BOUGAINVILLEA (Bougainvillea). Climbing leaf-losing shrubby plants, from Brazil, which belong to the family Nyctaginaceae. They are cultivated outdoors in the far South and in colder climates in greenhouses. The slender woody stems are furnished with small, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, green leaves and sharp thorns.
The small inconspicuous flowers which are produced in summer, are surrounded by large colored bracts which form the decorative feature of the plants. The name Bougainvillea commemorates de Bougainville, a French navigator.
Details of Management. The best soil for Bougainvilleas consists of two-thirds loam and one-third leaf mold, sand, and broken brick. They may be grown in large pots, the shoots trained around stakes, but they are seen in full beauty only when planted in a ground bed of soil.
In this the plant is set, in autumn or spring, and the shoots as they develop are tied to wires fixed to the roof. In spring a few inches of topsoil is removed and replaced with fresh compost. A minimum winter temperature of 55 degrees is required. During the summer months abundance of water is necessary, but in winter the soil is kept almost dry.
Pruning and Propagation. Pruning consists of cutting back the lateral shoots of the previous summer’s growth to within two buds of the base in February. Propagation is effected by inserting cuttings of half-ripe or semiwoody shoots about 4 in. in length, in summer. They are set in a propagating case in the greenhouse. When rooted, they are potted separately in 3-in. pots and, later on, in 5-in. pots, from which they are planted out in the bed.
The Chief Kinds. Bougainvillea glabra bears carmine-rose bracts; the variety Sanderiana has bracts of rich rose-red, and variegata has leaves marked with creamy-white. B. spectabilis has rose-colored bracts and showy varieties are Crimson Lake, bright crimson and praetoriensis, rich golden-bronze. A white-bracted variety is also grown. The leaves of B. Harrisii are dark green variegated with creamy white.