Bougainvillea bougainvillea - Bougainvillea


The Bougainvillea are shrubbery sarmentose shrubs, with twining stems, often spiny, and semi evergreen, oval, bright green, light, sometimes heart-shaped leaves; the flowers of the bougainvillea are tiny, tubular, white or cream, but are subtended by large colored bracts, typically fuchsia pink, but there are many varieties, with white, yellow, red, orange and lilac bracts. The plants were introduced into cultivation in Europe in the 1700s, from Brazil, where they develop naturally, as well as in Perщ and Argentina; in nature there are about fifteen species of bougainvillea, but in Europe very few were imported, and in particular Buganvillea spectabilis and bougainvillea glabra. Over the decades, the species of bougainvillea, together with others imported from the first botanists from South America, were repeatedly hybridized together, and therefore today in the living we find many varieties of bougainvillea of which the ancestors are not known, it therefore becomes difficult to give these plants a correct botanical name. For this reason there are varieties that are more resistant to cold, others that do not bear drought, and also a variety of bougainvillea with a very compact shrub development, almost suitable for cultivation in apartments. Genarle are vigorous and fairly fast-growing plants, which tend to produce a cascade of branches and leaves, which in summer are covered with numerous inflorescences, gathered in groups of three, decidedly very showy. They are thus well adapted to the Mediterranean climate, which in fact are now considered plants typical of the Mediterranean vegetation, although in general it is difficult to see them developing in the wild, while it is more likely to see them in gardens and parks, especially in coastal areas.

Exposure and terrain

Family and gender
Nyctaginaceae, gen. Bougainvillea
Type of plant Sarmentose shrub
Exposure Full sun
Rustic Not rustic
Ground Rich, well-drained, slightly acid
colors Pink, red, mauve, purple, white, orange, salmon, yellow
Irrigation Never too abundant, it requires periods of drought
Flowering From spring to autumn, in waves
Composting Slightly, every 4 months with slow release products

The bougainvillea are plants that love the sun, only the cultivation in full sun ensures a good flowering, while if placed in the shade they will give rise to a shrub rich in foliage, but completely free of inflorescences. They slightly fear the winter cold, and for this reason they are often grown in places sheltered from the wind, leaning against houses, on terraces and balconies, so that they can be protected in case of frost. In any case, they don't like frosts, especially if they are prolonged and intense; slight frosts can sometimes simply cause the outer branches to burn, leaving the plant undisturbed, and their effects are eliminated in spring, with a light pruning. In areas with a decidedly cold winter climate, the bougainvillea should be kept in a sheltered place, preferably in a pot, so that they can be completely covered with non-woven fabric in the event of intense cold. To prevent the plant from being ruined, in these areas it is advisable to prune the shrubs about 25-36 cm from the ground, so that it is easier to repair all the parts of the plant, and also to stimulate a rapid vegetative growth upon arrival of spring.
They prefer decidedly very well drained soils, water stagnation can occasionally cause the loss of leaves, but if persistent it can also lead to serious damage to the roots, and consequently also to the ramifications.
Even extreme drought can cause the loss of foliage, especially if it is prolonged; in fact these plants tolerate drought well, but if it lasts for weeks the plant defends itself by dropping the entire foliage. This event often occurs in plants grown in sheltered places, where they cannot receive water from the weather, for several months.
Watering is provided only when the soil is decidedly dry, from March to October, avoiding excesses, and also avoiding leaving the soil saturated with water for long periods of time; in the cold months it is watered only sporadically, avoiding to water the plants that are exposed to the rain water, but remembering however to supply small quantities of water to the plants sheltered by the terraces, or covered with plastic film or non-woven fabric. In the vegetative period, from April to September, we also supply fertilizer for flowering plants, dissolved in the water of the watering, every 12-15 days.

The bougainvillea

The bougainvillea belongs to the family of the Nyctaginaceae and is a shrub for the most sarmentous deciduous leaf from tropical and subtropical America. The genus has about 14 species, of which three have subsequently spread to all tropical countries. They are in fact cultivated on a large scale throughout the coastal area of ​​Africa and India. In Europe, even here in the coastal areas, hairless and spectabilis species are widespread.
As we have said, Bougainvillea is native to South America. Named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French navigator, the first European to take note of the existence of the plant, in Brazil, in 1768

