Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bougainvillea

I’m satisfied with the various areas I’ve created for growing vegetables and they seem to be producing reasonably well, so this year I’ve been thinking about different ways to beautify my garden.

One feature in the garden that lends itself well to being beautified is the pergola. So I decided to grow a bougainvillea vine over one half of it.
The plant I chose was a bright magenta variety that’s pretty common in NZ. I've seen these growing in various places in both public and private gardens and they’re great for adding a stunning display of colour in the summer. But they look their best when grown over some kind of structure like a fence, trellis or pergola.
As usual I like to show a BEFORE shot:

I planted the vine in a small triangle space between the pergola and the BBQ (October 2010). Then as it grew I started training it toward the back right post cutting off any lateral shoots to encourage a single stem to grow in that direction.

As it grew nearer to the post I allowed one of the laterals to grow so that it forked off in two directions. Then I just started winding it around the post in two different directions to try and create a plaited effect.

I’m reasonably happy with how it’s grown so far over it’s first full season. It’s reached the top and started flowering. I’ve discovered how easy they are to grow. In fact if you weren’t paying attention they'd quickly get out of control and grow every which way, so they need to be pruned regularly especially when training them to grow a certain way.

I have made a point of not winding the stems too tightly around the post as these will gradually thicken and therefore tighten as the plant matures. I'm pleased with the plaited effect so far but I’ve had to keep trimming any lateral shoots to maintain the effect, (it’s also a good idea for safety reasons as the Bougainvillea produces hundreds of sharp barbs – pretty lethal if you stand too close or brush up against it). I'll probably let the laterals go wild on the top of the pergola next season which I’m hoping will create a nice display of colour.

One thing I’ve learned about the Bougainvillea is that the bright magenta part of the plant is not actually the petal of the flower. The petals are white as can be seen in the above photo.

I'll be sure to add a few pics later to show the final effect.


Update: photos taken 28 December 2012

It makes a nice place to sit in the summer...


Update: photos taken 12-14 Dec 2013

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------photo taken Jan 2018
I love the dramatic splash of Magenta on the approach to the garden now that the Bougainvillea is properly established. It seems to thrive best in hot, dry conditions. It’s become a real focal point of the garden.


  1. It will look lovely when the whole pergola is covered & it's in flower.

  2. Thanks Tony, It'll be at least another 9 months or so before that happens as all it's flowers have finished. Interestingly, it's still putting out lateral shoots so it's not exactly dormant. These things really take some taming.