Spotlight on bougainvillea


Flowering plants

Vibrant magenta bougainvillea flowers with white centres and green leaves.

Bougainvillea is a drought-tolerant, water-wise flowering plant that will deliver an explosion of colour throughout most of the year, even in winter. It can be grown on a trellis up a wall, over a pagoda, as an impenetrable thorny hedge and in containers, too. Choose a dwarf variety if you have a small garden.


Bougainvillea is a genus of thorny ornamental vining plants. These evergreen flowering plants are native to coastal Brazil and thrive in humid tropical and subtropical areas. Once established, they are extremely drought tolerant, requiring very little water. The hotter it is, the better these beautiful plants like it.


  • Plant in an area that receives full sun.


  • Don’t overwater, but don’t let soil dry out completely. Give the plant a good watering every 3–4 weeks.


  • Plant in sandy, loose, humus-rich, well-draining soil.


  • Feed with a potash-rich fertiliser like 3:1:5 or 2:3:4 after every flush of flowers. Renew mulch at the end of every winter.


Expert tips

  • Wear gardening gloves when pruning – the thorns can be vicious.
  • Don’t let the plants grow too freely. They’ll take over a garden easily and will become difficult to cut back.
  • Holding off on watering for a short period can coax a flush of flowers.