University of Florida

Bougainvillea

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Bougainvillea is a tropical vining shrub that comes in a wide array of bright and fanciful colors.

The “flowers” are actually modified leaves, called bracts, that are long-lasting and bright. The colorful bracts outshine the plant's true (but tiny) flower, much like a poinsettia. They appear periodically throughout most of the year, but are especially plentiful in the winter, when the splashes of color are a welcome sight. Bougainvillea blooms in fuschia, red, white, yellow, and orange.

Bougainvilleas require full sun and actually perform better when their soil is left a little dry, making this a perfect plant for the drought-tolerant landscape. It needs to be protected from frost and freeze.

It can be pruned into a shrub-like form, trained to grow over fences and trellises, and even used for espliers. Dwarf varieties can be planted on top of a wall or in hanging baskets, where they will create cascades of color.