Sunday, October 24, 2010


Bouganvillea is a wonderful plant. However if it is planted carelessly like here by people's doors, it can scar you for life....literally.  These two plants were here when I moved onto this property 3 years ago.  Anyone who works with this plant knows how thorny it is and how it can really scratch you up.  It also has a natural spreading habit.  I do like how these plants frame this stucco building....and if there is one thing that makes stucco stand out, it's bouganvillea.  For that reason, I do not want to remove these dangerous bushes.  For the first year, I cut them down to the ground, but they came back stronger, bushier, and thornier than ever.  There are blood stains to prove it.  During times of pruning, it is not uncommon for passerbys to hear me cursing under my breath at the idiot who planted these on the property....everytime you prune a branch off...several more thornier ones grow what do you do to combat the issue?......shape with wire!

Rule 1....wear gloves.  You'll still get scratched and stuck but you'll minimize the bodily damage.  The picture above is bouganvillea restrained with wire.  Begin by wiring close branches together and then onto the major branches.  Wire more with twisty ties so that in case one branch lets go because of a wind storm etc, you'll have others there to prevent the branches from flying out and lashing their victims. I learned that lesson the hard way.  These plants are also anchored to the building at three levels....low, medium, and high. There is an actual anchor screwed into the building that will hold these plants in place.  That was probably the trickiest for me, but once you have the main branches anchored, the rest will all easily tie together and create a beautiful green column that won't poke anyone's eyes out.  This procedure also works with bamboo or any type of bushy plant.  The rule of thumb with bouganvillea is to plant it away from walkways or where people pass by because of the nasty thorns on the branches.  It can be dangerous so have people spot you when working at the higher levels.  When shaped or structured, bouganvillea will make a striking addition to your garden.....Here are some pointers on growing this plant.....sun, sun, sun if you want those beautiful leaves so plant in FULL sun.  It's best if they are planted near a ramada style building or against strong wiring.  Once established, this plant will rarely need watering. In fact, I don't water this plant at all.  Here is a fascinating regional fact.  In Tucson, this plant will, normally, lose its' leaves during winter while in Phoenix, this plant thrives and blooms all year round.  This heat loving plant can be seen everywhere along the interstate of Phoenix and in the gardens around this hot city.  Phoenix is hell and plants have to be tough to live there.  I may not be a fan of this city but I am jealous about two things that grow very well there .....bouganvillea and banana plants.  Banana plants here have to be protected from the frost and WIND.  However, back to my point....if you are moving to Phoenix or live there, I would highly recommend bouganvillea somewhere around your house away from is definitely a xeric plant once established.  Until next time, Happy Gardening!!


  1. Nice shaping technique for Bouganvillea! My neighbors have Bouganvillea, but I didn't plant any because of the thorns and how much trimming it needs. It does look beautiful against stucco.

  2. I guess I should be happy that my Bouganvillea did not like it here. It got burned. They are beautiful though and your wire technique sounds like it works great but is hard on your hands and arms.


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