Where it Originated
This plant is native to Brazil, South America where it thrives in an equatorial habitat in which day and night lengths are nearly the same.
Where it Can be Grown
This plant can be grown in a variety of soils: from sandy to sloping to rocky as well as a broad range of elevations.
In its natural habitat, Bougainvilla tends to bloom all year. Outside of its natural habitat this plant tends to bloom in spring and fall.
This plant is heat and drought tolerant but very sensitive to frost, so it is best grown in regions that do not have a long and harsh winter season.
Bougainvilla glabra is distinguishable by its large thorns and beautifully-colored, papery "flowers," hence the common name. The actual flowers are white and tiny, and they occur in clusters of two or three surrounded by the colorful bracts that are what we notice from afar. This species is a popular plant for people due to its adaptability to many different growth forms; it can be a vine, a shrub, or a dwarf-growing kind.
General Care for Adult Plant
When grown indoors, Bougainvilla is best grown near windows where they can get a lot of light (at least four hours a day) which is crucial to their success. Watering should be moderate but thorough; allow the top two-thirds to dry out a bit in-between watering. Watering should be greatly reduced during resting periods but do not allow the plant to dry out. Potting medium should be soil-based with a good amount of peat moss mixed in. Fertilizer should be applied as soon as new growth begins in spring and once every two weeks during flowering season. This plant should be kept at room temperature or above and not below 10 degrees Centigrade (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Bougainvilla glabra normally requires active pruning during growing seasons or it will overtake whatever is near. Juvenile shoots may be bent and tucked inward, creating a wrapping affect so that it grows into itself and looks more appealing. When pruning it is important to wear protective gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself: the thorns can be up to an inch and a half long!
Bougainvilla glabra does best when propagated by cuttings taken from new growth. Spring is the best time for our area (Southeast United States). After making the cutting it is suggested that the cut end be dipped in a rooting (growth) hormone and planted in a warm place for a few weeks to allow adequate root formation. When transplanting it is very important to keep root disturbance to a minimum.
Webpage made by Casey L. McManus (Greenhouse Intern)
Armstrong State University
Plant Rescue. July 10, 2015. Plants and Flowers: A Comprehensive Plant and Flowers Database. http://www.plantsrescue.com/tag/bougainvilla-glabra/