Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Great Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea spectabilis

Family: Nyctaginaceae (nyk-taj-i-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bougainvillea (boo-gan-VIL-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: spectabilis (speck-TAB-ih-liss) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Vines and Climbers

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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By Chamma
Thumbnail #1 of Bougainvillea spectabilis by Chamma

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By Chamma
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There are a total of 34 photos.
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14 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive 1cros3nails4gvn On Sep 30, 2006, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

in hilton head island, sc this will grow outside and do very well , but in the winter it dies back a little. despite what the map says, hilton head is actually zone 9a. it never gets below 20 F. it is also lik that in columbia. there it hardly ever even gets to 15F. i know this because i grew up there

Neutral firelili On Feb 10, 2006, firelili from San Diego, CA wrote:

i have one but my apt doesnt get sunlight on my porch. so it never blooms in the shade. i also dont know how to prune it so its not looking to good. but i seen how nice they grow around were theres sun and they are lovely. i recomend it only if you have exposure to the sun.

Positive patp On May 4, 2005, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Our Bougainvillea is potted and kept indoors in a south-facing location during cool weather. It's trimmed when indoors to keep it manageable, it blooms year-round, and is a joy to behold. The pink flowers seem to change to a slightly different color when the plant is moved outside.

Positive JaxFlaGardener On May 3, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

These plants are "iffy" here in NE Florida (on the borderline of Zone 8b/9a). They are often frozen back to the ground and sometimes don't recover when we happen to have an occasional hard freeze in winter. If offered some protection (such as a heavy mulch of hay and covering in visqueen plastic) for a few winters, the root systems can get better established and are then better able to survive the cold nights.

I have used this winter protection method to keep alive a bronze colored variety for about 3 years and it now climbs about 8' high and spreads across a 4 ' wide trellis. Other colors I have planted are limping along, still trying to get established. One Bougainvillea that I planted last season didn't receive much winter protection and died back completely to the root crown. New growth, however, is beginning to emerge from the roots.

Positive marshtackie On Nov 18, 2004, marshtackie from Orlando, FL wrote:

Under Bougainvillea glabra, I noted that the plants I had in the open ground didn't bloom very spectacularly because they'd been stupidly planted (not by me!) too close to a lawn and under the eaves of the house, with the result that they got too much nitrogen and too little sun, (I should have mentioned at the time that the plants in the open ground were B. spectabilis, not B. glabra, though I don't think it would have made a difference.)

Well, we've had a couple of hurricanes lately, a number of trees down, and all of a sudden I have a major flush of bloom on those bougainvilleas! They're getting more sun, of course, and the lawn hasn't been fertilized in god-knows-when.

Bougainvilleas, whatever the species, seem to be nearly immune to bugs. They grow so fast that they keep you plenty busy pruning, and yes, they're thorny: I once got thwacked in the face by a large branch.

My understanding is that it's the magenta/purple ones that are used for Agua de bugambilia in Mexico--B. glabra, I would think.

Bougainvilleas will grow in all hot climates, whether humid or dry; but you'll probably find the finest plants with the heaviest bloom in drier climates. Best I've seen were in Greece, Morocco, Portugal, Mexico and California.

Positive raserrab On Apr 20, 2004, raserrab from Keller, TX wrote:

For our Spanish speaking friends: Esta planta florece todo el año en climas cálidos, aguanta el invierno y no necesita mucha agua. Tiene varios nombres en español "buganvilla", "buganvilia", "veranera", "santa Rita" "san Joaquín". Es originaria de Sur América, pero se ha aclimatado en todo el mundo. Yo vivo en Texas y tengo una que florece muy bien y no necesita mucho cuidado.

Positive foodiesleuth On Apr 20, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

I love the clusters of color on this plant. On the western areas of this island (drier side) they can grow to spectacular heights and have a profussion of blooms. There is one area in Kailua-Kona where it looks like the walls are completely draped in color. It will grow in our wetter area, but the bloom clusters are not as big. We have a small one in our yard that is basically white with a tinge of pink. Very ethereal looking.

Positive angelam On Apr 19, 2004, angelam from melbourne
Australia wrote:

This is a spectacular plant. For some reason in Melbourne it is the purple variety that seems to cope best with our conditions, whereas further North in Sydney all varieties grow profusely.

