Bougainvillea

One of the most brilliant of tropical shrubs, the paper-like bracts of bougainvillea will offer an exotic and colourful touch to any greenhouse or garden room display. Indoors. where available light is often inadequate, these can be difficult plants unless placed in the lightest window position. In ideal conditions they will grow rapidly and soon find their way into the upper reaches of the room, so some form of support will have to be provided for growth to be tied to as it develops. The flower-like bracts begin to turn colour from March onwards, magenta shades being the more usual, although there are other colours that range from deep pink to white, with a fine yellow form being a particularly worthwhile acquisition.

While the plants are dormant during the winter months they will require no water and should be housed in a warm place. When growth develops in February the compost should be watered and any untidy growth can be pruned back to shape. Pruned pieces a few inches in length can be encouraged to root by placing them in a peat and sand compost and keeping them in a warm propagating frame: by using rooting powder even the oldest and toughest pieces can be successful. When polling use John Innes potting compost No. 2 or 3, depending on the size of the plant, and make sure that ample drainage is provided.

Temperatures in the region of 10 to 16"C (50 to 60°F) will be quite adequate, with lower temperatures in winter when the plants arc dormant. A good sunny position is an essential requirement, and a watchful eye should be kept for mealy bugs.

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