Bougainvilleas are an extremely vibrant & showy ornamental plant guaranteed to impress. They can be trained into bushes, sizeable trees, or even manually attached to a trellis or structure simulating a vine. Bougainvilleas are not natural climbers though. Bougainvilleas burst into bloom in the winter months when moisture is minimal.

Bougainvillea (Dwarf) 'Helen Johnson'

  • Low water
  • High sunlight
  • 2-3 feet tall
  • Flowers all year (perennial)
  • Not native

Bougainvilleas are native to Brazil. This family of woody shrubs and vines is widely cultivated in tropical and semi-tropical areas throughout the world. Now, with the development of more compact types so easily grown in small containers, bougainvilleas can be enjoyed even in climates with cold winters as they can be moved into a house or a greenhouse before the first freeze. Plenty of bright sun is a must for growth and good bloom with a minimum temperature of about 60 degrees during the growing and blooming season, though they are hardy in zone 10 and often in zone 9 in a protected location. Any good potting soil will do, but good drainage is a must as bougainvilleas need to be kept on the dry side. In southwest Florida, bougainvilleas flourish in the winter months when moisture is minimal.

There is a method of inducing bloom by gradually withholding water just to the point of shock, even taking the plant out of the pot and removing some of the soil around the rootball. After a day or two, replant and gradually increase the amount of water. Then begin fertilizing weekly until the plant bursts into profuse bloom. As one can imagine, this takes some practice and a good sense of timing but anyone can apply a modified version of this technique by allowing the soil to become as dry as possible between watering. Bougainvilleas also respond well to a moderate pruning early in the spring. Landscapers Choice offers a specialized fertilizer especially for bougainvilleas.