Growing Bougainvillea in Northeast Florida
Large masses of tropical colored bracts surround three petite flowers of the thorny sun-loving Bougainvillea. These Brazilian coastal natives do best in direct sunlight with numerous blooming cycles per year in sunny, dry conditions. They are available in bush, tree, and vine form. Growing Bougainvillea in Northeast Florida can be easy if planted in the right spot and protected from frost and freezing weather events.
“Bouganvillea are a fantastic plant if you have the right spot for it,” said Matthew Barlow, Earth Works garden center manager. “ The right spot is that place in the garden that’s hot, that’s sandy, that’s dry, get’s sun all day where nothing else wants to grow. That’s where the bougainvillea wants to be. It is a perfect solution for that place in the garden where it can be very difficult to grow other things especially if it’s getting blasted with the afternoon death rays come June, July, August, September and sometimes October. Do not put these in a place that’s low lying, shady, or stays wet for a long periods of time. High, dry, hot, sunny, is what the bougainvillea loves.”
Growing Bougainvillea in Northeast Florida with unpredictable low temperatures can be tricky, with some years having few touches of frost and other years having numerous hard freezes. Jacksonville is designated at the lower end of zone 8(8b) and the upper region of 9 (9a). “They (bougainvillea) are a hardy perennial here, although if we have hard frosts, hard freezes they can be knocked back considerably,” said Barlow. “I have seen bougainvilleas come back from some very cold temperatures. After the first Winter or two, the maintenance on them in the Winter is much less. In the first season or two, you might want to cover and protect them, the first couple of years to make sure their roots become established. Once the roots become established, they will bounce back very quickly in the Spring once the temperatures perk back up.”
“The best time to prune bougainvillea is in late winter or early spring after it flowers, or at the start of the rainy season,” according to the University of Florida. “If you wait until late summer or early fall, your plant may produce fewer flowers during the following winter.” There are numerous varieties of bougainvillea on the market that bloom best at different times of the year. Follow the grower’s recommendation for your specific variety.
“Also feeding is very important with the bougainvilleas,” said Barlow. “You want to keep them on a regular feeding schedule. For those of you who don’t like to use a water-soluble liquid fertilizer, which I recommend even a slow-release quarterly feed will encourage the blooming.” Avoid over fertilization that can encourage too much foliage at the expense of blooms. And if kept in pots they like to be pot-bound to bloom best.
Bougainvillea are both salt and drought tolerant, making them a hardy choice for southern coastal landscapes. Visit Earth Works garden center for a wide assortment of bougainvillea, soil amendments, and fertilizers. Schedule a design consultation to include bougainvillea in your landscape.
For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden and landscaping need contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online and at 904-996-0712.
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