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my bougainvillea adventures, continued

Last spring, when I started a blog for my garden, I wrote about my bougainvillea. I bought a topiary-shaped plant which was much different than all the usual bougainvilleas I see around here. At the time, I didn’t know a marigold from a vine, so everything and anything that had color was worth buying.

After 2 glorious weeks as the star of our back deck, my beautiful topiary struggled. I quickly discovered (as I wrote in an earlier post) the problem of bringing home plants that have been nursed in careful conditions, only to toss them to a new gardener’s whimsy. After fertilizing it some, it shot out new blooms but last summer just did it in. I’m not sure if it was the black plastic pot that sat every day in full sun through our droughty summer. Perhaps that baked its roots. It got enough water, a big dose every time it started to feel dry. But I was worried about overwatering it so perhaps I didn’t water it enough. It seems like anything in containers doesn’t stand a chance in August unless watered every day.

I have not the heart to throw this plant away. I pruned it down and repotted it, and it is sitting on my porch. I believe in resurrection so I’m giving it a chance. But at the moment there’s no sign of life.

I decided to try again with a new bougainvillea, this time a small hanging plant. All my friends love it, this big splash that greets them as soon as they arrive. But now I’m just not sure about bougainvilleas. They beckon from all the nurseries right now–a spring plant-star with their bright shower of color all over every plant. Perhaps it’s that they’re everywhere and maybe I don’t like obvious. But also one good windy day sends their pink bracts all over the yard, which is cool at first but then the plant looks all scrawny and colorless until it’s willing to grow again. Kind of like a scratchy rose bush without any blooms.

So there’s where me and bougainvillea stand right now. One dead, one alive but completely colorless, and downgraded from its star position.

update:: september 18, 2007. I came back this summer to find bougainvillea #2 dead. Dead dead. A friend of mine watered my plants nearly every day, but I forgot to put the bougainvillea out with the other containers so I think it was neglected. We got tons of rain, too, which should have kept it somewhat going. The previous bougainvillea rotted in its pot, so I replaced it with some nice spanish lavender, which is currently not looking so hot–it’s really really fussy about all the rain we got this summer. (Lavender likes to be dry.)