Bougainvilleas: Perfect for the summer gardens of Hays County

If you are looking for a strikingly beautiful flowering plant that loves our hot and dry summers, look no further than bougainvillea.

This pretty plant, known for its wide variety of bright colors, was discovered in South America by Philibert Commercon, a botanist accompanying French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his 1768 trip about the world.

Like the poinsettia, it is the showy leaf-like bracts surrounding the plant’s inconspicuous white flowers that give bougainvillea its color.

Flower forms are both singles and doubles, with some varieties showing more than one color on a single bush. The variety called Surprise has both pink and white bracts and is very showy.

Bougainvilleas need at least 6 hours of direct sun, and rich, well-drained soil. Allow them to dry out between waterings.

Because they are tropical, bougainvilleas require winter protection. If you grow them in containers with premium potting soil, it will allow you more options when winter arrives. With a balanced fertilizer, you can have them in bloom throughout the summer and fall.

The key to keeping them alive for the following spring is to trim them back during the winter months and keep them from freezing weather.

If you want to plant them in the ground in the Hays/Travis County area, a southerly, sunny wall is the perfect location. Driving around south Austin, I have spotted many beautiful specimens in this location.

An added attraction – butterflies love the flowers. Also, if you live in a neighborhood with deer, you’ll find that mostly they leave them alone.

Bougainvilleas also can look beautiful in hanging baskets. My favorite variety is Juanita Hatten. Dark red in full sun, Juanita is a compact and free-flowering, a perfect fit for a 12-inch basket.

Spice up that deck or entryway. Bougainvillea can sure make it happen. Happy Gardening Everyone.

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