Bougainvilleas are tropical plants that thrive in outdoor areas with low rainfall and intense heat, someone say desert! They need lots of sun and are happy with Arizona temperatures reaching over 100 degrees. They have thin roots that are somewhat delicate and we find our Bougainvilleas take more of our attention in the garden.
My conclusion and my gardening experience with Bougainvilleas is that they are happier growing in large pots with good drainage.
In this picture above, the stem looks bare because I recently removed the dead leaves and new blooms are just arriving. The Bougainvillea loves this planter and will fill out in no time!
The amount of watering needed for your bougainvillea is directly related to your area and the local weather. There are some basics – Bougainvillea is a drought resistant plant, and requires very little water once established and mature. Let the soil dry between waterings; if your Bougainvillea’s roots stay continuously wet it will promote a weak and shallow root system. Wilting is the best indicator that watering is needed. Don’t let it dry out completely as this will cause bracts and foliage to drop.
For Bougainvilleas planted in the ground: At the time of watering, do it thoroughly – making sure that every inch of root gets watered! I use long bamboo garden stakes to measure how far down the watering has reached and I soak until it reaches 8 inches. This will create a stronger root system for your bougainvillea. Deep watering is the key!
In Florida, landscape professionals commonly perform a hard cut at the first sign of summer, and keep on a regular trimming schedule all summer long to maintain size. Pinching is the method of removing the soft tips of young plant stems to encourage fuller growth. This hardy plant will send out several new stems just below the pinched tip. I am going to prune/pinch all 6 of our Bougainvilleas this week. My Arizona Garden keeps me busy, and I love it!
The more regularly you pinch, the more your bougainvillea will branch and bloom. The best time to prune or pinch is after the flush of color or flowering cycle is completed. Flowering cycles are typically four to six weeks. Lets get pinching!
Like many people who savor gardening as a hobby, we fancy the bright colors and upbeat feeling a sunflower brings! So, how many varieties of sunflowers are there?
First, SUNFLOWERS belong to the genus Helianthus, which contains over 70 species. Most varieties are annuals; but, Helianthus incorporates 38 species that are perennial (grow back every year on their own). With so many cultivars out there one can get overwhelmed quickly! We’ve identified several Sunflower favorites to make it easier.
The variety called “Holiday Sunflower” has uneven heights and multiple blooms.
Sunflowers track the sun throughout the day, but when they are fully grown the mature flower-heads face towards the east and no longer move. To grow the best sunflowers they will need full sun!
The variety called Ring of Fire is another dwarf sunflower species that is very uniform and under 3 feet in height.
Dwarf sunflowers are a perfect choice if you want to grow sunflowers in a pot or window container. After choosing the size of the container, add a layer of small rocks to help the soil drain. To grow sunflowers you will need fertile moist soil with heavy mulch.
The variety called Big Smile Sunflower is under 2 feet in height, has multiple blooms and is a Dwarf Sunflower Plant.
The sunflower stem is rough and hairy with a circular head of flowers. The head has hundreds of individual flowers which mature into seeds.
The sunflower species called Autumn Beauty branches out with a variety of yellow, red and orange colors.
In the 16th century, sunflower seeds from the Americas were brought to Europe along with sunflower oil and they became a popular cooking ingredient.
Tohokujhae Sunflowers are bright yellow with multiple blooms. This variety has big double flowers 6-7 inches across. The height of Tohokujhae sunflowers is 3-6 feet.
The leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed and the fiber in the stems can be used in the production of paper.
Some say Sonja Sunflowers are a weaker variety. The height is uneven and ranges from 3-5 feet. This sunflower has a dark center with big yellow petals.
Define drought tolerant. What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).
A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant. Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.
Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.
Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss. Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.
Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.
In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.
CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.
High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.
Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.
Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.
Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.
This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet). Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.
Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.
There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.
Will my Bougainvillea plant grow in a container? Yes and it will be a very happy plant. Bougainvilleas do great in most types of pots and containers. These plants are not easy to transplant so make sure the pot you choose is big enough to last the Bougainvillea for years to come.
Although they like their roots crowded in a container, Bougainvilleas do not like standing water. Make sure your pot has good drainage so the Bougainvillea does not get root rot.
Fill your container with potting soil and place the bougainvillea plant inside. Find a sunny location and it will be easy to keep your Bougainvillea happy and healthy.
Bougainvilleas have beautiful red, pink and purple colored bracts, which are specialized leaves that contain the plant’s white slender flowers.
Bougainvillea plants can grow rather large so they must be kept pruned in pots and containers. You can train your Bougainvillea to grow up a trellis or in the shape of a tree.
During the winter, Bougainvillea plants can be most striking and provide gardens with abundant color. Winter is when Bougainvillea Vines and Plants reach their peak color.
The small heart shaped bracts of the Bougainvillea are quite delicate to the touch, and are crinkly in appearance.
How long will a Bougainvillea plant display their color? The length of time depends on how much sun and heat it receives and how healthy the Bougainvillea plant is.
Typically, a healthy Bougainvillea will bloom for about 3 weeks.
Bougainvilleas love sun and more sun. They are heat tolerant and the hotter the better. At the very minimum Bougainvilleas need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight.
Supply your Bougainvillea with regular monthly fertilization. Nitrogen and phosphates are critical to flowering. One of the best Bougainvillea fertilizers I’ve come across so far is BOUGAIN.
You can prune your Bougainvillea any time during the year because it does not affect bloom initiation. If you want the Bougainvillea to grow up, then prune the outer branches. If you want your Bougainvillea to grow out, then prune the new growth. Trim your Bougainvillea drastically before bringing it inside for winter.
Bougainvillea plants and vines have a BLOOM CYCLE followed by a rest cycle whether you trim them or not.
