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Sunday, March 8, 2020

How to Care & Cultivate Variegated Bougainvillea

A little bit of introduction here.
I just realized that I had cultivated this begonia for 12 years from a small cutting in a pot to this nice bushy roof canopy like shrub. Sometimes, you will never know how they form and grow over the years and suddenly you find them.. 
Walla! A wonderful amazing plant to a tree within the 12 years time frame.

From a medium size pot to placing here it grew to a wonderful well formed shrub.
Unlike common bougainvillea - the green leaf types, the variegated ones have thin stem and often less mean-looking thorns compared to the former. I like these when they don't flower, the leaves have colors to add feature in the garden.

Currently, this is how it looks like in it's grand formation of it's glory, constantly blooming non-stop. The flowers are first appears in rose slowly turning to peach orange tones. Sort of like a hand-made paper flowers as the locals interesting call them "Bunga Kertas" meaning Paper Flowers.

These are my Tips and Secrets on How I Care for my Variegated Bougainvillea:


If you are in the tropical region and if your weather is fine and good, I encourage you to grow this on ground, placing them in a permanent spot. If you have a temperate climate then the best thing to do is to plant it in a big deep root pot where you can bring them indoors during winter.

Bougainvillea requires deep rooting space and its best to plant on ground. Otherwise a big deep pot will do but you will be discounting on the fabulous cascading floral that come only exclusively when they are planted on ground.

Also, Do not place a tray under the pot for water catchment. Bougainvillea hates wet feet and may face root rot and the whole plant may die. Keep this plant more on a drier side. It is better to water it when necessary rather than over watering it. Once the plant had grown bigger and stable - watering is not an issue especially if it grown on ground.


At the earlier stage, focus the plant on growth.
That means pruning all the side branches and pinching off the flowers are necessary for it to grow taller and well formed. Do not prune the main branch rather prune off all the side shoots that appear from bottom. This will force the plant to grow upward.

Pruning the bottom part and make the appearance where it is just one big thick juicy stalk. This is very important. The plant will eventually will grow top heavy and form like an umbrella kind of shape where it will burst into flowers. It may take years but it is so worth it.

Use fertilizer that specialize for plant growth during this time rather than flowering. It will flower time to time but it won't be showy. Another factor is that this one (especially the variegated types) are slow growers compared to the all green leaf types. They are vigorous growers.

Once the plant had established. There is nothing must to do except daily sweep off the fallen flowers in the morning. They are just fabulous in giving that burst of life in the garden. I had found that they explode with more blooms after a drought season. Soon after a few days of rain - the flowers blooms ever more. And so - watering is not much needed unless the leaves started to fall off.

Even then, I had noticed certain breed where you allow every leaves to fall out and when watered deep and heavy the flowers show up first making that bonsai like appearance of only stem and flowers only plant.


This is very important. Bougainvillea is a sun loving plant. If you have open sunny area - this is the best plant to grow and I will never recommend you to grow these in shaded area unless you are contented with the variegated foliage from this plant - even then, the colors of the leaves in shade will appear more green than colors (another downside)

Also, they will only bloom when expose to full sun. It won't bloom in indirect light areas.


Bougainvilleas do not produce fruit or seeds and therefore the best optimum way to propagate them is to use cutting. Use a clean sterile cutter and trim about 1 feet of stem removing off the bottom portion of leaves and use rooting hormone before planting it into a potting mix. Place it in a shade area with minimum watering and slowly introduce it to sunny area once new growth is visible.

Edible Flowers:

Though this flower is abundant here in my region, many do not venture into consuming this flowers as food. However I believe some people do fancy eating them. There are many information concerning how to use this flower for culinary purpose especially frying the flower with a batter or using as tea or vinegar drink.

If you had eaten this flower and enjoyed it - do feel free to share your experience.

I saw this around my neighborhood where this variegated bougainvillea is fully white. Such amazing cascading shrub that welcomes the home owner. I'm pretty sure that this was planned years ago.
Seeing this - it reminds me that you can just have one plant and it just gives that wow factor.

Do share your thoughts and experiences you have with bougainvilleas.
Any queries and questions are welcome.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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