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|
|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 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
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.
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|