Bougainvillea, named after a famous French explorer- Antoine de Bougainville, is a plant native to the South American region. It is the national flower of Grenada, a country in the Caribbean.
With over 250 varieties, botanists classify Bougainvilleas as vines, climbers, and shrubs. Best described as woody and thorny, they are evergreen shrubs which grow up to a size of 15′ tall and 40′ wide. These ornamental plants have leaves that are bright green, oval to heart-shaped and arranged alternatively on their prickly stem.
They richly grow when provided sufficient sun exposure. Although they require fertile, well-drained soil, they survive just as well in dry and hardy conditions. Provided they get adequate water and sunlight for the development of flowers, and in some varieties for their variegation of leaves, these shrubs can endure arid conditions. Although overwatering hinders the blossoming of flowers, they need just enough of it to prevent it from drying and shedding its leaves. In case of any trouble while flowering, use a fertilizer that is high in Phosphate. Stem and root propagation are applied to multiply this plant. While bees help pollinate, caterpillars feed on the leaves, making them pests.
Flowers: Bougainvilleas have tiny white flowers, which are encaged by three vibrant colored brackets. These paper-like brackets are so prominent that they are often mistaken for the actual flower. The color which they come in, such as Red, Fuchsia Pink, White, Orange, Mauve, are eye-catching and make a distinct contrast to the sprawling green foliage around them. When they are allowed to grow naturally, they cascade over the fence, making them appear decorative. They can, nevertheless, be pruned as desired.
- The Yanadi tribe of Andhra Pradesh, India, have known to use the leaves of this plant to heal diabetes.
- It is one of the best plants to be used for hedges. Keep in mind to plant it at a place where it won’t cat as an obstruction and block pathways and driveways. As they tend to outgrow quickly, provide enough space between the shrub and the path.
- The dwarf varieties in Bougainvillea are suitable for groundcover as they only grow up to feet in height.