Bougainvillea pruning

The bougainvillea plants are vigorous and luxuriant, especially if they find a suitable place for their development; generally they are pruned at the end of winter, to remove the branches broken by the wind or the bad weather, and the excessively small ones, shortening then all the ramifications, to favor the production of many new shoots. In areas with very cold climate, the plants are pruned already in autumn, to contain the foliage, which will then be sheltered from frost. There are varieties with shrubby habit, which however must be regularly shortened, to allow the shrub to maintain a dense vegetation; otherwise, with the passage of time, it will tend to assume an excessively long posture, emptying itself in the lower part. The specimens grown in the open ground, in a Mediterranean climate, may also never be pruned, or even slightly trimmed at the end of winter or early spring, to stimulate a more extensive development.
The Bougainvilleas do not fear pruning too much, indeed they must intervene with a certain regularity. In fact, if this operation is omitted, the bush can turn into a disordered mass of old and new branches, which can stimulate the appearance of diseases and parasites.
It is therefore necessary to proceed by always eliminating unnecessary branches. The prunings of previous years must be cut leaving at most two or three buds. From these new stems will be born bearing the flowering. The flowers appear on the new branches, so encouraging the renewal of the plant is absolutely necessary.
Pruning should be done every time a flowering ends to encourage new growth and new production.
Dead wood should be removed as soon as it appears. The long branches can be modeled as you want until they are almost totally herbaceous.

Pests and diseases

In general the bougainvillea are not excessively affected by insects or fungal diseases; occasionally it may happen that the tender shoots are covered with diaphragms, in the case of very cool and rainy springs. If watered excessively, or placed in a decidedly very compact and poorly draining soil, they are easy prey for root rots, which can bring the plant to rapid death, if not countered promptly. Against aphids, special insecticides are generally used, but they can be used only when the plants are not in bloom, and only if they actually see insects on the shoots. Against root rot, the best cure is prevention, which is carried out by watering the plant only when strictly necessary, and cultivating the bougainvillea in very well drained soil.

The name of the plants

In nurseries we often find plants with a decidedly exotic name, and sometimes even difficult to pronounce, these names were often attributed to plants centuries ago, by Linnaeus himself, or his successors. Linnaeus, Carl Nilsson Linnaeus, better known as Carl Von Linnì was a very famous doctor and naturalist of Swedish origin, who lived at the beginning of the 1700s; his work makes him one of the first botanists, although botany is actually a science that developed only centuries after the death of Linnaeus. His delusions of classifying everything made him famous, as he was one of the first to devise a method to classify all living species in a unique and certain way. For plant lovers, Linnaeus is known only for the classification of plants, but in reality he tried to classify even very many animals. In his classification works he baptized many plants, sometimes trying to latinize the most common common names in the place of origin, sometimes celebrating people, facts or places, giving their name to a plant. And his successors did the same. Then the Bougainville receives its name from a successor of Linnaeus, who gave it the name of the admiral who was at the head of the expedition during which the first examples of this beautiful creeper were discovered, Louis Antoine de Bougainville.
But there are many other names of plants that recall famous people, such as the Saintpaullia, who receive the name of its discoverer, or many species called thompsonii, or davidii, in honor of two great botanists and plant discoverers.

Variety of Bougainville

There Bougainville spetcoglabra it has small dark green leaves with La Bougainville spectabilis, the first member of the genus to be identified. It is noted for its elegant and light branches and leaves. The leaves are broad and ovate, with evident veins and with the back slightly covered with hairs. Bracts can range from red to dark pink to crimson, while the flowers are small and cream-colored. On the branches large, often curved spines are found. It grows very thick and the colored bracts can appear along the whole branch. The production of flowers takes place following a seasonal cycle. In the regions of origin the buds appear after the dry season or after a cool period.
There Bougainville glabra It is a climbing plant with persistent foliage. The genus is also native to Brazil and was identified for the first time in 1850. The leaves are elliptical, bright green or even variegated. The surface is glossy and the back is lint-free. The bracts take on many shapes and sizes, but generally they have a triangular shape and take on colors that can range from purple to mauve, but white ones can also be found. They appear along the branches and also at the top. The flowers range from white to cream. The spines are small and with a curved tip. The general habit is enlarged and it is, above all for the green leaf varieties, of plants with great vigor. It blooms several times a year.
There Peruvian Bougainville
This variety was identified in 1810. Its peculiar characteristic is represented by the green bark. The leaves are long, narrow, ovate and glabrous. The bracts are rounded and the color goes from magenta to pink, the flowers are yellow instead. The spines are short and hard. Growth tends to go upwards even though it cannot be said to be particularly vigorous. Frequent pruning must often be used to encourage branching. It can flower many times during the year, especially if it is possible to alternate periods of drought with periods of great humidity.
The hybrid that is most easily found on the market is the one obtained by crossing the Bougainvillea glabra and the Peruvian Bougainville. It is normally called Bougainville buttiana, named after its discoverer R. Butt. The leaves are broad and ovate or heart-shaped with a slight down on both sides. The bracts are round red or dark pink, the thorns hard and short. The small flowers are cream with pink shades. It has a very open growth and needs frequent pruning to obtain a bushy and bushy shape. Flowering occurs several times a year.
Another fairly common hybrid is the Bougainville x spectoperuviana which bears large dark green and ovate-shaped leaves, first of hair. The bracts are initially magenta then they turn to pink. It blooms several times a year.
mauve or purple bracts. It has many curved spines. Very branched and blooms throughout the vegetative period, with short breaks.

