Desert Gardening with Bougainvillea

When recollecting a favored tropical vacation destination, images of sandy beaches, swaying palm tress and brightly colored blooms of paradise come to mind. The bougainvillea creates the boldest visual impact, with its vines twisting and climbing to display a cascade of showy blossoms. This drought tolerant ornamental makes for an excellent tropical or desert garden plant.

These perennial vines are the answer for those who crave tropical scenery in arid environments. Grown in hardiness zones 7-10, these plants thrive best in the full sun of hot and dry climates, making them an ideal choice for a xeriscape. The plant is also tolerant to salt, making it the perfect candidate for gardens in coastal regions. The thorny wood stems bear heart-shaped leaves that may be solid green or variegated, and clusters of bracts in purple, orange, pink, burgundy or white. The plants are referred to as twining vines, indicating their growth pattern as that of winding their stems around nearby trellises and stakes for support.

In regions where daytime temperatures can soar over 100 degrees, desert gardening becomes a popular and environmentally friendly option. Also known as xeriscaping, this method of landscaping is designed with heat and drought tolerances in mind. Plants that are indigenous to the local climate are implemented into the desert garden plan. Techniques such as hydro zoning, drip irrigation and moisture retention in the soil are all employed to maximize water efficiency. Advantages of such desert gardening projects include lower water bills, reduced water waste, reduction in mowing and less garden maintenance. Less time spent working in the garden yields the pleasure of more time spent enjoying the scenic vista. Nature enthusiasts will revel in the prospect that these desert gardens offer habitats for native butterflies and birds.

The versatile bougainvillea plant may also be grown in containers. Balcony or porch railings are embellished with these blooms as they cascade from hanging baskets. Potted bougainvillea bonsai varieties provide an adorning option for the smaller space of an apartment terrace.

For those living in the cooler Zones 7 and 8, a boost of tropical bougainvillea color can still be infused into outdoor decor. In such environs, bougainvillea plants must be be grown in containers; their blooms offering a stunning seasonal display to embellish sun-drenched decks and patios. Bougainvillea plants must be brought indoors before the first frost and kept in a cool, lowly lit area, such as a basement, during the winter months.

For a comprehensive source of information regarding bougainvillea selection, planting and care of these glorious blooming vines, visit our main bougainvillea page. The bougainvillea experts of BGI are ready to help you transform your sunny spot into a welcoming, color-splashed desert garden paradise.