It does stop blooming here for a few weeks in Winter. I never water it, rarely throw it any food, hack into it mercilessly to keep the path by its fence open and it just blooms and blooms. My plant is over 20 years old, with a trunk to match but still very vigorous.

The spines are vicious, so plan how you are getting rid of any prunings before you cut.

Positive Maudie On Dec 4, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

When container grown these plants are sensitive to being moved from one location to another. Place them in a sunny location and water when soil becomes dry; leave them there until time to bring inside. This usually causes the leaves to drop but do not despair. Keep moderately damp until the plant adjusts to its new location and puts on new foliage. Keep pruned back.

Positive smashedcricket On Dec 3, 2003, smashedcricket from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Plant does well in sandy acidic soils. Loves temperatures between 65 and 95f. Does not like cold wet conditions. Use on a fence or hot southwest facing wall. Does well in southern parts of arizona,california,texas, and florida. The plant is native of the coastal regions of Brazil. Will tolerate salt sprays. Loves sandy soil. Needs regular fertilizer, especially one high in phosphorus. Needs fun sun, will not bloom well if in shady areas. If planted in a shaded location let dry enough for the plant to wilt to force bloom. Blooms best in fall and spring, but in tropical climates is everblooming.

Positive amorning1 On Nov 4, 2003, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

This plant grown outside, in front of a window will get a reflection from the window and quickly show phenominal growth. I've seen this on 2 different windows so I know its true. Native Indians used to use the thorny long branches as a primitive barbwire.

Positive macmex On Oct 31, 2003, macmex from Tahlequah, OK wrote:

Our family lived in Mexico for almost 14 years. This shrub was VERY popular everywhere we went in that country. Many people told us that a tea brewed from the flowers of the red varieties was an excellent home remedy for colds and coughs,being a natural decongestant. We had opportunity to try it, on numerous occasions. It's true! Wish we could grow it now, living in the northern US! Incidentally, what is commonly referred to as flowers on the Bougainvillea are not. The real flowers are very tiny and inconspicuous.

Neutral dho1655 On Oct 30, 2003, dho1655 from Belvedere Tiburon, CA wrote:

This plant is deer-resistant.

Positive stmarie On Aug 28, 2003, stmarie wrote:

We've grown this shrub in Tucson, AZ and it's very popular here. Its beautiful flowers are like a tissue paper rose and the plant usually gets loaded with flowers most of the year. It comes in a variety of colors but the deep rose color does the best. We also have an orange-flowering Bougainvillea and the flowers are not very many. The flowers last a very long time.

They are easy to care for but do not over water. It does not like a lot of water, but on the other hand, don't let it dry out either.

Some people do not enjoy this plant because on windy days it seems to fly into others yards. We enjoy them, but I need to learn more about them and the type of soil, fertilizer to use and how to prune them properly.

The root system is very sensitive so try not to disturb it. I cleaned out a few weeds and some other tree roots and upset the roots which seemed to slow down the plant's growth. It's finally looking a lot better after several months.

Positive glover On Jun 2, 2003, glover from Conroe, TX wrote:

This plant is absolutely gorgeous and easy to care for. The leaves are nothing special and the overall shape of the plant is rather free-form, but the blooms are stunning. Bougainvilleas look good particularly around a pool because they lend a tropical touch.

Negative Lavanda On Jan 21, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

When grown in tropical and subtropical climates, this plant can become huge, and developes long, sharp thorns. Care should be taken to site it where it will not be a danger to children or pets.

Positive Chamma On Jan 9, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Bougainvillea do very well in the hot, dry, sandy soils. They add color year round to gardens and can be trained as a hedge, a climber, or as a groundcover.

Neutral Terry On Mar 10, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A rambling, drought resistant, thorny vine. Blooms on new growth. Do not overwater, as it will produce more vegetation and fewer flowers. Blooms are bright pink, coral, red, orange, or purple. Some varieties have variegated foliage, adding to the plant's interest.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Goodyear, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona (2 reports)
Arroyo Grande, California
Belvedere Tiburon, California
Castro Valley, California
Desert Hot Springs, California
Elk Grove, California
Highgrove, California
Martinez, California
Moreno Valley, California
Perris, California
San Lorenzo, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Walnut Creek, California
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Dade City, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Maitland, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Lexington, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Deer Park, Texas
Harker Heights, Texas
Rye, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Zapata, Texas

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