Bougainvillea x buttiana
Plant of the month: January
Bougainvillea x buttiana (a cross between B. glabra and B. peruviana) is an evergreen vine, which is just as happy spreading horizontally or hanging downwards as climbing upwards, making it useful in various situations. Originally from tropical and sub-tropical South America we are now used to seeing this exotic plant covering trellises and pergolas on our Mediterranean travels. It is actually the national flower of Guam in the western Pacific. The colourful papery ‘blooms’ are not flowers but modified leaves called bracts that come in threes, surrounding the true flowers which are white, trumpet shaped and almost unnoticeable within the bracts. The tiny thorns along its stems, which it uses to clamber through trees can be something of a surprise to the unsuspecting admirer! There are many cultivars available in a range of colours and potted specimens can be grown outdoors in the summer but will need protection from frost and must be brought indoors to overwinter.