I got a bougainvillea!!!!

by Caroline Brown

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.

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12 Comments to “I got a bougainvillea!!!!”

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the fact that so few people are talking about presidential candidates and their thoughts on global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.

    Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( http://www.liveearth.org/news.php ) live earth is also asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw a poll on http://www.EarthLab.com that says people care a lot about what their next leader thinks of global warming. Does anyone know of another poll or other results about this subject?

    Here is the page where I saw the EarthLab poll: http://www.earthlab.com/life.aspx. This is a pretty legit website; they are endorsed by Al Gore and the alliance for climate protection and they have a carbon footprint calculator. Does anyone have a strong opinion about this like I do? No matter what your political affiliation is or who you vote for this is an important issue for our environment, our economy and for homeland security.

  2. Alex, We have the same problem, up here in Canada.
    The elected officials quickly forget their promises re: actually doing something about global warming, once they are in power.
    As I’ve said many times before, I think the ‘green revolution’ will be like so many other revolutions, one by the people. Urgent and overdue though it is, we just can’t wait for the polititicians to make the changes, they’ve already let us down, over and over again. Of course, individuals can only do so much. But I am appalled at so many people who ‘speak green’ but still get into their oversized SUV’s, head to the store for a bunch of prepackaged junk food and chemicals galore and consume much more than they really need, on all fronts. This is not walking the talk. It’s all about making informed decisions, in everything we do. And small changes can make a huge difference if millions of people are committed to doing just that.

    Ok, there’s my rant….

    Back on topic: Love your beautiful flower C, looks like spring. Gorgeous color! Are the kitties ‘checking it out’ LOL 🙂

  3. Good going, Caroline! Your Bougainvillea looks great – mine has dropped all of its blooms, which is normal. It is alive – still – and in my front window (somehow it survived through the -40 temperatures without dying off) The best thing is that it has some new leaves. Yours will do great.

    The key is in the watering from what I’ve read – water well, but rarely. The plant is supposed to be watered infrequently. So far – fingers crossed – it’s possible to keep these going!

    Those colourful bracts in mid-winter were such a treat.

  4. I know it is time for a trip to Logee’s. Only 15 minutes from my home. I am afraid to go! Love your bougainvillea.

  5. Just remember that bougainvillea like to be kept dry, and will not bloom is watered too much. They bloom here in Florida during our dry season, winter, when it’s cooler and doesn’t get much rain.

  6. Hi Caroline,

    I arrived via Stuart’s blog to tell you that my Bougainvillea has produced new sets of bracts. They are really small though – I’m curious to see if they grow in size. Will keep you posted. If I can baby the plant through the next two to three months, I’ll be happy!

  7. I just purchased a Vera Purple in mid-February as well. The leaves are slowly falling off–do you think it’s because it was shipped in the cold?

    The soil seems to dry out quickly, so I have watered it 2x in 5 days–is that too frequent?

    What do the bracts look like?

    I’ve seen bougainvilleas in California and have coveted them. I am so excited about this plant and can’t wait for it to flower.

    Thank you!

  8. Hi Betty, the leaves seemed to fall off of mine for a while until it got used to its new home. I think it was adjusting from the hot humid greenhouse to my dry, 68 degree home. Maybe the same problem for you. I did read that if the leaves are falling off, it’s too dry. So I kept it watered a little more than you are normally supposed to during this period. I checked the soil and when it was bone dry, I watered it….for the first couple of weeks this happened a lot.

    In the long run you should not water it that frequently. Now that I’ve had mine for a little while it’s slowly needing less water.

  9. Hi Caroline,

    I happened upon your comment about Bougainvillea and I’m ecstatic! I never thought it would grow in the New England area – never! The first time I had ever seen the Bougainvillea was on a vacation to Phoenix and I instantly fell in love with it. Thanks to your success, I’m heading out to buy one. Wish me luck.

    PS: That’s not your Bougainvillea plant pictured n the blue pot is it? If so, I’m even more ecstatic about growing one now!

  10. I have a bouganvilla the same colour in the picture i bought in the spring and all the bloom fell off and i was wondering by tipping off the ends of the plant if that will help it to bloom again or am i doing something wrong the plant is healthy and green please do give me some advive as how to make it boloom.

  11. Definately one of my favorites as well. Its so rewarding specially in hot and sunny climate. The more you give it sun, the more it will bloom.

    I love the growing rate, and I love how easy it is to shape it the way you want it. Whichever way it will end up looking amazing!

  12. hello, i just came across this post and wanted to add that for a long time i too was in search of this special plant over here in vancouver, bc (canada)….i love this plant because just seeing pictures of it totally reminded me of my days in mexico where it grows everywhere!

    …problem was i didn’t even know the name of this plant so all i could describe it as was this ‘mexican plant’ with a lot of colors and like a mini poinsettia lol

    anyways finally by luck, i decided to go see what GardenWorks in burnaby had for tropical plants, and there it was!!! for around $40.00 u can buy this as a small indoor house plant…so when i get some extra cash in my pocket, i will be sure to get one of these and just hope not to kill it!

    …on that note, i went ahead and did some research about this plant and learned that basically this is a rather sensitive plant especially for us folks in the north….

    …i learned not to disturb the rootbulb as it is very sensitive, and as someone mentioned about just bringing it into their home causes this tempermental plant to do funny things, so be patient and gentle with it…and give it lots of sun…it apparently requires nearly 5 hours of sun a day! also, unfortunately, though it will bloom with those colorful bracts that we adore, it won’t bloom as proficiently indoors as it would outdoors from my understanding….and finally watch out for those thorns!!! they apparently carry a toxin than when peirced into the skin, can cause potentially harmful infection!

    ….anyways i don’t care…i love mexico, and i love this plant! so anyone in bc that’s looking for it….check out GardenWorks in burnaby (on lougheed hwy) and hopefully they will still be carrying it! (perhaps the more people ask for it, the more they will keep it in stock) …hope this helps!

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