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How to Grow Bougainvilleas

Bougainvillea is a vine-like, thorny shrub that grows rampantly. It can be trained to climb trellises or be planted as an attractive but thornily impenetrable barrier, and it can also serve as a groundcover. Bougainvilleas have beautiful, brightly colored bracts, which are specialized leaves that contain the plant's flowers [source: Ya'akobi].

Bougainvilleas can't bear temperatures below 39 F (4 C). They need at least five hours of full sunlight each day, preferably in the afternoon [source: Braswell].

Here's how to introduce a bougainvillea to your garden.

  • Be careful not to damage the bougainvillea's roots when planting it in your garden.
  • Be sure your bougainvillea will have plenty of room to spread.
  • Be careful not to over water your bougainvillea. If it's watered too much, it won't have as many colorful bracts.

Once your bougainvillea is established, it should thrive with very little care other than the necessary pruning. Feed it with compost or commercial humus once a year [source: Ya'akobi].

If you'd rather grow bougainvillea in a pot, simply follow the steps below.

  1. Choose a pot. Bougainvilleas do well in almost any type of pot. Be sure the pot has drainage holes and is not placed on saucers [source: Braswell]. The pot should also be large enough for the bougainvillea to grow in for many years -- bougainvilleas have delicate roots and are not easily transplanted. Finally, the pot should not be a dark color, since it will be in the sun for at least five hours a day.
  2. Choose the soil. Bougainvilleas do well in any type of soil.
  3. Don't over water your bougainvillea. Potted bougainvilleas don't need much water. The soil just has to be moist [source: Braswell].
  4. Fertilize your bougainvillea regularly. Choose a fertilizer with calcium nitrate. During the spring and summer, fertilize your plant every-other week. During the fall and winter fertilizing it once every four to six weeks is enough. [source: Braswell]]