The world of flowering plants has a lot to offer, for example flowers that can be used for a wide variety of design tasks and are even available in geometric shapes: the bougainvillea, which you are bound to be curious about after reading this article.

The wondrous triplet – a character picture

The bougainvillea is not called the miracle flower for nothing, the best reason for this name is the unbelievable abundance of flowers with which a well-kept bougainvillea surprises us. One flower sits next to the other, green foliage can hardly be spotted anymore … But the flowers themselves are also pleasingly whimsical. Up close, they always reveal an unusual shape, whether heart-shaped leaves fold into a delicate umbrella of flowers, or three exquisitely neat triangles form into a three-pointed star. The flowers are very common in this form, which is why the bougainvillea is also called triple flower.

The bougainvillea plant genus got its scientific name from a Frenchman, namely the first Frenchman to sail around the world. Louis Antoine de Bougainville set sail from Brest in 1766 and on his voyage he discovered, in addition to plants, a number of other novelties that were named after him. These include a Pacific island, a province of Papua New Guinea and a strait, for example. Accordingly, the beautiful plants are also pronounced in French, in unscientific phonetic transcription something like “Buugäängwilea”.

Bougainvillea flowers

The actual flowers of the bougainvillea are tiny and white. What really catches our eye, and also meant to tempt (albeit to tempt insects) are the brightly colored flaunting bracts that grow around the tiny flowers. Depending on the variety, the bougainvilleas develop these bracts in orange and crimson, pink and red, white, yellow and blue and over several weeks of the summer season, with the dwarf forms even over an even longer period. In addition, some miracle flowers are still wonderfully suited to overgrow not very decorative fences and walls. They can do this with much more attractive results than knotweed, which is so often used as “architectural comfort”.

Other types of bougainvillea “only” grow as pretty shrubs or mini trees. What they all have in common, however, is the lush bloom that you can always hope for when your bougainvillea feels well cared for. Unfortunately, this good care is not that simple in our latitudes.

The care

The triplet belongs to the magic flower family. Lovers of brightly colored flowers, these plants have evolved across the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. The species of the genus Bougainvillea are native to South America. The breeds like to thrive in all regions with a similar climate, from the subtropical areas to the southern Mediterranean countries, but Germany is climatically quite a bit away from them.

That’s why you can only grow the triplet here in a bucket. There she is sometimes quite difficult. Without any experience and comprehensive basic knowledge of indoor plant care, you will probably not have an easy time with a bougainvillea.

Taking care of the bougainvillea could not be easy if you have neither a garden nor a balcony, because the first basic need of this tropical plant is light, lots of light. You can be sure that the triplet will only show you its charming blooms when it gets really lots of light during its peak growing season. In other words: in the summer she urgently needs at least part of the day direct sunlight, warming radiation from the sun, which must not be filtered through a window. Only the light intensity of the direct sun can stimulate the bougainvillea to bloom. Behind a (probably still well insulated) window pane, the incidence of light is much less intense.

In terms of substrate, the miracle flower is not quite as demanding. Regular potting soil or a mixture of compost and garden soil are fine. However, she would like enough space in the bucket. Every spring it is therefore the turn of a larger pot if a bougainvillea is growing well. It always wants to be repotted when the root ball almost completely fills the planter. In addition, the inner vessel in the bucket should definitely have a drainage hole and be placed on a drainage layer of gravel or potsherds in the bucket. You should definitely check occasionally whether the triplet is full of water or whether the drainage hole in the planter is blocked. Either way would cause the bougainvillea to have its roots in the water, and it doesn’t like that at all.

The triplet does not like drought either. It should therefore be poured very evenly so that the root ball always remains a little moist. The right rhythm usually sets in if you always water when the top layer of soil in the bucket has just dried slightly.

A triplet that feels good will grow vigorously, and for that it needs nutrients. For this reason, it is fertilized every four weeks from the appearance of the first shoots in spring. From the beginning of the flowering period, the miracle flower usually needs fertilizer every two weeks, every other time with a bloom fertilizer.

The variety of bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea genus includes 18 different species, of which only two can be cultivated as ornamental plants in new regions. However, there are several varieties of each of these two types. A number of hybrids have now been bred involving Bougainvillea glabra and/or Bougainvillea spectabilis as mother plants. The selection of bougainvilleas leaves nothing to be desired.

These species are the Bougainvillea glabra and the Bougainvillea spectabilis, the hybrids are named differently, but can be recognized by an “x” in the botanical name. Among these triplets are plants with different flower colors, with double and single flowers, bougainvilleas growing as shrubs or small trees and bougainvilleas that sometimes climb strongly.

The varieties of Bougainvillea glabra grow quite vigorously and can climb with help. Its intense red flowers appear from late summer to autumn at a younger plant age than the other species. Cultivated forms of this species can surprise, such as the Bougainvillea glabra ‘Harrisii’ with cream-colored stripes through the leaves or the Bougainvillea glabra ‘Sanderiana Variegata’ with light toned leaf margins. Or they convince with particularly exotic colors, such as the Bougainvillea glabra “Alexandra” with a bright purple violet.

