So many people have taken to gardening to cope with the realities of lockdowns in the past year. If you’re a blooming plantita, you may be looking for a new addition to your collection of growing things. If you don’t want to buy another succulent or add a new tiny cactus to your garden, you may want to step up and take on something a little more challenging.
You can try to grow and cultivate bougainvillea, a thorny and colorful flowering plant. These plants were first discovered by botanist Philibert Commercon while exploring with a French admiral. You can take these once-exotic plants and start growing them in DIY plant racks.
But how do you grow bougainvillea plants?
Here are five experts tips you need to keep in mind to get them healthy and flowering.
1. Choose the Right Varieties
Not every type of bougainvillea will thrive indoors or in a confined container like a plastic flowerpot. You will need to choose the right type if you want it to thrive in a pot. When you’re buying a bougainvillea plants at the nearest garden center, ask for varieties that will do well in confinement.
For example, “Miss Alice” bougainvillea plants grow nice white flowers and are more like shrubs and quite easy to prune.
Another variety that does well in pots are “Vera Deep Purples,” which not only blooms well in pots but also has lovely purple flowers. If you don’t grow the right variety, you will have a hard time getting them to grow quite as beautifully.
2. Always Wear Gloves
Bougainvillea flowers are some of the most interesting blooms in the world, but they are attached to some very vicious thorns. The plants grow some very barbed hooks as they mature and even when they’re just developing, the small thorns can be sharp enough to puncture skin if you’re not careful.
Whenever you are handling or pruning your bougainvillea plants, always wear thick gardening gloves made of tough materials. Avoid just using rubber kitchen gloves because they will not provide enough protection from the thorns. Doing so will help you keep your hands free from injury.
3. Prune Properly
Bougainvillea blooms even better whenever you prune the plants, the flowers growing thickly on new growths. Every month or so, look at your plant and snip them about 6 inches to a12 inches from the topsoil of the pot, depending on the length you want for your plant.
If you live in a condo or you are growing your bougainvillea in a cramped rack, you may want to prune them even shorter. Remember to let them grow out reasonably before cutting down the branches.
4. Fertilize Regularly
Despite their small size, even varieties of bougainvillea that thrive in pots require lots and lots of nutrition to thrive. Unlike other flowering plants, bougainvillea requires constant fertilization, especially during the blooming season.
You will need to put in water-soluble fertilizers in the pot at least once every one to two weeks. Or you can use a slow-release fertilizer, so you only need to apply it once a month.
5. Water Deeply
Bougainvillea plants are as thirsty as they are hungry. You will need to water them regularly, more so when you have just transplanted them or when they first grow.
When your bougainvillea plant is young, its best to keep the plant’s soil moist by misting the pot frequently. When the plant has grown a little, you can switch to watering the pot deeply. This means pouring at least an inch of water into the pot and letting it drain slowly. This should keep the bougainvillea watered for at least 24 hours, less if you put them out in direct sunlight.
Water it again when the soil starts feeling slightly dry. However, remember that you shouldn’t inundate the pot or else you will drown the plant.
Where Do Bougainvilleas Grow Best?
The bougainvillea plant is a tropical plant, and it loves sunlight. So it’ll grow best when it receives some five to six hours of sun. Although bougainvilleas thrive in warmer climates, don’t leave your plant under the heat of the afternoon sun. Let it have some shade because extreme heat will kill it.
These flowering plants will also need room to grow; give it some space in your garden. With support, the bougainvillea can grow up to 20 to 30 feet tall and wide. If you don’t have that much room where you live, find a dwarf variety because they’ll grow 3 to 6 feet.
Bougainvillea plants are beautiful; they can be harder to take care of than your usual plantita fare. But if you want a challenge, you will not be disappointed. These plants will bloom with the most interesting colors and showcase the “greenness” of your thumb.
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