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I don't think anybody will dispute that the bougainvillea is one of the prettiest plants that we have available to grow in this area. They tolerate our alkaline soils and are fairly easy to grow. The thing that most people don't realize about bougainvillea is that you have to be mean to it to make it bloom.

One of the best things to do is never put it in the ground because when you put it in the ground you lose control of its environment. The best thing to do is keep it in a pot. These are in a gallon pot and, as you can see it's blooming profusely. If you want to move it up into a larger five gallon you can. The important thing is to keep it in a pot to keep the growth down.

A lot of people say, "Well I have a bougainvillea but it never blooms." The way to really make them bloom is to stress them down. Neglect them almost to the point that they dry up and die, and then throw a little water on them and then they break out into blooms. So you can control them if you don't have them in the soil.

Another thing is bougainvillea is cold tender. In other words it can be frozen back to the ground. So what you do when fall comes around and the thing finishes blooming, and you know some cold is on the way is, if you have it in a container you can go ahead and move it into the garage. Then it will drop all it's leaves and look like death warmed over but it will come back out in the spring.

So keep it in a container and get any color that you want because there are many different colors for bougainvillea to choose from but definitely everyone should have one.

This is Jerry Parsons, Vegetable Specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Weekend Gardener.

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