Bougainvillea hybrid



Most are are robust, long-lived plants with a scrambling habit, and long woody canes that are often covered in spines. They are often trained to climb up walls, on trellis or over other frames such as pergolas.  They can be extremely vigorous, with some older varieties spreading up to 15m high, but there are some varieties that can be compact or spreading bushes less than 50cm tall.

The large papery bracts (the “flowers”) are produced from spring to late summer, with the best flowers produced in dry conditions. 

Bougainvilleas would have to be the most eye-catching plants in the garden. Flowering in brilliant hues, these gorgeous shrubby climbers are most commonly associated with tropical gardens but, in fact, some cultivars can be grown just as easily in temperate climates.

The ‘flowers’ on Bougainvilleas aren’t actually flowers at all. They are showy coloured bracts which cover the true tubular flower.


We usually see Bougainvilleas grown as shrubby climbers in the garden but this isn’t the only way to grow them. 

Tub plants 
They make ideal tub specimens, especially the dwarf varieties (such as the “Bambino” range). Larger varieties will need regular heavy pruning to keep them under control; perhaps every 1-2 months in a hotter climate. 

Topiary and hedging
Train them as a standard, or on a wire fence as a hedge. Even grow them as an espalier.

To grow Bougainvilleas as shrubs rather than as climbers, choose the less vigorous varieties, unless you want to be continually pruning them.

Indoor plants
They need warmth and light so put them near a brightly lit window. Do not over-water – the top 2–3 cm of potting mix should feel dry before watering. Apply fertiliser sparingly as too much can lead to lush leafy growth with few flower bracts. 

Bonsai specimens
Trained early, these plants can make stunning bonsai due to their natural twisted or gnarled stems and vibrant bracts.

Cover a pergola or fence
As a substitute to shadecloth or timber slats, Bougainvilleas can provide much needed shade under a pergola and offer a great barrier plant (due to thorns) along fences.


Bougainvilleas are hardy plants that can tolerate light frosts, dry soil, coastal conditions, hot weather, humidity and reflected heat. Outside the tropics, they are semi-deciduous and their growth is less vigorous. They have few pest or disease problems.
In warmer, frost free climates, you can grow a wider range of bougainvilleas easier, and achieve flowering for longer periods.
Bougainvilleas still grow and flower well in Mediterranean climates. Old purple flowering varieties are to be found thriving without any attention, surviving frost and drought, in abandoned homesteads in Southern Victoria.
  • Grow against a north facing wall to catch maximum sun
  • Cover plants on coldest nights with bubble plastic or even hessian to minimize effect of frost
  • Place organic mulch on the soil over winter (mulch keeps roots insulated from cold and generates heat as it decomposes)
  • Grow in pots, outside in summer, then take them under cover in winter.
  • Build a large plastic cover over the plant in winter – but beware, if left in summer, foliage may suffer sun burn.


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There are 14 species of Bougainvilleas and hundreds of named varieties, many of which are hybrids.
Many of the most commonly grown varieties are hybrid cultivars.
Bougainvillea cultivars can vary in size, flower colour, the amount of thorns, hardiness to cold; and foliage colour (both green and variegated leaved varieties occur).
Some are semi deciduous in cold conditions (ie. They drop more leaves in winter, but never all of their leaves).

A hybrid is usually a named variety bred by man, from two or more different naturally occurring varieties.

Most Bougainvilleas are bred from the following species:

B. x buttiana – Wide variety of cultivars with mainly orange, pinks and red bracts

B. glabra –- Bracts are magenta to purple. There are numerous cultivars including:
'Alba' which has pure white flowers
'Formosa', a strong grower with lilac flowers
'Magnifica' which has deep purple bracts
'Magnifica trailii' which has magenta bracts
'Sanderana' which has bright purple bracts and downy leaves

B. spectabilis – Bracts are typically purple, pink or light red. Cultivars provide an extensive range of colours.


Plant Health

There are relatively few pests or diseases.

Excessive growth and poor flowers generally mean it has been fertilised too much. 
Aim to use a balanced or low-Nitrogen fertilisers around Bougainvilleas.


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