The cross Bougainvillea X ​​buttiana is a well-known hybrid that served and still serves as a breeding basis for many other Bougainvillea hybrids. The miracle flowers that result from it grow a little less quickly, so they can be kept very well as shrubs in tub culture. There are also optically outstanding varieties from this cross: “Mrs. Butt” or “Crimson Lake” blooms dark crimson, “Brilliant” orange-red with a tinge of copper and “Temple Fire” unfolds brick-red bracts that become increasingly intense in color over time.

Tip: There are types of magic flowers that climb walls or trellises and others that can be grown as shrubs or small trees.

Overwinter triplet flowers properly

Below is a summary of care in winter. See the Bougainvillea Overwintering post for full details .

Our summer temperatures are often too low for the bougainvilleas. With us, they cannot survive the winter “in full consciousness”. They are therefore sent into hibernation. To do this, they are placed in a place that is as light as possible and not so warm, which forces them to shut down their metabolism.

Shortly before the move to the winter quarters, the water supply is already reduced. During the winter break you would only have to make sure that the pot ball does not dry out completely. The drier you keep the bougainvillea in the dormant period, the more eagerly it will try to flower next year. In order to stimulate exactly such behavior, the triplet does not get any additional nutrients as fertilizer from October to February. If your plant loses its leaves at some point during the winter, that is not a cause for concern (however, if that happens in the summer, there is something wrong with the culture at all).

The temperature in the winter quarters can be anywhere between 3 and 10 degrees. Rooms with such a temperature and sufficient brightness are e.g. B. Basement with window, unheated stairwells with skylight or of course the conservatories or greenhouses specially equipped as a winter plant house. If you cannot offer your bougainvillea a pleasant winter domicile, it is advisable to move it to friends who know about plants or to a bougainvillea dealer, who usually also offers a winter storage service.

Pruning the Bougainvilleas

A bougainvillea forms its flowers at the ends of the shoots. The longer these shoots become, the more sparse the flower appears. For the right cut, it must also be taken into account that the triplet flowers grow quite quickly and bloom several times in a row in one summer.

Both growth characteristics together determine the timetable for pruning: If you prune your bougainvillea at the shoot ends when and where the first blossom pile has just dried up, you encourage further branching and the formation of new flowers. You should roughly halve the new shoot, the one with the light green bark. The bougainvillea will now attach new side branches to these shoot stubs and allow new flowers to sprout from them after about a month. Such a cut is necessary for the free-growing triplet flower about every four weeks.

Once your bougainvillea has formed into a spherical crown, you should prune all shoots that protrude beyond the spherical shape about every four weeks. In this way they stimulate such a topiary in the correct way to branch and form new flowers.

Young plants in particular should be pruned regularly so that they develop a dense and well-branched growth habit. Since every cut means stress for the plant, it always gets a little fertilizer afterwards to strengthen it. For example, if your bougainvillea B. feels very comfortable in her bright flower window, she will grow quite luxuriantly. If you already suspect that it will soon be too big for your pitch, you can cut it back more vigorously in the spring. You can cut off almost half of the plant mass that was newly formed last year.

Note: Since the flowers appear at the ends of the shoots, the bougainvillea is regularly trimmed from the outside. Each fresh shoot should be cut in half. You should also remove the old blossoms from your miracle flower after it has withered. Both pruning measures promote further branching and a rich flowering set several times in the season.


Bougainvilleas can be self-propagated from top cuttings that are pruned in good time in spring. They should be about 20 centimeters long and cut from a young shoot. The lower cut surface should be coated with a rooting hormone before placing the cuttings in pots of potting soil. They then move under a transparent plastic hood or in a small greenhouse to a bright place where ideally there is an even temperature of 24 degrees. Now it’s time to keep it evenly moist and wait. After a good two months, roots should have formed. If they are strong enough, you can put the young plants in buckets.

Buy bougainvilleas

The best time to buy bougainvilleas is April and May, when the supply in stores is at its greatest. Some triplet flowers are then usually offered in the large garden centers. There may also be a nursery near where you live that specializes in bougainvillea and other exotic plants.

Of course, the internet also offers a choice. The company Botanic International from 86863 Langenneufnach sells impressively large Bougainvillea glabra in several colors and shapes and some of them several decades old via (very large and old specimens can of course also impress with their price). You can find around a dozen Bougainvillea glabra and spectabilis at the company flora toskana from Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Peter Maier from 89278 Nersingen OT Strass, to order at

Bougainvilleas are very interesting flowering plants for all gardeners who like to play with colors and like to cultivate their plants in tubs in order to really show them off on the terrace or balcony in summer. The bougainvilleas with their rich variety definitely provide enough variety. Only complete beginners in plant care should perhaps not choose a bougainvillea as their first plant, which may then present itself as a real “diva” in its claims.

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