Blooming bougainvillea

Credit: David Tarrant

Bougainvillea glabra (pictured above) tumbles over a wall in my Mexican garden. Bougainvilleas are native to subtropical South America but are now widely grown around the world in subtropical climates. The small tubular flowers are intriguing, as they are borne in threes and not terribly showy. However, it is the three colourful petal like bracts that surround them that make this thorny climber so attractive.

While not hardy in B.C., I well remember seeing a beautiful pot of bougainvillea in full bloom on a patio in Richmond many years ago. It was in a 60-centimetre pot and supported on a two-metre trellis. The owner told me she wheeled it into her unheated garage for the months of December through early February, where it lost its foliage and went into a semi-dormant state. It was watered once a month during this time.

Whether grown in a pot in Canada or out in the garden like here in Mexico, they require drastic pruning at this time of the year (January) to encourage new growth and plenty of bloom.

They also prefer well-drained soil and tolerate drought and full sun.