Monday 14 May 2012

Brilliant Bougainvillea

Exotic and brilliantly colourful this amazing bougainvillea with its intensely coloured bracts, sits forgotten in the corner of the conservatory all winter, then almost overnight it puts on this fantastic show which lasts for weeks and weeks. The plant was a free gift with the house so I don't know its age but it seems immensely happy with its lot. It lives in an unheated conservatory which gets pretty cold in the winter and amazingly hot in the summer. For part of the day at least it tolerates the full heat of the sun as the conservatory roof is only partially shaded. Bourgainvillea can withstand temperatures as low as freezing so long as they are kept on the dry side and I am sure mine has endured temperatures of around freezing, causing it to lose leaves, but it recovered.

 It gets scant watering in the winter and a good slosh once a week when the weather warms up. Too much water in early spring can be a cause of poor flowering in bougainvillea. When I say flowering I should point out that the flashy coloured bit is a bract, the flowers are far more staid, insignificant little trumpets held at the centre of each cluster of bracts. As for feeding, well it gets a couple of general purpose plant food slow release pellet shoved into the soil about now ish, that's it.

Since it is a fairly big plant (though it does not object to pruning) and a lover of good light the bougainvillea is probably best suited to life in a conservatory, but if you have the right spot it is very easy to keep. The rampant splash of colour this wonderfully undemanding plant is delivering is all the more welcome because outside it is grey, miserable and still raining!

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