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Bougainvillea: A potential ornamental plant

By Gulzar Akhtar (Institute of Horticultural Sciences, UAF)

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd) belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae, which is composed of 30 genera and 300 species but in Pakistan only 5 genera and 11 species are present.

It is native to South America (Brazil) and south of southern Argentina.

It was first discovered in 1768 by Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea (a mathematician and an admiral in the French navy) during his journey to Pacific Ocean and first time published as ‘Buginvillæa’ in 1789 by A.L. de Jussieu in Genera Plantarum.

Then its spelling was corrected as Bougainvillea’ in the Index Kewensis in the 1930s.

It was first introduced in the Europe and traded to the Australia and other countries.

Kew Gardens play very important role in distributing it in the world.It has plenty of beautiful flowers with the necessary characters.Bougainvillea: A potential ornamental plant

As it can tolerate hot dry condition and can be used to grow under drought conditions but full sunshine and regular watering is needed for bountifully flowers. Constant wet soil is not good for it.

It work well in rich and acidic soils with proper pH, which should not be more than 6 other wise it can hinder in nutrient uptake especially Iron. Its ability of salt tolerant makes it able to grow and increase esthetic value of coastal regions.

 Baugainvillea has cluster of flowers at the terminal of thorning branches of plants. Flowers are of various colored, small tubular, inflated inside throughout its length and remain in the form of group of three.

These groups form cluster at the terminal parts of the branches of plant. Flowers are quickly and abundantly produced in moderate temperature with shorter day length and high light.

Flowering is enhanced by pruning and pinching of older branches as new flowers produces on the fresh growth.

Pruning is also necessary to remove dead, older, diseased branches and to give desired shape to the plant.

High pruning is recommended when you want new flushed or to move the plants indoor in winter, while light pruning for giving proper shape to the plants.

Plant growth and flowering also supported by slightly moist and fertile soil.

The usefulness of bougainvillea is well-known as it is extremely flashy, floriferous, disease resistant and hardy ornamental plant.

It is a straggling shrub and it will be true to say that our parks, roads, buildings, houses will not be beautiful like today without legendary flowers of bougainvillea.

Dwarf cultivars of bougainvillea have been developed which can be used in difficult to manage areas.

Single stem bougainvillea tree is very suitable for growing over arbors, into espaliers, onto walls, or to cascade down a slope.

These can be used in hanging baskets, hanging pots and hanging planters and placed around porch, under eves and along the fence.

Bougainvillea is also valuable for Bonsai enthusiasts as it can be used for bonsai techniques due to its ease training and radiant flowering in the spring.

These are used along the roads in the industrial cities for biomonitoring of air pollution because of biochemical defense agents, o-dihydrophenols, anthrocyanin, lignin and proline.

It also has the Antiviral protein and anti-inflammatory activities as leaves extract of Bougainvillea spectabilis has inhibitory effect against tomato spotted wilt tospovirus on capsicum annum and reduces okra yellow vein mosaic virus infection.

Propagation of bougainvillea can be done by cutting, grafting and seed. For cutting soft terminal wood and mature intermediate wood can be used, which should be almost 1/8 inch thick with 4-5 nodes. Leaf bud cuttings can be used for propagation under limiting source availability.

In this case only one bud with leaf and wood is used. Grafting can also be used for propagation of cultivars, which are hard to root or have insufficient chlorophyll in their leaves for photosynthesis.

Seed may be used for propagation without any treatment to break dormancy. Plant tissue culture technique can be used for producing healthy disease free plants of bougainvillea round the year under aseptic conditions.
Courtesy: Pakissan Team