bouvardia questions

mehitabel(z6 MO)July 25, 2011

I love the scent and also the delicate flowers of bouvardia. Sometimes they are hard to grow, but this year I have three of them doing very well in 8" pots. But they haven't bloomed, and no buds either, even tho they were blooming when I got them. Also the leaves are held straight up instead of spread out.

I've got them in full sun, fert with nutricote. I think the straight up leaves may be an adaptation to sun, but why no flowers?

I know some people here have had success with these. Anyone have any idea what's going on with these?

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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Hi mehitabel,

I had a Bouvardia longiflora that I purchased from Logee's in spring and all was doing well. I had it in a fast draining mix (5:1:1) and pretty much full sun. I even got it to flower however the scent wasn't that strong but it was spicy which was nice. Then all heck broke lose and my leaves started to brown and shrivel and drop (I was told by a gardener on here that that would happen). I moved it to a shadier spot however no go. Poor thing croaked. When I pulled it out of its pot there were hardly any roots. Good luck and watch your watering. Guess I over watered mine.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 2:28PM
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I had one for 5 years until mine did just as Robert described and mine was in a great fast draining mix and given a perfect environment. It flowered faithfully every year several times a year with lots of sunlight and temps over the 65 degree mark at night.

This plant tends to get wilt badly sometimes cause the entire plant to shed. If one is not careful, it is easily susceptible to root rot during this stage.
They are also easily susceptible to root rot during the winter months when they naturally want to go into rest mode when days are short and temps cooler. Mine has even been known to shed all its leaves and stay bare until the spring when the hot sun returns.

I can tell you that Logees themselves told me they are very difficult to grow, even for them.

In my opinion, they are the hardest plant to keep happy and the hardest to grow. If it is not one thing, it's another.
What ultimately killed it was Botritis!

If you want a plant much easier to care for looking for just about the same fragrance, think about getting yourself a 'Brunsfelsia', Lady Of The Night' from Logees. This plant will not disappoint you.

Good luck


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 3:58PM
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Here is mine in it's happier days.

Here is a flowering Brunfelsia. It has flowered 6 times since the winter and on it's way to flowering again as of today. a reliable bloomer for sure with a very strong intoxicating fragrance especially at night. 4 different pictures taken at each 4 different flowering sessions.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 4:55PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Thanks for the comments, Mike and Robert, and for the pictures, Mike.

Yes, Bouvardia is difficult, certainly the most difficult I've encountered. A small new plant is difficult, and my first success got terrible spider mites the following winter, and I finally gave up hope for it and let it go.

These three are puzzling me because unlike Mikes pictures (and my recollections) the leaves aren't dark green and outfolded, they are folded upright along the stems, displaying a gray-green underside. And not one bloom!

Well, we'll have to see what happens. I do have Brunfelsias and love them. Beautiful and easy,

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:36PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

The last Bouvardias I had that showed green leaves were growing in a part-shade position. Today I moved one of the three Bouvardias out of the full-sun position ito a place where it is shaded by a pergola and lattice for several hours in midafternoon. By this evening, the leaves have abandoned the upright posture showing only the grey underside and are opening out to green. The other two are still upright and grey.

So I did learn something--showing just the undersides of the leaves to the sun is an adaptation to the intense heat and sun we've been having.

Now I'll have to see if it can set some buds.

These Bouvardias are in no way dying, they are putting out lots and lots of new growth, just were looking unlike my recollection and Mike's pictures.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 7:09PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Glad you figured out the intense afternoon sun was too much for them! Mine also looked better in some partial shade. My problem was I continued to water them 3 times a day like I've been doing with most of my potted plants in this intense hundred plus heatwave we've been having. What a dummy I was. Guess you need to let them dry slightly between watering.
I also noticed that when mine bloomed it did so on the oldest, woodiest section (the original stem from the cutting I received from Logee's). I didn't get any blooms on the new shoots coming up from the base.
Please give us all your secrets if yours survive, thrive and bloom!
Knowing me I'll probably try them again sometime before I croak.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 11:54AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, Robert. Yeah, three times a day is probably too much. Now why do I get the idea you enjoy watering? :)

Thanks for the tip about them blooming on old growth. Knowing old or new wood is the secret to know how and when to cut plants back.

The only secret so far was putting up with the teeny tiny pot for a month or more til they got a little pot bound before trying to pot up. The soil ball on tiny new plants kept falling apart, and they died a week after I got them. These grew a nice tight ball in a month or so, and so far have been repotted twice (in 6" pot now) without them suffering.

Winter is really hard on so many plants-- my last Bouvardia success succumbed to spider mites in winter. So I don't know if I can keep them going thru winter, but I'll certainly crow a little if they live.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 3:22PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

An update on the bouvardia. One of the bouvardia I put in the shade has set buds. These appeared in a cluster on the newest growth. I had forgotten that! So I have been keeping buds from setting by pinching and clipping new growth to "thicken" the plant.

They're all in afternoon shade now, and doing better.

Proves again, the #1 thing to know about blooming a plant is to know whether it blooms on old or new wood.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 11:38AM
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