STUNNERS IN SMALL PACK­AGES

DWARF BOUGAINVIL­LEAS HAVE ALL THE VI­BRANT COLOUR OF THEIR RAM­PANT COUSINS AND THEY LOVE SUM­MER’S HEAT

Life & Style Weekend - - GARDEN - GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­[email protected]­nat­by­ron.com.au

Sum­mer is on the way, and so it’s time to get some colour go­ing that will thrive in the heat. Dwarf bougainvil­leas are ide­ally suited to these con­di­tions, es­pe­cially the Bam­bino Bougs. Bred in Bris­bane, the first Bam­bino Bougs were re­leased in 1997 af­ter nearly 40 years of care­ful se­lec­tion and breed­ing. They are up there with the best in terms of colour­ful, hardy, low-main­te­nance plants. They are used in gar­den beds, as hedges, or even as a liv­ing fence be­cause their thorns, though smaller than those on the big va­ri­eties, are still sharp enough to de­ter in­trud­ers. There are more than 20 va­ri­eties avail­able. Some have var­ie­gated leaves, and some have bi-coloured flow­ers. All are nat­u­rally com­pact in growth, get­ting to a max­i­mum height of about 1.5-2m, but are eas­ily kept smaller than that with the oc­ca­sional trim. Of course, the ac­tual flow­ers on a bougainvil­lea are usu­ally white or cream, quite small and in­signif­i­cant. The flam­boy­ant show comes from the bracts, which are in fact mod­i­fied leaves. But we tend to be a bit sloppy with the ter­mi­nol­ogy when we talk about bougs. Siggi has strik­ing golden bracts, and Zuki has deep red blooms that con­trast beau­ti­fully with the var­ie­gated fo­liage. The new growth of­ten has touches of pink on the leaves which then fade to white as they age. Plant Bam­bino Bougs in well-drained soil in full sun. Don’t skimp on soil prepa­ra­tion if plant­ing them in the ground, and do use a pre­mium pot­ting mix if you are grow­ing them in pots. Don’t over­wa­ter, es­pe­cially in win­ter. If you’re grow­ing them in pots, let them dry out be­tween wa­ter­ings and make sure wa­ter doesn’t sit in the saucer. Prun­ing is easy. Just re­move the spent flower heads, and this will of­ten en­cour­age more blooms to form. Feed a cou­ple of times a year with a fer­tiliser that is high in potash to en­cour­age blooms. If plants are not flow­er­ing, it is prob­a­bly be­cause they are not get­ting enough potash, or not get­ting enough di­rect sun, or both.

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