Variegated Bougainvillea Plant

Variegated Bougainvillea Guide

Bougainvilleas are native to tropical South and Central America, these garden beauties are rapid growers and are also commonly called paper flowers. Bougainvillea belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae with approximately 18 species and is drought-tolerant making this plant low-maintenance.

Variegated Bougainvillea Plant
Variegated Bougainvillea

A favorite of mine however is the variegated bougainvillea plant, this garden beauty is amazing. I came across this plant species many years ago and it was love at first sight. The variegated bougainvillea is a tropical beauty that will add that much-needed flavor to your garden and landscapes. I move around the country a lot and to my surprise, the more popular ones which are used are the non-variegated ones but the advantage with the variegated bougainvillea is that once the flower bloom ends you can still have a colorful garden because of the variegated leaves.

If you have a love for the variegated bougainvillea and would like to make this beauty a part of your garden and landscape giving that tropical look and feel then join me on this journey as we take a closer look at the variegated bougainvillea that is a showstopper which will light up your garden and landscape areas.

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Planting Location

One thing you would notice about bougainvilleas is their love for light so when installing look for an area that gets 6 hours of sunlight this amount of sunlight will keep your variegated bougainvilleas growing their best.

Soil Type

What I love about bougainvilleas is they are not fussy when it comes to soil type but seeing that these plants are drought-tolerant a soil that is well-drained is ideal, good garden soil or mixing in some compost with your native soil will have them growing their best.

Watering Methods

Though variegated bougainvilleas are drought-tolerant it is best to give them moderate water especially during the bloom period to keep them thriving.

Fertilizing Methods

What I found interesting about bougainvilleas is that though fertilizers are recommended for them these plants seem to bloom just well without them.  Many years ago I worked as a foreman on a 2-acre property which had lots of bougainvilleas growing as hedges that had so much flower bloom without fertilizers being applied to them also the guest house on a different property by the seem owner had lots of bougainvilleas growing as hedges even growing alongside the carport which we never fertilized but these plants produced lots of flowers.

I have a beautiful bougainvillea plant in my front yard which I never fertilize and every growing season this plant produces lots of beautiful purple flowers but if you still insist on fertilizing then a fertilizer such as bloom special makes a good choice.

Garden insect pests

  • Bougainvillea Loppers
  • Scales
  • Aphids

The bougainvillea lopper

The bougainvillea loppers are nocturnal meaning they are most active at night times and the only thing you will see during daylight is the damage or webbing, as you do your inspection you may come across these insects. The caterpillars (bougainvillea loppers) do damage by chewing the leaves leaving holes and causing the plant to appear sickly.

These caterpillars appear around mid-summer, the use of bacillus thuringiensis or neem oil will bring them under control. Before applying pesticides read and follow the manufacturer’s label because the label is the law.


Scale insects are very tiny but can cause huge damage to your plant. These garden insect pests remain motionless causing much damage, the body of scale insects is round and looks like armor. Scales also cause damage by sucking the plant’s fluids which contribute to the yellowing of the leaves, leaf drop, and sooty mold the use of insecticidal soaphorticultural oil, or releasing beneficial insects into your garden area will eliminate them.


Aphids are tiny pear-shaped insects that also cause damage by sucking the plant’s sap and excreting a sticky substance known as honeydew which encourages sooty mold. A strong spray of water or the use of insecticidal soap will bring them under control.

Diseases of bougainvillea

  • Root Rot
  • Leaf Spot
  • Chlorosis

Root Rot

Root rot is caused by overwatering or soils that have poor drainage, signs of root rot include yellowing of the leaves followed by leaf drop if discovered early the use of a spectrum of fungicides will help but if the disease has spread and the plant has deteriorated remove and discard of.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot appears as reddish-brown spots on leaves especially the new growth, this color spreads and enlarges causing defoliation or leaf drop. To avoid leaf spots don’t allow the leaves to get wet, watering during the morning hours will allow the leaves to dry also pruning will help with proper air circulation. When this disease shows up immediately remove infected plant parts, a fungicide will offer some help but will not bring a total cure.


Plants which has pale green leaves with dark veins along with yellow leaves are an indication that your plant may have chlorosis,  root rot may also encourage this disease. A lack of iron is the major cause, 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water well shaken and poured around the plant’s root zone will help also, and aluminum sulfate or iron sulfate will correct this problem. Follow the manufacturer’s direction for the best results.

Ideas were to install bougainvillea

1. Bougainvilleas can be installed as a hedge.

2. They can be installed as a specimen plant.

3. Bougainvilleas can be installed alongside a fence.

4. Install them along a wall.

5. Looks great when installed and kept groomed on either side of a long driveway.

6. Plant in containers and place the container on either side of your door entrance.

7. Place them in containers and install the containers on your porch or patio.

8. Install them in front of your house pillars.

9. Install bougainvilleas in containers and place them around your pool area.

Training your Variegated Bougainvillea Plant

Bougainvilleas can be trained to grow in the direction that you want them, these plants are considered to be climbers so as mentioned earlier installing them near a fenced area, a trellis, close to a tree or some architectural structure will help them to climb. You may, however, have to help them by using garden straps for support.