I recommend a little trim or pinching at the end of each Bougainvillea bloom cycle as it promotes more budding for the next one. Our plants just ended a bloom cycle so I will be trimming Bougainvilleas this week.
When should you prune desert bird of paradise shrubs?
Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima , which is what I have, should be in late winter or early spring.
I pruned mine a few weeks ago with a sharp pair of garden sheers. Many people cut these plants almost to the ground. I don’t, I prune my Red Bird of Paradise bushes about 18 inches from ground level.
Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes, trees, and shrubs thrive in dry conditions; once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with fern looking leaves blooming with orange, red or yellow flowers.
The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruning.
Caesalpinia gilliesii, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas; planted as to give an effect of wild growth and may some year be considered native in the rest of the southwestern US. In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.
This yellow flowering desert shrub has clusters of beautiful yellow flowers with long red stamens. The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a fast growing, upright shrub that is originally from Argentina. Pruning your Yellow Bird of Paradise bush will encourage dense growth.
Yellow Bird of Paradise is drought tolerant and very durable, also cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best for ALL Bird of Paradise Plants. The yellow bird of paradise shrub is toxic.
This Hardy Bird of Paradise shrub can grow to the height of 10 ft.
In the early Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems. In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week. Water it deeply to stimulate an effective root system and tap-root.
The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree, see photo below.
In the photo ABOVE see the yellow flowers and rounded shape of the leaves on the Mexican Bird of Paradise bush or tree.
Whether you pick the Yellow, Mexican or Red Bird of Paradise shrubs or trees, you are certainly choosing a winner for your desert garden!
Why doesn’t my bougainvillea bloom? Bougainvilleas like their roots to be crowded in a pot. If planted in the ground, the Bougainvillea may not bloom as much. If you want more color in your garden, grow your Bougainvillea in containers! Its vivid color is formed in the three bracts that surround the little white flower.
Bougainvillea does well growing on a trellis. The 2 vines in the picture are a Bougainvillea vine in a pot next to the Mandevilla Vine growing in another container. I trained both vines to continue growing up the trellis.
The pictures of these plants growing on our front porch gives you and idea of how happy the Mandevilla Plant is in the large container and how well the Bougainvillea Bush does in a pot.
To grow your flowering Bougainvillea shrub/vine choose a very sunny place. Be sure your pots have good holes in the bottom, so you will have good drainage. Fertilize with Hibiscus food as it has more potash than many other fertilizers. Be sure to measure exactly the amount of food according to the size of your pot. Bougainvillea comes from a hot humid climate, and they love the heat!
Be sure the dirt in the pot feels dry before you water your bougainvillea. Water large pots until water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom. There are exceptions to watering and caring for your Bougainvillea. Here in the southern Arizona desert we have had some temperatures above 110 degrees F. When I saw any of our plants wilting, including the Bougainvillea plant and Mandevilla vine I watered them. Being very careful not to get water on the leaves so they do not get burned from the Sun!
The Bougainvillea is climbing up the bamboo sticks to the trellis and combining with the Mandevilla vine.
If you want your Bougainvillea to grow up and not out you must trim/prune the stems that grow outwards. Keep them short around the bottom.
I found that the plants we cut back are growing straight up the bamboo garden stakes, look at the picture of our bougainvillea. The Bougainvilleas I do not prune, have many leaves but fewer blooms, color.
During this winter, both the Mandevilla bush/vine and the drought tolerant shrub, Bougainvillea, did ok. The winter temperatures dropped to the mid 30’s. I removed all the dead leaves.
Bougainvillea is drought resistant, I do not call it drought tolerant because it is not a desert native plant. Bougainvillea are native to South America. This flowering bush or is heat resistant to the extreme. Probably the best heat resistant desert plant is the Bougainvillea. Caring for and growing a Bougainvillea takes more effort but it is worth it. Note how short I prune the bottom branches of the Bougainvillea in the front pot.
Growing a Mandevilla – traditionally it is called a Dipladenia, but they are different in how they grow and look. For basic purposes they are vines with the Dipladenia growing better as a shrub or bush and being planted in a container or does well as a hanging plant. The Mandevilla is a climbing vine and does well twining and growing on a trellis.
Our Mandevilla Vine prefers part shade. It receives bright light but is also partially protected from rain and the Arizona Monsoon season. It is NOT drought tolerant or drought resistant. But the Mandevilla plant is HEAT RESISTANT. Our Mandevilla is doing incredible and growing well in the pot. Please see the attached photos.
It has bloomed continually most of the year. As far as pruning the Mandevilla Plant. I remove the Mandevilla yellow leaves, and trim a few branches that may have died but that is about it. This Mandevilla vine, bush, plant takes very little pruning. Although it is NOT drought tolerant, it doesn’t seem to have any problems with the desert heat as long as I water it every day. If your Mandevilla vine/bush can be planted in part shade… I would recommend this tropical flowering bush for any garden, from planting in Florida to growing in Texas, Arizona and California.
In this picture, we took 4 large trellises bending the top 2 to form the arch. As the Mandevilla Plant grew I used garden tape and ties to gently connect it to the trellis. The Mandevilla vines grow back and forth along the top of the trellis giving our desert yard a tropical, lush look. Our trellises were purchased from Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/
Mandevilla is a genus of plants belonging to the Dogbane (attributed to its toxicity) family. Native to South America. It has about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines (any plant with a growth habit of climbing, stems or runners).
The Mandevilla flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and red. The Hummingbirds and butterflies visit our Mandevilla often. It is a pollen yielding plant that is fast growing and high flowering. In conclusion, Mandevilla is easy to care for as long as it gets watered regularly, has a trellis to climb on, is in part shade and protected from winds and rain.