Bougainvillea Basics

Bougainvillea in our entryway, a.k.a. God's waiting room.

Bougainvillea in our entryway, a.k.a. God’s waiting room. Credit Dalia Colón.

In my quest to become a more competent gardener, it makes sense to start with the plants my family already has.

First order of business: Figure out why our bougainvilleas are so sad-looking. We get a few magenta blooms out of them, but they’re far from the show-stoppers Hubby had in mind when he brought them home and set them under the awning by our front door.

I know better results are possible, because my neighbor’s bougainvillea looks like it’s ready for a Better Homes and Gardens cover shoot.

Last night, Google led me to the website of Bougainvillea Growers International, where it took me about two seconds to discover my major mistake. Under “Bougainvillea 101,” the “Climate” section reads as follows:

Bougainvillea thrives in full sun. At least 5 hours a day of direct sunlight is the minimal light required for good bloom. More hours of direct sun are better. Less than 5 hours and the plant may not bloom very well.


I should’ve figured this out a long time ago. Whenever I visit my brother in Phoenix, I admire the bougainvilleas that seem to line every yard, sidewalk and highway.

Bougainvillea livin' large in my brother's neighborhood near Phoenix. Credit: Dalia Colón.

Bougainvillea livin’ large in my brother’s neighborhood near Phoenix. Credit: Dalia Colón.

Sunlight good, shade bad. Got it.


Bougainvillea, welcome to your new home in our yard. I think you’re gonna like it here. Credit Dalia Colón.

In a perfect world, I’d move our bougainvillea plants to the other side of the building. But since we live in a townhouse, no es posible. What I can do, however, is move them from underneath the awning and into the actual yard, where they’ll have a fighting chance.


Posted on January 3, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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