Container grown plants

When growing variegated bougainvilleas in containers ensure that the container has drain holes for water to drain because these plants are drought-tolerant and don’t like wet feet. The soil should be well-drained, good garden soil or soil that contains organics will work, when growing in containers bougainvilleas can be grown either as a shrub or standard plant which means you will have to know how to prune them for your desired results.

If going for standard then a trellis should be placed in the container to help support and direct their growth. Water moderately especially when they are in their bloom season. As mentioned earlier these plants do produce lots of flower bloom without the use of fertilizers but if you want to go ahead and apply fertilizers then bloom special will work wonders. Ensure when placing containers look for an area that gets 6 hours of sunlight.

Pruning your variegated bougainvillea

Pruning has so many advantages some of these benefits include causing your bougainvilleas to maintain their natural form or creating some other design, pruning will create more flower production and a fuller plant which means a healthier plant. Before starting your pruning ensure that you’re wearing hard gloves to protect your hands from thorns. Although pruning can be done at any time of the year the best time to prune is early spring.

Tools such as your hand pruner, lopper shears, and hedge shears should be sharp and in good repair. When pruning, look for wood that is diseased, dead, or overgrown and remove it. Removing whole branches back to the main truck will help in thinning the plant, and remove faded or spent flowers by pinching.

The final word

The variegated bougainvillea is an amazing plant that offers so much and can give that WOW to a landscape and garden design, I have seen the beauty of these garden plants that are so impressive so if you’re interested in the care and the growth of this plant then following this guide will help you to receive the desired results so go for it you will be so happy that you did.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

11 thoughts on “Variegated Bougainvillea Plant”

  1. Great article, quite lengthy, but I really enjoyed reading.  I learned a lot from this article alone.  I enjoy gardening, and like a colourful garden, even though I am very good with plant names.  I am glad I came across your post, I am going to be a frequent visitor to this website and learn more about the plants.  Thank you for publishing this post. 

    • It is so good to hear that you enjoy gardening as I do. This is a great hobby which is so beneficial to our environment and our bodies. I am so happy to help and all the best to you. Have a good day.

  2. Hi, I love the Bougainvillea, beautiful plants. I used to have them when I was living in Australia in our courtyard but now I am living in Sweden and the weather is not as warm. Would I be able to have this kind of plant here? Or would I have to keep them inside? Would they be able to survive a winter here or perhaps there is something I can do to keep them alive throughout the winter?

    • Bougainvilleas are really amazing, these tropical beauties grow very well in tropical regions, in the more colder climates it may be a challenge but you can test on a small basis and see what happens. Plant a single bougainvillea in a container and see how it goes. I hope this helps and I am so happy to help.

  3. Now I have reading your article this variegated Bougainvillea plant is interesting to me.I planted various varieties of flower vegetable Including Variegated plant it in my garden.

    I noticed that the trees in my garden were dying suddenly because I knew it was Ceylon.Your article seen  later found out how to care for a  variegated Bougainvillea plant.

    You have shown how to select the soil and how to care for planting the plant in the soil.I think it is helpful for us.Everyone should know about the plant’s care.

    Thanks to posting this article.Go ahead i am always with you.

  4. It is good to know all of this information, because I will enrich my garden with this plant as well. I am not familiar with her at all, including her diseases, and environment that could possible damage this plant.

    And because they are climbers I am planning on using them on my shed in the back of my property.

    I will bookmark your website for future posts.

  5. You make a great case to add the Variegated bougainvillea plant to the garden. The thought of the leaves adding interest after the flowers go it very compelling. Whenever I have seen this plant in the gardens of others, they are laid out against a wall to provide a backdrop of color to a green lawn. 

    How badly and often do the insects get to the plants? Is this something that happens to every plant or does it depend on specific conditions? I like the idea that they are drought tolerant as we have such a garden and watering is controlled using a drip system. 

    Thanks for an engaging article about the variegated bougainvillea plant.


    • These plants are pretty amazing and will give that wow. Even with a well-maintained garden you may still find a few garden pests lurking that’s why it is always best to keep your plants growing as healthy as possible that way your garden plants have a fighting chance of bouncing back and with the use of pesticides will keep your plants in tip-top shape.

  6. I’m not as much of a green thumb when it comes to gardening, but have been educating myself more as I’ve now started to pay closer attention. My hubby works as a maintenance manager for a golf course where he’s integrated gardening into his job as nobody else at the site seems to know (or care) about the multitude of beautiful plants they have there. This love for gardening he developed is due to his supervisor’s love and knowledge of it. Hubby absorbed it like a sponge and now I’m beginning to learn.

    Last fall, hubby brought home clippings from the golf course (with approval) and together we’ve been working on them. I also purchased and brought home to add to what’ becoming quite a collection.

    Two plants I’ve been struggling with and what you wrote helps give a bit of insight of what to do to save them. I’ve even subscribed as I want to keep learning more.


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