General characteristics of the plant

The Bouganville is a tropical and subtropical woody liana, basically evergreen, characterized by a large amount of branches or pruning and can reach a height and a width of about 6 meters. He climbs emitting long shoots with hard and curved spines. As they age, the stems lignify and turn brown. In mild areas the foliage is deciduous and so it happens even where there are long dry periods.
The cultivars are available in a wide range of colors. We always keep in mind that those that appear petals are actually modified leaves.
For there to be flowering it is necessary to produce new branches, which are emitted by the leaf axil of the primary ones. The bracts can remain colored for many months after the end of flowering and then wither and take on the appearance of tissue paper.
The leaves are simple and alternate, with a wavy edge.

Exposure and temperature Bougainville

All Bougainvillea grow optimally if exposed in full sun. A very strong light is required for the best flowering. It prefers the areas on the coast at sea level, but can live well up to 700 meters above sea level. It tolerates sunny and dry locations very well with temperatures up to 35 degrees.
The ideal climate has nights that do not go below 15 ° C and days that are between 23 and 35 ° C.
B. glabra is slightly more tolerant than the others as it tolerates temperatures as high as 14 degrees.
The wind usually does not create problems, especially if it is not too strong. It can cause damage, but the plant, being quite vigorous, grows quickly.

Land Bouganville

The Bouganville grows very well with a minimum of 65 cm of rain per year. The ideal substrate is rich, well-drained and slightly acid (with a pH of 5.5-6.0). They do not develop well where the soil is always moist.
Soil acidity is important because it influences the absorption capacity of micro and macronutrients. Particularly too alkaline soil can be an obstacle to the supply of iron and cause leaf chlorosis.
For the rest, these are rather tolerant vegetables as they have no problems even in the case of particularly saline soil due to the proximity of the sea.

Use in the garden Bougainvillea

The poise and spectacular bracts of the Bougainvillea have made them very popular in certain landscapes. They are often planted in groups as shrubs or bushes or even as a ground cover.
They are ideal for large areas, even those that are difficult to maintain. For example, they can cover an entire slope of a hill, preventing weeds from growing there.
However, they can also be set up as saplings or as climbers on pergolas, on espaliers or, with special supports, on walls. They can also form beautiful waterfalls where there are slopes.
Sufficient space must be left for each plant to reach maturity. The ideal distance between one plant and another goes from 2.5 meters for the most vigorous cultivars to about one meter for the most contained ones.

The flowering of the Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea flowering is encouraged by the short duration of the day. However, it is not the only important factor. Some practices are really important to ensure a large amount of bracts:
- Avoid over-watering
- Do not give too much nitrogen fertilizer
- We must avoid giving a too shady position
- We avoid pruning too frequently

Bouganville irrigation

As we have said b. they tolerate drought very well and must try to keep the soil as dry as possible. They are very sensitive to excessive watering.

Fertilization Bouganville

To obtain excellent results it is advisable to use organic fertilizers or slow release synthetic fertilizers. After planting the macro-element to be added the most is phosphorus. Afterwards you will have to use balanced products with NPK 1: 1: 1 or at most 2: 1: 2. We avoid however to intervene too frequenting. It may sometimes be necessary, especially if we have a neutral ground, to supplement with chelated iron.

Bouganville pruning

The Bougainvillea do not fear pruning excessively, on the contrary they must intervene with a certain regularity. In fact, if this operation is omitted, the bush can turn into a disordered mass of old and new branches, which can stimulate the appearance of diseases and parasites.
It is therefore necessary to proceed by always eliminating unnecessary branches. The prunings of previous years must be cut leaving at most two or three buds. From these new stems will be born bearing the flowering. The flowers appear on the new branches, so encouraging the renewal of the plant is absolutely necessary.
Pruning should be done every time a flowering ends to encourage new growth and new production.
Dead wood should be removed as soon as it appears. The long branches can be modeled as you want until they are almost totally herbaceous.

Bougainvillea bougainvillea: Bougainville propagation

The simplest method for propagating Bougainvillea is the apical or semi-woody cutting. The ideal thickness is 3 mm and must have between three and five knots. The leaves must be removed. They should be placed in a mixture of sand and perlite. It is usually not necessary to use rooting hormones. The mixture should be kept medium wet and at a temperature of about 20 ° C. The emission of roots happens in 4-12 weeks.
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Pests and diseases
Aphids Use contact insecticides and ingestion
Cochineal with scudetto and cottony Use systemic insecticides + mineral oil
mites Use specific acaricides + mineral oil and ovicide in winter (if frequent)
Leaf stains Rich, well-drained, slightly acid
chlorosis Pink, red, mauve, purple, white, orange, salmon, yellow