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Bougainvillea on a Wire Trellis?

Posted by cara5610 9, NW Florida (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 17, 08 at 16:57

I bought a bougainvillea recently w/o fully knowing about the plant. Now, I'd like to set it up outside growing on a wire trellis and have it grow into a "natural" fence-line for about 8-12 feet across.

First, is a wire trellis (wire stretched across a few wooden posts) strong enough for a bougainvillea's weight as it grows?

Second, I live in Northwest Florida and we do get some frosts/and rare freezes here in the winter. Is it not a good idea to plant the bougainvillea in the ground? Would it survive the winter? It might be difficult to try to cover it during a frost/freeze if it spreads well on the trellis.

Lastly, if it's best to not grow a bougainvillea on a trellis outdoors, what would be the best thing as a potted plant? It's already getting a lot of woody vines at the base. If I pruned it back really strong, would it grow more like a shrub?

Thanks for any information!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Bougainvillea on a Wire Trellis?

A freeze will kill it. A frost probably will as well. I kept one in a large pot fpr bout five years, moving it indoors in the winter.

I don't it will survive in the ground in your area. Maybe someone in your area will see your question and respond to it.

RE: Bougainvillea on a Wire Trellis?

Hi Cara,
I am also gardening in zone 9, although I'm on the east coast. I have several bougainvillas in my garden and they have been very robust plants to say the least. We may have a slightly warmer winter than you but the few freezes that we do have only only burn back to folage a bit. I cover the root and trunk area if a freeze is forcast and the plant bounces back in the spring. I have mine planted against the west side of my house and on a south facing fence. So it may not be as happy in an open, unprotected area.
Give this plant plenty of room and good support, it can get HUGE and quite heavy. The thorns are wicked so it could make a good security fence, but it can be an adventure to trim back. Think stout pressure treated wood and rebar instead of fencing wire and posts. I have one of mine on a welded rebar arbor and the other is growing on a stout wood pergoda that my DH built just for it. Like you, I had no idea what this plant would do when I planted it and it took over one whole corner of my yard. I have a low tolerance for unruly plants but the flowers are so beautiful that I decided to make allowances and spend some money on heavy duty supports.
Bougainvillea takes pruning very well. I have cut mine back severly several times and it always bounces back bigger than ever. I have seen them trained into a shrub, small tree and even hanging baskets. It would just take a bit of diligence to keep it shaped as you would want it. In my experence, when bougainvillea is planted where its happy, it's a beautiful plant with plans to take over the world. Keep your pruning shears sharp.
Happy gardening, Cindy

RE: Bougainvillea on a Wire Trellis?

Thanks for all the information!

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