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Bouganvillea, a tremendous tropical

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Have you seen gorgeous bougainvillea, perhaps on a warm tropical vacation? They grow very well in most tropical, warm areas. Climates with lots of sun seem to produce the best looking plants so climates with huge amounts of rainfall may not support as much dazzling color as is seen in the drier, sunnier subtropical climates of the world. However, some humidity is needed to stimulate flowering. Blooming occurs year round in most tropical climates, but in more seasonal locations (like Southern California) blooming is most prolific in spring and fall.

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Bougainvilleas are grown primarily for their amazing and brilliantly colored bracts. The flowers of this plant are nearly all white or cream colored and insignificant, but each flower is surrounded by several sets of bracts of a wide range of colorful colors. The colors range from a dark purple, all shades of pinks and reds, into oranges and yellows to white. The leaves of some hybrids are also variegated.

Bougainvillea is a perennial vine that can grow to 30 feet, depending on the variety in their warm climates. However, here in the Madison area you will need to grow them inside during fall and winter into early spring, and do not expect them to get as large. They do great outside during the warm summer months, brightening patios and decks. It needs full sun, is root hardy and will regrow in spring. Its bracts "bloom" May-December on new wood so heavy pruning, lack of water and fertilizer low in nitrogen encourage blooming.

You can buy bougainvillea in different colors at


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