Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld



Bougainvillea species and cultivars

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Brilliant colour 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.

As one of the premier flowering plants for hot climates, Bougainvillea has previously been discussed in more detail in Get Results Gardening and will be again in the future. The publication is a newsletter-style, email publication for Australians, particularly SE Qld. Whether you're a new gardener or more experienced, there will be interesting and useful information for you in Get Results Gardening. To learn more, including how to get a free trial for yourself, go to


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 substantially 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. Long thorny canes reaching over the fence present a hazard for pedestrians or neighbours, so you must commit to regular pruning if you decide to use bougainvillea as a hedge or even just grow it close to the boundary.

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.

Some Common Varieties in Queensland

Identification of these established landscape specimens is somewhat tentative given the multitude quite similar bougainvillea cultivars in existence. However, there are a limited number routinely available on the market in Australia or that were widely planted in the past.

Over time, information and pictures of these regularly-encountered varieties will be added below to aid with your own identification efforts and to provide ideas about how they might be used in your own landscape.

Old Purples

'Magnifica' (or 'Magnifica Trailii') is the most common old type and it is assumed that most of the big specimens seen in older gardens are this type. This is also the variety used to cover the arbour at Southbank Parklands in Brisbane. It flowers predominantly in summer. There is also a variegated version. Older literature also refers to an a 'Magnifica Improved'. Another older purple called 'Sanderiana' was also sold. It is said to be more compact.

Bougainvillea Bougainvillea
landscaping with bougainvillea landscaping with bougainvillea landscaping with bougainvillea
landscaping with bougainvillea landscaping with bougainvillea landscaping with bougainvillea

Unusual growth habit for a bougainvillea with strong 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 "Smarty Pants" or "Smartie Pants" and also known as 'Pink Pixie', 'Pixie Pink', 'Hawaiian Torch' or 'Torch Glow' in various countries.
Bougainvillea Smartipants Bougainvillea Smartipants Bougainvillea Smartipants
Bougainvillea Smartipant Bougainvillea Smartipant Bougainvillea Smartipant
Bougainvillea Smartipant Bougainvillea Smartipant Bougainvillea Smartipant

'Raspberry Ice'
Locally, the best-known and widely-grown variegated variety. Leaves have cream and green variegation and flowers have raspberry-red bracts.
A variegated bougainvillea (probably 'Raspberry Ice') spilling over a brick wall

Known in USA as 'Mary Palmer'. Easily recognised by separate pink and white inflorescences borne by the same plant. From a distance, 'Snowcap' looks like two different varieties growing together, but on closer inspection you'll find a mixture of pink and white on a single stem, even a single bract. There is a rarer form of this called 'Vickie' (AKA 'Vicky', 'Vicki', 'Thimma' and 'Harlequin') that also has a gold splash in the centre of the leaves.
Bougainvillea Snowcap
Bougainvillea 'Vickie'.

'Klong Fire'
Bougainvillea Klong Fire
'Klong Fire'

Nonyo PBR
Bougainvillea Nonyo
'Nonyo' PBR

Bilas PBR
Bougainvillea Bilas Bougainvillea Bilas Bougainvillea Bilas
Bougainvillea Bilas Bougainvillea Bilas
Bougainvillea Bilas PBR

Pedro PBR
Bougainvillea Pedro Bougainvillea Pedro
'Pedro' PBR

bougainvillea_vera_blakeman bougainvillea_vera_blakeman bougainvillea_vera_blakeman
'Vera Blakeman'

Other examples of landscaping with bougainvilleas:

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.

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

landscaping with bougainvillea  landscaping with bougainvillea  landscaping with bougainvillea
landscaping with bougainvillea  landscaping with bougainvillea  landscaping with bougainvillea
landscaping with bougainvillea

More Online Information

The Bougainvillea-covered Arbour at South Bank Parklands (Brisbane)
Rasberry Ice Part of the Higher Ground website, Texas USA. To help their Bougainvillea 'Raspberry Ice' survive the Texan winter, these gardeners dig it up every year!

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

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

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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