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By Karen England

If you know the secret to planting bougainvillea successfully, they can be easy, beautiful plants to grow. Bougainvilleas hate to have their roots disturbed in any way, so transplanting them can be the most difficult part of getting them to grow.

The secret is to treat the root ball of a bougainvillea gently, as if it were a fine crystal goblet & you will be less likely to bang and break the root ball. Plant bougainvillea by cutting the bottom of the can off and setting the plant (the sides of the can still attached) into the prepared planting hole (a hole dug as deep as the can and twice as wide). Slice down the remaining can and unwrap from the root ball. 

Back fill the hole with an mixture of 50% “Bandini Azalea Gro-mix” (or a planter’s mix of your choice) and 50% existing soil. Water thoroughly and keep well watered until established. Leave a staked bougainvillea tied to the stake for two weeks before removing the stake & training to a wall or fence and also wait two weeks before fertilizing. 

The true flower of the bougainvillea is really a nondescript little thing and the surrounding bracts are what are so colorful. Bougainvillea are available in a wide range of colors, and a few have variegated leaves. Choose from red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, and white. Most bougainvilleas need support, however, some varieties will become a sprawling shrub without support, which is a particularly good ground covering for a slope or bank.

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm".


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