The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Mimeographed Report No. 60-2 May, 1960
University of Florida
SUB-TROPICAL EXPERIMENT STATION
John Popenoe, John C. Noonan, and D. 0. Wolfer.barger .
The bougainvilleas are natives of South America and are members of the fbu r.o'l oc,
family or Nyctaginaceae. They are grown for the showy bracts whic2 enclose the -L '
flowers, not for their flowers as such. The bougainvilleas are named-after the
French navigator Louis A. de Bougainville (1729-1811) who discovered .thes. plants In
the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The name of the plant was originally spelledd
buginvillea, but the spelling has nowi been changed to agree with the spelling of
de Bougainville. Bougainvilleas are grown in Florida, South Texas, Southern Cali-
fornia, and throughout the tropics of the world.
Although 17 or more species are know', only two are commonly grown. Boginvillea
spectabilis Willd., has purple flwcer bracts and thorny stems. It is sometimes
grown without support and can be trained into a bush or tree-like form. The other
species is Bou;ainvillea glbra Choisy, which has less thorny stems and rose-red
flower bracts. It is a strong climber and needs support. In addition to these two
species there are many intermediate forms in many colors. Many of these forms have
been named as varieties and are listed in the variety list at the end of this paper,
Bougainvilleas are propagated from hard wood cuttings, Medium diameter stem sections
6 to 12 inches long, make the best cuttings, They can be taken any time during the
year but the best time is probably in late spring after the vines finish flowering,
because heavy pruning is usually done at this time. The cuttings can be rooted in
sand or other media. Some varieties are much more difficult to root than others and
should be rooted under mist. With these more difficult varieties commercial rooting
hormones are beneficial. The length of time necessary to develop roots on cuttings
may be as long as two months. Bougainvilleas do not ordinarily make seed under
Although bougainvilleas thrive on neglect, they need to be fertilized and watered to
become established, Young plants in Florida should be fertilized regularly with a
complete fertilizer such as 6-6-6-3 mixture (6% nitrogen, 67 phosphate, 67 potash,
and 37 magnesium). This should be applied several times during the first year. A
quarter pound of this mixture per plant per application should be adequate. When the
plants become established they need fertilizer less often. Established plants should
be fertilized only in late spring and summer. If fertilizer is applied after Sept-
ember or October there is likely to be vegetative growth and little flowering. Some-
times bougainvilleas develop a chlorosis in spite of being fertilized with a complete
fertilizer. This may be caused by a minor element deficiency. Minor element
deficiencies can be corrected by spraying the foliage with manganese, copper and
zinc. Preparations containing these nutrients are commercially available and
instructions on the label should be followed. Iron chlorosis, if found, can be
controlled by applying chelated iron to the soil.
Bougainvilleas can be grown in almost any soil and are moderately salt tolerant.
They are among the most beautiful plants grown on the Florida Keys. They do best
when planted in full sun and will do poorly in dense shade. The climbing types (as
indicated on the variety list) need to be pruned to stay on the trellises provided
for them. The bush types need to be pruned to maintain good shape. Some of the
varieties, including the bush types, are well adapted to hedging. Pruning of all
types should be done after flowering and during the summer. Pruning after September
and during the flowering season will greatly reduce the amount of bloom obtained
Frequent light pruning or pinching out of growing tips is oftsn the best way of
maintaining the bush types.
Bougainvilleas are comparatively free from serious diseases and insect pests and
thus are less troublesome to grow than many other plants. This factor is of impor-
tance where widespread plantings are made and it encourages increased planting.
The bougainvillea caterpillar, Asciodes gordialis Guen. is the most common pest of
bougainvillea. It feeds on the leaves and sometimes on the flowers, Caterpillars
hatch from the eggs laid on the foliage and begin feeding on the young leaves of new
growth flushes. Young larvae are about 1/25 inch long and grow to 3/4 to 1 inch long
They are nearly colorless at hatching but after eating leaf tissues, develop a green
color which blends with the leaves and makes detection difficult, Larvae spin silken
threads which tie the leaves together and then feed within this enclosed area. When
mature the larvae surround themselves with leaves and pupateo The moths which emerge
from the pupal cases are light tan colored, Partially eaten leaves, and leaves
rolled and tied together give plants an unsightly appearance. Some varieties are
attacked more than others. These insects are controlled with lead arsenate, used
at the rate of 3 pounds per 100 gallons of water, Several of the newer insecticides
should also give control of this insect, Thorough wetting of the plants is recom-
mended. Repeat applications may be needed after 3-4 weeks, especially when the
plants are growing rapidly.
A powder post beetle, Amnhicerus cornutus, Pallas, has been serious in some bougain-
villea plantings on Key Largo. Beetles burrow into the larger parts of the plants
starting in the crotches of twigs and branches. Burrows are about 3/8 inch in
diameter and may extend several inches A drench, wetting the larger and older
branches and stems with BUC (Benzene hexachloride), 2 pounds of 10% gamma isomer
wettable powder per 100 gallons of iater, is recommended for control, One pound of
lindane, 20 wp, per 100 gallons of water may also be used. A second application
is recommended three weeks after the first.
The following is a partial list of Bougainvillea varieties, their colors
and form. Most of these varieties are available in Florida!l
Brasilieneis (same as
Crawford's dark purple sedJliug'
Crimson lake Jr.
Harrisi (variegated leaves)
Harvard No, I
Variegata (variegated leaves)
bush or weak climber
bush or weak climber
bush or weak climber
/1 Many nurseries sell bougainvilleas only by color.
2/ Colors are taken from various descriptions including those in nursery