Bougainvillea: A potential ornamental plant
By Gulzar Akhtar (Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF)
(Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd) belongs to the family
Nyctaginaceae, which is composed of 30 genera and 300
species but in Pakistan only 5 genera and 11 species are
It is native to South America
(Brazil) and south of southern Argentina.
It was first discovered in 1768
by Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea (a mathematician and an
admiral in the French navy) during his journey to Pacific
Ocean and first time published as 'Buginvillĉa' in 1789 by
A.L. de Jussieu in Genera Plantarum.
Then its spelling was corrected
as Bougainvillea' in the Index Kewensis in the 1930s.
It was first introduced in the
Europe and traded to the Australia and other countries.
Kew Gardens play very important
role in distributing it in the world.It has plenty of
beautiful flowers with the necessary characters.
As it can tolerate hot dry
condition and can be used to grow under drought conditions
but full sunshine and regular watering is needed for
bountifully flowers. Constant wet soil is not good for it.
It work well in rich and acidic soils with proper pH, which
should not be more than 6 other wise it can hinder in
nutrient uptake especially Iron. Its ability of salt
tolerant makes it able to grow and increase esthetic value
of coastal regions.
Baugainvillea has cluster of
flowers at the terminal of thorning branches of plants.
Flowers are of various colored, small tubular, inflated
inside throughout its length and remain in the form of group
These groups form cluster at the terminal parts of the
branches of plant. Flowers are quickly and abundantly
produced in moderate temperature with shorter day length and
Flowering is enhanced by pruning and pinching of older
branches as new flowers produces on the fresh growth.
Pruning is also necessary to remove dead, older, diseased
branches and to give desired shape to the plant.
High pruning is recommended when you want new flushed or to
move the plants indoor in winter, while light pruning for
giving proper shape to the plants.
Plant growth and flowering also supported by slightly moist
and fertile soil.
The usefulness of bougainvillea is well-known as it is
extremely flashy, floriferous, disease resistant and hardy
It is a straggling shrub and it will be true to say that our
parks, roads, buildings, houses will not be beautiful like
today without legendary flowers of bougainvillea.
Dwarf cultivars of bougainvillea have been developed which
can be used in difficult to manage areas.
Single stem bougainvillea tree is very suitable for growing
over arbors, into espaliers, onto walls, or to cascade down
These can be used in hanging baskets, hanging pots and
hanging planters and placed around porch, under eves and
along the fence.
Bougainvillea is also valuable for Bonsai enthusiasts as it
can be used for bonsai techniques due to its ease training
and radiant flowering in the spring.
These are used along the roads in the industrial cities for
biomonitoring of air pollution because of biochemical
defense agents, o-dihydrophenols, anthrocyanin, lignin and
It also has the Antiviral protein and anti-inflammatory
activities as leaves extract of Bougainvillea spectabilis
has inhibitory effect against tomato spotted wilt tospovirus
on capsicum annum and reduces okra yellow vein mosaic virus
Propagation of bougainvillea can be done by cutting,
grafting and seed. For cutting soft terminal wood and mature
intermediate wood can be used, which should be almost 1/8
inch thick with 4-5 nodes. Leaf bud cuttings can be used for
propagation under limiting source availability.
In this case only one bud with leaf and wood is used.
Grafting can also be used for propagation of cultivars,
which are hard to root or have insufficient chlorophyll in
their leaves for photosynthesis.
Seed may be used for propagation without any treatment to
break dormancy. Plant tissue culture technique can be used
for producing healthy disease free plants of bougainvillea
round the year under aseptic conditions.
Courtesy: Pakissan Team