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How to grow Bougainvillea

How to grow Bougainvillea

Gardening in the tropics is not always easy, the soil is often too sandy and there are sometimes bug issues and diseases like lethal yellow for palms. The owners of the duplex where we live were down recently and  happened to mention that they would love add bougainvillea to our garden. We do actually have one but it is very puny and does not produce the amount of flowers it should. I told them I would talk to my plant connection – if there is anyone that knows about bougainvillea care it is Marsha Waight. She has been helping businesses and private clients grow beautiful gardens for the past 20 years on Ambergris Caye.

I wrote Marsha to ask about bougainvillea flowers and how come the ones in our garden they either did not make it or are not growing well. We got email chatting back and forth and  in addition to her answer below, she is going to provide occasional ongoing gardening advice on tacogirl.com. So if you have any tropical gardening questions for Marsha or would like to get in touch with her for a gardening consultation email  me at tacogirlbelize{at}gmail.com

Growing Bougainvillea

The soil mixture has to be right,  some Peat Moss added for acid to the black dirt and sometimes the soil purchased is from the island and not the mainland and is extremely alkaline. No fertilizer for the first 3 weeks or until new growth is seen.  They need to be in a sunny area for maximum growth and not too much water as to not get root rot. They also don’t like salt air too much. If the area is dredged sand [not uncommon here] it will need really big hole to be filled with a soil mixture.

How to grow Bougainvillaea from cuttings

I only get about 50% from cuttings and that soil mixture is a bit different.

The moon needs to be in the  correct phase for maximum propagation, waning to send “things” down.  Take a woody cutting and make it about 12′ to 14 “.  Remove almost all of the leaves, a few, 2 or 3 are needed to continue photosynthesis, and push into a planting bag filled with mixture, being sure to firm up the soil around it,  no air around the root….. the soil should be a mixture of 1/3 soil, 1/3 peat. and 1/3 sand.  This may sound wrong ’cause peat holds moisture but provides acid and a soft growing medium for expected future roots and the sand is for drainage.

DO NOT put the cuttings where they get unlimited rain/moisture as that causes root rot. Let the cuttings get kind of dry before watering and that can be cheked by squeezing the planting bag.  over watering is worse than anything.

I have seen Marsha’s work for the past 7 years so I can say she has a green thumb for sure, I asked her for her island gardening history so you can get a better idea of her qualifications. If you would like a consultation with her for any of your tropical gardening needs contact Marsha Waight  at belizesandscapes@yahoo.com, and tell her you got her info  on tacogirl.com.

Jerry McDermott gave me my first start by hiring me to run his nursery in SPO years ago and also did some work for him at his Cayo nursery.  Gosh, I sure miss him.

20 years ago I worked at Victoria House for a few years before hurricane Mitch,  The Palms, Canary Cove last year, a huge project complete with heli. landing pad, the Barton’s Home up north, Amanda Symes home, and 20+ years ago Maya Beach when it was being built, Hol Chan beach Resort, Chris Berlins, La Perla and Banana Beach from its inception and Grand Caribe where at large resorts I build a nursery to lower costs. Also saves on freight and the condition of plants when they get here.  Have visited 90% of the nurseries in the country and have chosen which have the most viable plants and can ship.   Also did landscaping in NC. the Outer Banks area on the beach and in Southern Shore where it was a different beach zone. Have too much formal education that would be of no interest to many including turf management from UNCG. I work extensively with BAHA keeping up with whatever is new. Have a pest control license and practice proper spraying techniques including organic for clients that want that.

The first picture I took in Belize city of a healthy Bougainvillea plant, picture number 2 by Kay Scott shows how they use Bougainvillea petals to decorate for weddings at Grand Caribe Resort. The rest of the pictures are an assortment of plants and flowers from Grand Caribe and poolside plants at Banana Beach.

6 comments

  1. Any chance we could get plant names with the pictures?

  2. Will Add the rest of them in a bit Jana, waiting on Marsha to get the names of the ones I did not know. Found pics of similar on Google but no names to go with.

  3. Laurie, I have more bougainvillea than I know what to do with! In fact, we have to cut it back severely about once a month because it grows over the wall and down to the ground, giving any nearby n’er-do-wells from Marinaville a place to hide. You are welcome to come and get some trimmings any time you want. I don’t even have to be here…it’s readily available outside my wall.This picture doesn’t show them in bloom very well, but you can see that there are a whole lot of them!
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2467832302162&set=a.2467798181309.144659.1442953354&type=3&theater

  4. Thanks for the offer Sharyn, that is one big bush.

  5. if you leave the boganvilla in the flower pot put lots of slits in the pot, then put it in the ground.they flower more

  6. Great tip Debbie, thanks for sharing.