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White bougainvillea is a showoff

Not as popular as red and purple bougainvillea, white flowers nonetheless are a standout in South Florida gardens.
Not as popular as red and purple bougainvillea, white flowers nonetheless are a standout in South Florida gardens. Miami Herald file

Of the many cultivars of bougainvillea, white may often be overlooked in favor of those with brilliantly colored bracts, such as Barbara Karst, Royal Purple, Jamaica Red, California Gold and many more.

But if you’re planting large, vining bougainvilleas on a fence, consider inserting a white shrub every so often. You will be delighted with how it shows off and even highlights the colors of its neighbors. There are many white cultivars, Jamaica White and Summer Show, and a double white.

Given its head, bougainvillea will grow as high as the tops of oak trees. It likes full sun to light shade.

Heat-loving vining shrubs, bougainvillea need excellent drainage. They are drought tolerant, flowering best in our dry season, but they grow best with a weekly irrigation. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as the palm special 8-2-12. Too much nitrogen will promote vegetative growth over flower development.

In the summer growing season, when these plants seem to extend their whippy branches by the day, you would do well to prune them once or twice a month.

Bougainvillea can get tiny caterpillars. Leaves will drop in cold weather or from over- or under-watering. If using the palm fertilizer, which contains magnesium, you may avoid magnesium deficiency or yellowing in older leaves.

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