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This genus was named in honor of the explorer and scientist, Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729 – 1811), who made the first French voyage around the world, and for whom the Papua New Guinean island is also named. Known for their brilliant floral displays and ground-covering power, bougainvilleas originate from the tropics and subtropics of South America. Members of the fouro- clock (Nyctaginaceae) family, the 14 species in this genus are scrambling shrubs that can become vigorous climbers in favorable conditions resembling the climate of their native habitat.
Flowering Season: Summer, Autumn, Spring
If unsupported, these plants will remain compact or behave as ground covers, while if given support they will climb vigorously, using their sharp thorns as a means of attachment. While the thin-textured, downy, tapering leaves and small, tubular, ivory to yellow flowers play a role in the overall attractive appearance of these plants, it is the brilliantly colored petal-like bracts that create its dramatic impact.
All species do well in warm to hot climates and some species will tolerate light frosts. For best results, plant bougainvilleas in a light well-drained soil in a sunny position. Although drought tolerant, they need plenty of moisture during the flowering season. Overfeeding will produce masses of foliage but very little in the way of colorful bracts. Propagate from cuttings taken in summer.