One of the most beautiful flowering plants is the Bougainvillea. This tropical plant from Brazil is versatile and very easy to grow. It can be used in hanging baskets, as a hedge, or even growing along a trellis. It also grows extremely well in a planter and looks beautiful as a bonsai. This plant is extremely hardy and is usually pest-free and resistant to disease.
It is very important that the plant is trimmed back as soon as it is planted, or after the flowers start to wilt. This will allow the plant to begin the vegetative growth period. The new blooms will appear only after the plant has grown new leaves and stems.
The plant may look dead or in shock but with lots of sun and water the new growth will begin quickly. Bougainvilleas also require monthly fertilization to encourage flowering. Do not use any fertilization with a high peat level or one that encourages water retention. The peat will cause the root ball to pull away from the sides of the pot. This will prevent the entire root from being saturated when watered. It is important to remember that Bougainvilleas must be planted in a well-drained pot. This will prevent root rot. Bougain 6-8-10 is a specific fertilizer that is available at Home Depot. It contains five percent iron which is necessary for a rich and beautiful color in the blooms. If this is not available, use a fertilizer that is acidic with a pH between 6 and 6.5.
Sun and heat are the two main requirements to keep the Bougainvilleas blooming. These plants require at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. They prefer temperatures that range between seventy-five and ninety-five degrees during the day and no colder than sixty-five degrees at night. Remember that this is a tropical plant and does best in high heat and sunlight. They will not flower in cold temperatures or during their growth period. They will only begin to flower on new growth. Water the plant only after the leaves start to wilt. This drought stage encourages new blooms. Be careful not to wait too long to water or the leaves will dry up and fall off. Flood the dry plant with water. Just remember that the plant must be in a well-drained area or pot.
Planting outside is easy. Remember that the plant must be in direct sunlight and in a well drained area. The hole should be the size of the root ball as the Bougainvilleas bloom better when the roots are crowded. If planting in a planter or pot, use the smallest size that the plant will fit in. Re- plant only when the roots seem to take over the soil and then only to the next size. Prune the plants back before bringing them in for the winter.
Bougainvilleas thrive during the heat of summer. They are frost sensitive and have a high tolerance to high levels of salt in the soil. They will grow indoors, but the blooms will only occur under the correct environment.