Information & resources about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld



Bougainvillea species and cultivars

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Brilliant clolour displays over a long season, toughness and and heat tolerance make Bougainvillea ideal for sunny warm-climate gardens.

There are few rivals to this group of plants for profusion of flower colour in a hot climate. With the wide range of colours available, there's lots of potential for variety just with bougainvilleas alone. By approriate choice of colour, bougainvillea could be incorporated in a variety of garden designs.

While the vivid purples, golds and hot pinks of bougainvillea are synonymous with tropical gardens, the softer pastels and whites could readily be incorporated into a more cottage-style garden in hot climates as substitutes for temperate species. For a white garden in the tropics, choose a white-flowered bougainvillea.

With appropriate cultivar selection and management techniques, Bougainvillea can also be grown in a variety of ways including as container specimens, hedges, standards and, of course, as climbers.

Thorns can be a problem, though, so take care with placement and maintenance. Regular pruning will tame their growth.


Bougainvillea landmark to go

An much-loved bougainvillea on Redbank Plains Road, Ipswich is to be removed as part of a road upgrade. However, Ipswich City Council will be taking cuttings. Plants will be made available to the public at future mobile nursery events, allowing the local landmark to establish a new generation in neighborhood gardens. Source: Plant a piece of Ipswich's iconic bougainvillea (October 2016)

Older news at bottom of page.

Where to buy Bougainvillea in Qld


If you live in any of the tropical or subtropical regions of Qld, you're likely to find a reasonable selection at local garden centres, although you may have to take pot luck with respect to the flower colours or varieties they have in stock.

Bougainvillea nurseries, breeders and distributors servicing the retail market in Qld (including online/mail order) are are invited to advertise on this page. Learn more here: Advertising information.

More Information

Dwarf bougainvilleas

A number of dwarf cultivars of Bougainvillea suitable for containers or small gardens are now on the market, which means that most Queenslanders will be able to find a spot for a Bougainvillea or twenty.

Dwarf forms can also be mass-planted as a groundcover in a sunny location. cut back from time to time with hedge-trimmer to keep dense. With suitable cultivar selection and training, bougainvilleas can also be grown as hedges, as shrubs or standards as well as trained up fences, trellis or pergolas. If you have a very large garden or acerage, you may consider growing one of the more robust varieties up a large tree.

Dwarf bougainvilleas are more naturally restrained in their growth characteristics. They can still be prickly but usually the thorns aren't as savage and if kept neatly pruned shouldn't be a major deterrent to planting them.

There are now many varieties of dwarf bougainvillea on the market. The Bambino® series is very popular (More information at their consumer website but there are other dwarf types.

'Temple Fire' is an old one and still one of the smallest and shrubbiest. Varieties like 'Purple Cascade' or 'Little Caroline' have a low growth habit suitable for planting at the edges of the retaining walls or containers where a draping effect is drape down, or in.

Note that "dwarf" is a relative term and most will still spread/climb quite sunstantially if pruning is totally neglected.

Bougainvilleas as hedges

Bougainvillea are among the most prolific flowering plants for warm climates and can be trained in a variety of ways including hedges.

Like almost any flowering species, constant pruning to a rigid geometrical shape (the so-called formal hedge) will tend to remove developing flowers. If a softer shape is acceptable, bougainvilleas would be suitable for a very colourful and drought-tolerant hedge with a moderate amount of maintenance.

The key to curbing the bouginvilleas tendency to climb and maintain a bushy form is regular light clipping in between flushes of flower.

It will also help to chose a less vigorous and more shrubby variety than the stereotypical climber.

Is there a thornless Bougainvillea?

As far as I can determine, there is no Bougainvillea which is 100% thornless. Occasionally one reads of a thornless variety, only to read elsewhere that it does produce some thorns, or reduced thorns.

B. arborea, a species introduced into the US trade in the 1990s, is possibly the closest thing to a thornless Bougainvillea. While commonly referred to as such, even it can produce thorns on juvenille growth, apparently (see notes in the Virtual Tour of the AOS Garden). This species is also interesting as it's said to have a more tree-like habit of growth than most Bougainvilleas, plus fragrant flowers. Unfortunately, I don't know of any nurseries selling this plant in Australia as yet (if you do, please get in touch!).

[Update: In pictures of advanced specimens I've seen recently, B. arborea looks rather like a crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) in flower. If it has a longer flowering season, and/or doesn't sucker like crepe mrytle, it might be a superior substitute.]

Meanwhile, dwarf varieties readily available on the market in Qld tend to have very small thorns. With a little common sense, they can be used in a variety of landscaping applications.

More Online Information

The Bougainvillea-covered Arbour at South Bank Parklands (Brisbane)
The following links are for general information and further research - some species or cultivars referred to in international publications may be unavailable in Australia
Bougainvillea A comprehensive factsheet from University of Hawaii at Manoa (PDF)
Bougainvillea information by Gordon Braswell at the Houston & Gulf Coast Gardening website (USA)
Tips on Bougainvillea Culture The Garden Club of Honolulu
Bougainvillea spp. University of Florida (PDF)
Bougainvilleas Osceola County Extension Service, University of Florida
Bougainvillea - A Robust and Spectacular Climbing Vine Hendry County Extension Service, Univ Florida
Blooming Bougainvillea University of Florida (PDF)
Bougainvilleas University of Florida (PDF)
Bougainvillea LSU AgCenter, Louisiana USA
Bougainvillea glabra University of Arizona, USA
Helpful Hints for Growing Bougainvilleas by Gary Marmillion. Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, USA
Growing Bougainvilleas Texas A&M University, USA
Cultural concepts for Bougainvilleas in Florida Reproduction of a 1974 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Bougainvilleas add a touch of the tropics Office of Agricultural Communications, Mississippi State University, USA (notes on growing these plants in cooler climates)
Vibrant Vines Provide Landscape Color Arid-Southwestern Gardening Information, University of Arizona
Bougainvillea Bougainvillea "A love blog about bougainvillea"
Bougainvillea as grown at Hearst Castle, California
Bougainvillea (Paper Flower) Pictures of Bougainvillea being cultivated in a variety of ways in Thailand and Vietnam (at
Sadly, not my balcony ... See how Bougainvillea is used to spectacular effect in Italy, at The Balcony Garden blog
Tropicals - Bougainvillea University of Arkansas
Bougainvillea glabra Ecocrop database, FAO

