The popularity of bougainvilleas in Australian gardens comes as little surprise. These hardy climbers will bring dazzling colour to your garden throughout the year, even in severe neglect or drought. Bougainvilleas are also versatile. Traditionally a climber, bougainvilleas can be trained to behave like shrubs, trees – even hedges. Bougainvilleas also make spectacular hanging baskets and pot specimens.
Bougainvilleas are available in all the warmer shades of the spectrum like red, pink, orange, white, gold, yellow and warm purple. There are also varieties with variegated foliage, so carefully choose your bougainvilleas to suit the look and colour scheme you want.
‘Bambino’ bougainvilleas – compact forms of bougainvilleas
Bambino bougs are a collection of new bougainvillea selected for their smaller growth habit and superior flowering. Bambino Bougs come in various vibrant colours and varieties suitable for enhancing pot plants, courtyards, patios, balconies, hanging baskets and mass planting. A rewarding low-maintenance plant for a well drained soil in a sunny position.
Bougainvillea shrubs in the garden
It is easy to train a bougainvillea to become a shrub and they are very forgiving of the beginner with the pruning shears. Make a mistake and they will quickly recover enough to give you a second chance. Dig 5 IN 1® Organic Fertiliser into the soil before planting and fertilise every 6 months with Searles Hibiscus & Bougainvillea Food for best results. Prune off runaway branches as it grows, so that the bush maintains a compact, round shape. Once the bush stands between 100 and 150cm tall, prune off the branches on the lower 50cm of the bush. Cut right up against the trunk. This should achieve a pleasing, ‘lolly-pop’ shape. Continue to prune when needed. To make the most of flowering, stop pruning when flowers start to appear and begin again when flowering has finished. To boost flowering, fertilise fortnightly with Searles Flourish Soluble Plant Food.
Bougainvilleas in hanging baskets
Choose bougainvilleas that are not too advanced for growing in hanging baskets — Bambino varieties are ideal. Use large hanging baskets at least 50cm wide, as smaller baskets will dry out too quickly in hot weather. Use a high quality potting mix such as Searles Platinum Potting Mix and make sure the original soil level of the pot does not fall below the new soil level in the basket, once planted. Once your bougainvillea hanging baskets are watered they will become quite heavy, so pot them up and hang them before applying water. Hang the basket in full sun and rotate the basket every two or three weeks for even flowering.
Bougainvillea as espaliers
Espaliering a plant means flattening the branches against a lattice or wall, in a formal pattern. During the 17th Century, this was a popular feature in gardens and has made a revival over the past few decades. Fruit trees are often used for espaliers, but bougainvillea’s long branching habit create marvellous displays. Bougainvillea is easy to manipulate the branches when they are young, to make a stunning feature on a hot wall or the western side of the garden. First, start with a careful selection of location and within a few years you can be attacking it with hedge shears, and it still will come back strong and gorgeous.