After 5 years , I finally found a potted bougainvillea!! I’m so excited. I’ve wanted one ever since I moved here from California–they’re one of my favorite plants there. I had given up my search ages ago but was inspired by Kate, who grows one indoors in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I figured if she could find one and grow it inside, so could I. I found the bougainvillea at Logee’s Tropical Plants in Connecticut, about 45 minutes from here by car.
Bougainvillea are native to South America. They love zone 9 and higher, thriving in areas with low rainfall, intense heat, and at least 5 hours of direct sun daily. Temperatures no lower than 60 F / 15 C are the ideal. In zones 1-8, you can still grow them as long as you bring them inside in the winter months.
Bougainvillea, according to the experts at Bougainvillea Growers International, are drought-tolerant and don’t like wet feet. Perhaps because it was raised in a very humid environment, mine seems always to be thirsty. You’re supposed to water when the soil is visually dry. Don’t wait until the leaves fall–that’s the dead giveaway it’s too dry (no pun intended.) They have delicate, thin root systems that require a lot of micronutrients to promote development.
There are many different species and cultivars of the genus Bougainvillea. Most of you will know Bougainvillea as a woody vine. I bought a cultivar called Bougainvillea ‘Vera Purple,’ supposedly sold only through Logee’s, that has been trained into a shrub-like form.
Incidentally the flowers are actually bracts, which are modified leaves. The bougainvillea’s flowers are actually tiny white ones surrounded by multiple colorful bracts.