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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A gorgeous bougainvillea 

When my husband and I went to the Bahamas many years ago, we saw the most gorgeous vines growing up the sides of the hotel. The blooms were abundant and an intense fuchsia color. We vowed that if we ever figured out what the plant was and could grow it at home, we would do so.

I finally stumbled across a picture of the plant years later after we had relocated to Florida and found out they were bougainvillea vines. Ever since I have had this luscious vine growing in my garden.

Nyctaginaceae is an evergreen shrubby vine native to the tropics. The color comes not from its tiny flowers, as shown in the picture, but from the three large bracts that surround them. The vines produce a variety of colors from white to yellow orange, red, pink, lavender as well as combinations of colors.

When planting, be sure to provide a sturdy support as the vine will become heavier as it grows. If you would prefer not to stake bougainvillea, it can act as a sprawling shrub with good pruning. Be careful of the stems when handling as it produces sharp thorns.

Plant in sun and fertilize in spring and summer. Water normally throughout the growing season and don't be afraid to prune bougainvillea after it blooms. It will help renew the plant, provide shape and direct its growth. In northern climates, bougainvillea can be container grown. Spring Hill Nursery carries the Raspberry Ice variety. Click on the blinking icon to the right for more information.

Happy Gardening and watch out for those thorns.

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Thanks to Andrew Stenning who contributed the photograph for our masthead

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