The Bougainvillea Genus

Bougainvillea is a genus composed of flowering trees, bushes, and vines which come from the Nyctaginaceae plant family, also known as the four o’clock plant family.

There are between 4 and 18 species within this genus, depending on the author you go with. 

They hail from South America, and what we might refer to as flowers on these plants are actually colorful bracts, which surround the petite, true flowers.

Bougainvillea At A Glance

Most of the plants in the genus are covered in thorns, so make sure you plant them well away from high traffic areas.

These plants are hugely popular thanks to their vivid colors and structure. 

These plants love warm climates. If you don’t live somewhere where the weather is warm for most of the year, you can grow bougainvillea as a houseplant, or, if you plant it in a container, it will survive in a sheltered position.

While there are more than 300 varieties of Bougainvillea, it can be tricky to find exactly which species they belong to, as lots of hybrids have been bred with each other.

To make things harder, bougainvillea also mutates randomly, which means that quite a few cultivars have multiple names.

Bougainvillea Name Meaning

The man who first recorded the plant, Philibert Commerson, who was a French botanist, named it after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French Navy admiral, who also happened to be Philibert’s friend.

Bougainvillea Symbolism

Bougainvillea plants represent a joy for life, the wisdom that comes from experience, passion, and ambition.

Bougainvillea Growing Requirements

Bougainvillea plants love balmy climates, and they are hardy in USDA zones 9 through to 11.

That doesn’t mean you can’t grow it in other zones, but you might have to get creative by growing it in a sheltered position, such as by the side of your home.

Depending on the species you go for, Bougainvillea plants can reach between 2 and 40 feet tall when mature.

These plants love slightly acidic soil with plenty of drainage, and can be fairly drought tolerant.

This does help keep the maintenance levels of these plants down, and it is worth giving them plenty of space to help prevent disease. 

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