Popular Varieties [Under Construction]

Although there are dozens (if not hundreds) of varieties in exisitence, there are a limited number routinely available on the market in Australia. Over time, information and pictures of the most regularly-encountered varieties willbe collected here.

Unusual growth habit for a bougainvillea withtrong upright canes with closely packed leaves that can be readily maintained as a shrub or even a formal hedge. Intense pink flowers. Sometimes listed as "Smartie Pants" or "Smartie Pants" and known overseas as 'Pink Pixie', 'Hawaiian Torch' or 'Torch Glow'.
Bougainvillea Smartipants Bougainvillea Smartipants Bougainvillea Smartipants
Bougainvillea 'Smartipants' with other shrubs form a screen. Brisbane, January 2014
Bougainvillea Smartipants Bougainvillea Smartipants
Bougainvillea 'Smartipants'. The lower part of the plant demonstrates the response to regular pruning, while the upper portion illustrates the unpruned growth habit. Brisbane, April, 2016

'Rasberry Ice'
The best-known variegated variety grown locally. Rasberry-red bracts.
Rasberry Ice Part of the Higher Ground website, Texas USA. To help their Bougainvillea 'Rasberry Ice' survive the Texan winter, these gardeners dig it up every year!
A variegated bougainvillea (probably 'Rasberry Ice') spilling over a brick wall

Known in USA as 'Mary Palmer'. Easily recognised by separate pink and white inflorescences borne by the same plants. From a distance, 'Snowcap' looks like two different varieties growing together.
Bougainvillea Snowcap
Bougainvillea 'Snowcap'. Coopers Plains, April 2014

'Klong Fire'
Bougainvillea Klong Fire
'Klong Fire'

Nonyo PBR
Bougainvillea Nonyo
'Nonyo' PBR

Pedro PBR
Bougainvillea Pedro  Bougainvillea Pedro
'Pedro' PBR

bougainvillea_vera_blakeman bougainvillea_vera_blakeman
'Vera Blakeman'

Bougainvillea 'Barbara Karst' at the Water When Dry blog, Arizona
Bougainvillea glabra 'Singapore White' Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Florida

Bouganvilleas in the landscape

Bouganvillea cultivars are not uniform in growth
Bouganvillea do not flower well in shade, but the tree cover here is clearly not dense enough to affect flowering adversely. The dominant cultivars here appear to be Bambino® NonyaPBR (mauve) and PedroPBR (orange). QEII hospital, Brisbane, May 2014. A few pink, purple and white blossoms suggest that this planting originally contained a greater range of colours than the lavender and orange that now dominate and illustrates how cultivars can differ in vigour.

bougainvillea_landscape  bougainvillea_landscape

Old Bouganvillea trained into treelike form Old Bouganvillea trained into treelike form
Superficially this looks like 'Snowcap', but closer inspection suggests it may be 'Klong Fire' (aka 'Mahara'), with some branches sported to a paler coloured inflorescence similar to Limberlost Beauty (aka 'Cherry Blossoms'). Sunnybank, March 2014. This plant is likely about 40 years old.

Bouganvillea Bouganvillea Different inflorescences from the above plant

Some old, vigorous varieties are capable of climbing tall trees

Planted in the wrong place or not properly controlled by training or pruning, vigorous types can be a problem. Here, long thorny canes reaching over the fence present a hazard for pedestrians.

Bougainvillea Sunvillea Rose Bougainvillea Sunvillea Cream Bougainvillea Sunvillea Pink
Bougainvillea Sunvillea® Rose, Cream and Pink varieties. Images courtesy of Suntory® Flowers

Propagation and production

Bougainvillea Rooting Database, University of California, Davis
Some factors affecting flowering and propagation of Bougainvillea glabra 'Sander' Reproduction of a 1963 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Some factors affecting flowering and propagation of Bougainvillea glabra 'Sander' Reproduction of a 1963 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Growth and flowering of Bougainvillea glabra 'Sander' as affected by photoperiod and levels of nitrogen and potassium Reproduction of a1962 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Effect of plant growth regulators on growth of 'Barbara Karst' Bougainvillea Reproduction of a 1996 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)

Unusual species
Pacific flora database of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, USA. Select Bougainvillea arborea from the "Choose A Plant" menu
Virtual Tour of the AOS Garden \ Formal Lawn American Orchid Society, Florida. (Includes photo and notes on B. arborea)
Monte Negro Bougainvillea spinosa. Flora y Vegetacion de la Patagonia, Argentina
Nyctaginaceae Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Argentina. Students of horticulture who don't speak Spanish may nevertheless derive some useful information from this document (PDF)
Bougainvillea spicata University of Arizona Campus Arboretum

Possible Misspellings: Boganvillea, Bouganvillea, Boganvillia, Bouganvillia, Boganvilla. In older texts it may be spelled Bougainvillaea.
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