Bouvardia – Bouvardia x hybrida

Bouvardia is a lovely plant that deserves to be more widely grown and to regain the popularity it once enjoyed as an important part of many plant collections.

Unfortunately, when the plant fell out of favour many of the hybrids that had been developed were lost to cultivation. However, several good ones are still available. The most popular are those hybrids that have white, red or orange flowers.

The long tubular flowers are trumpet-shaped; in some forms they have a sweet fragrance similar to that of jasmine. The blooms closely resemble those of Bouvardia’s relative the Star Cluster, Pentas lanceolate.

Bouvardia often flowers profusely; some plants have so many flowers that they cover the plant. The flowers can be cut often and used in floral arrangements and still leave numerous colourful blooms on the plant. Some forms, such as Bouvardia longiflora, are grown commercially for cut flowers and in the past were frequently used in bridal bouquets.Bouvardia - Bouvardia x hybrida

If you use Bouvardia as a cut flower, add a little preservative to the water so that the flowers will last longer. Cut the stems on a slant just before you put them into the water.

Try to obtain Bouvardia in September, so you will have the benefit of its long flowering period through the autumn months and into the winter. It normally flowers from September to December, although in warm areas it will often start to bloom much earlier.

You can put your plant outside in the summer on the patio or balcony, but you should move it inside again before there is any danger of frost. Make sure you put it in a sheltered position.

Bouvardia is a shrubby plant which usually reaches a height of 60cm (24in).

Through The Year

January—April

This is the time to propagate your plant from cuttings. The easiest way to do this is to take root cuttings. Take them from stout roots and cut them into pieces about 25mm ( 1 in) long. Scatter them over a layer of sandy peaty compost and cover them with • 13mm (½in) of the compost. Put the cut- , tings in a spot where you can maintain the temperature at about 13°-15°C (55°-60°F).

May—December

You can move plants outdoors at the end of May or when the danger of night frosts has passed. Put them in full sun or light shade. Pinch out the tips of young plants a few times to encourage bushy growth, but do not do this after June. Water and feed well. Take the plants in again at the end of August. They will start to bloom in September. Feed and water throughout this period, and flowering may continue until the end of December.

Pests And Diseases

Bouyardia is usually a healthy plant. It is only rarely bothered by diseases or pests other than aphids.

Aphids weaken the plant as they suck its sap. Treatment: Spray your plant with a strong stream of water. If the attack is serious, use a suitable insecticide.

PLANT CARE

This plant is fairly easy, but it needs bright light and rather cool temperatures. Cut back after flowering; the young stems can be used as cuttings. Pinch out young shoots once or twice in the spring for bushy growth.

  • Potting: Repot each year, trimming the roots if necessary. Use a rich well-drained soil-based potting compost.
  • Water moderately and regularly in the summer and sparingly in the winter. Do not allow the compost to dry out.
  • Feeding: Feed once a week from the summer through to the end of the flowering period in December. Use a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Bouvardia does best in full sunlight or light shade.
  • Temperature: Keep at 13°-15°C (55°-60°F). It will tolerate cooler temperatures in the winter but it cannot tolerate frost.

Buying Tips

  • Available when in flower, from September to December. If you cannot find the plant locally, try a specialist nursery.
  • Choose a plant with lots of flower buds and dense foliage.
  • Although Bouvardia is often discarded after 1-2 years, it will live for many years if it is cut back annually when flowering has finished.

A delightful plant with a long flowering season, Bouvardia is best grown in a greenhouse or conservatory where it can be kept in fairly cool conditions.

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