The history of the bougainvillea plant
Bougainvillea does not describe a plant per se, but rather an entire genus of plants with 10 to 18 different species. We also call bougainvillea triplet flowers. The houseplant owes its unusual and French-sounding name to the French sailor and circumnavigator Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who planted the plant in the 18th and 19th centuries. Century probably discovered for the first time.
The tropical climbing shrub is native to a small area along the Andes in Ecuador and Brazil.
The appearance of tropical bougainvillea
In the wild, bougainvilleas mainly grow in summer-dry forests. They belong to the climbing plants family, but they do not form any special climbing organs like other plants. On the other hand, they climb to a height of up to five meters with their long shoots, which have light thorns.
If the bougainvillea care is right, your plants can bloom in bright and strong colors (white, yellow-orange, pink, purple, red) all summer long. The name triplet comes from the fact that each flower develops three colored bracts, which have a cream-white tubular flower in the middle.
When the plants are in full bloom in summer, the pointed leaves almost completely disappear beneath them.
Bougainvillea care: It's that easy
For the right bougainvillea care you should pay attention to a few things. We will go through the most important things with you.
The right bougainvillea location
Bougainvillea definitely needs enough sun at its location. Because in a partially shaded and cool place, the plant forms far fewer flower buds. If you want the bougainvillea outside (from May when the sun's rays are stronger), make sure the location is sheltered from rain and wind. In your apartment, for example, a bright, heated conservatory is very suitable.
In winter you should definitely protect your plant from frost and therefore place it in a bright place in the winter quarters in autumn. It may shed its leaves, but you shouldn't worry as they will sprout again in the spring.
Bougainvillea soil: She likes it permeable
With optimal bougainvillea care, the substrate should also be right. Use structurally stable and permeable potting soil that has sufficient mineral content. If you add a bit of clay to the substrate, your plant will be very happy.
The slightly acidic soil should ideally have a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Therefore, always check the packaging of the potting soil beforehand. If the pH is not in this range, the bougainvillea cannot develop healthily.
Bougainvillea watering: The plant needs a relatively large amount of water
Your flowering bougainvillea has a high water requirement . On very hot days you should therefore provide them with water in the morning and evening. When the plant suffers from a lack of water, it loses its green leaves very quickly and stops growing.
Tip: Even if you should water the plant every day depending on the temperature, avoid waterlogging in the pot. Over time, this leads to root rot. Therefore, make sure that the top layer of soil is slightly dry before the next watering.
In winter, the bougainvillea's important resting phase, the water supply should be restricted. Here it is important that the pot ball does not dry out completely.
Bougainvillea fertilizing: This is very important, especially during the flowering period
Not only watering is important when caring for bougainvillea, but also fertilizing. From spring to late summer, your plant needs a phosphate-rich liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every two weeks. You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding dosage. After the flowering period you can completely stop the additional nutrient supply.
Bougainvillea pruning: a pruning is good for her
Bougainvilleas are among the cut-friendly plants. Without pruning, meter-long shoots can develop, which are only weakly branched and have lush flowers at their ends.
To keep them in shape, bougainvillea should be pruned before winter dormancy, in autumn (or even early spring). A strong pruning does not harm the Mediterranean plant.
If you cut back the plant regularly, in a few years it will also ensure vigorous growth of the leading shoots and your bougainvillea will not need climbing aids. In between, you can of course also cut off withered inflorescences.
Tip: Only cut in the green and unwooded area.
Repotting bougainvillea: Better not to plant in a new pot too often
When repotting, you should always make sure that the fresh substrate is well drained and has a low humus content. Make sure the flowerpot isn't too big, otherwise the bougainvillea will put too much energy into the leaves instead of the flower growth.
You can repot the plant every two to three years after you have brought it out of its winter quarters. This guarantees vigorous growth with the formation of new flowers.
Tip: If you put a layer of expanded clay on the bottom of the pot, then the soil together with the plant pot will have even better permeability.
Propagating Bougainvillea: create your own flowering family
As with many (house) plants, you can propagate the bougainvillea by cuttings. However, these are not very easy to root and you need to be patient.
From the tendrils of the plant you cut approx. 30 centimeter long cuttings in the spring. You should dip the cut surface in special rooting hormones (indolyl butyric acid) for ideal rooting. Then you plant the cuttings in a sand-peat mixture.
The temperature in the bright location (without direct sunlight) should always be an even 24 degrees Celsius. If all goes well, the cuttings will grow roots over the next eight to ten weeks and you can plant them in the same potting soil that you use for your adult bougainvilleas.
Is bougainvillea poisonous?
This time you can rest assured that the bougainvillea is not poisonous to humans or animals. There are no toxins in the Bougainvillea stem, leaves or flowers. It can therefore be kept safely in a household with small children..
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