Bugambilia is native to South America.

How to Grow Bugambilia

by M.H. Dyer

Most commonly known as bougainvillea or paper flower, bugambilia (Bougainvillea spp.) is a showstopper with masses of intensely colored, papery blooms in shades of deep pink, red, orange and white. Suitable for growing year-round in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b through 11, bugambilia is grown as an annual in cool climates. Plant this well-behaved climber where it can scramble up a trellis, fence or mailbox, or grow bugambilia in a container or hanging basket. Bugambilia reaches a mature height of 15 to 30 feet, depending on the variety.

Plant bugambilia in well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0. Potted plants do well in a commercial potting soil containing pine bark. Bugambilia requires full sunlight.

Provide a trellis for bugambilia to climb or plant the vine near a fence or other support structure.

Water bugambilia once every month during the summer. Water deeply, wetting the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and then let the soil dry before watering again. Water potted plants whenever the top 1 inch of soil feels dry. Bugambilia is a drought-tolerant plant that doesn't perform well in moist, soggy soil.

Feed bugambilia every two weeks during the growing season, as the plant blooms as long as 10 months with regular fertilization. Use an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer mixed at a ratio of about 2 teaspoons in 1 gallon of water. Withhold fertilizer during the winter when the plant drops it leaves, The plant requires a dormant period.

Prune bugambilia after blooming ends in autumn or before new growth appears in early spring. Prune the plant to the desired size and shape and remove dead, damaged or unslightly growth. Bugambilia tolerates pruning well and can be shaped lightly any time during the growing season. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the sharp thorns.

Spray bugambilia with insecticidal soap spray if aphids bother the plant. Mix a commercial insecticidal soap concentrate at a ratio of 2 teaspoons of soap in 1 quart of water. Spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves thoroughly. Reapply as needed every four to seven days.

Items you will need

  • Commercial potting soil
  • Pot with drainage hole
  • Trellis
  • All-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer
  • Pruners
  • Gloves
  • Insecticidal soap spray


  • Don't plant bugambilia near walkways or areas where children play because the thorns may cause painful cuts and scratches.
  • Wear gloves when planting to protect yourself from soil-borne pathogens.
  • Bugambilia is a nonpoisonous plant. However, a minor rash or irritation may result when skin comes in direct contact with the plant.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

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