Living in Mexico

Dear Landscaper: Caring for bougainvilleas

Our resident landscapers advise on getting the most out of this popular plant

Dear Landscaper

What is the best way to prune and treat our bougainvilleas so we have lots of blooms this spring and summer?

Dear Reader

Given that our seasons are not extremely different throughout the year in Quintana Roo, pruning any dead branches at their point of origin is always good here. That is exactly what we do for our regular clients and is the reason their shrubs look nice all year round.

First, you must prune your bougainvillea (bugambilia in Spanish), to take out dead and damaged wood. Remove diseased or broken stems at least six inches into healthy wood. When any blooms fall off you can also trim back six inches or less, depending on the shape you want your plant to take.

Two of the four common bougainvilleas here are the “dwarf” and “giant”. The dwarf’s blossoms are either fuschia or purple, with smaller leaves and thorns. You can control the size and shape of this type. It is best for pots and pergolas, and if planted in good ground and soil it can also become a beautiful tree.

Prune the bougainvillea into a tree shape by selecting one strong stem and pruning out all others. Alternatively, select three strong stems and braid them together. Continue the braid as the stems grow. When the central trunk rises to the height you desire, pinch back the tops to encourage flowers. Trim out any competing growth.

The giant’s blossoms are vibrant red, the leaves and thorns are much larger and stronger. It is great for the sides of large buildings and open areas. You can prune and shape the giant the same as you care for the dwarf bougainvillea. If you would like to see just how big they can get in person, the downtown restaurant La Rana Cansada has one growing in their garden. The other types of bougainvillea in this area are “sorpresa” and the “Hungarian/climbing” species. I will explain these in the next issue of Dear Landscaper.

Send your questions to Greenway Landscaping, we are happy to help and advice is always free. greenwaylandscaping@email.com

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