Saturday, December 15, 2012
How do I grow Bouvardia?
Don Burke reckons Bouvardia is a terrific plant but difficult to grow. That hasn't been my experience but I have Minh on hand to work out the bugs. It can't be that hard though, we over winter plants in 140mm pots under light shade, then give them a trim and pot them on as soon as we see any sign of fresh growth in Spring. That tends to be some time in October. Of course the obsessive care and attention that goes into the trimming, potting and fine tuning as the plants develop helps.
Bouardia is a perennial plant from tropical South America. We currently only have a white flowered species with pristine star flowers that are beautifully perfumed. It is a very popular bridal flower. In the garden around Melbourne it is ideal in pots or well drained soil. It does need a warm, sheltered spot like it's cousins Gardenia, Coffee and Cinchona. Our potting mix is slightly acid (pH 6-6.5) and Bouvardia appears to be quite happy growing in this.
Once the stems get growing the take off quickly, hence the importance of vigorous trimming when we pot them up. They are also brittle once the get long so it is important to provide protection from strong winds. Our plants have just started flowering. We had planned a Bouvardia promotion for Christmas this year but September and October were so cool we were not confident they would be ready. As it turns out the are almost there, we have released plants earlier than we would prefer mostly because they will peak just after Christmas when our ability to distribute them will be at its lowest. Don't get me wrong these are well shaped, bushy plants with flower & bud the would just show some more flower & bud over the next couple of weeks. They will flower until well after Mother's Day, although I must admit we will shift them indoors around May to extend the flowering season.
Bouvardia takes us just over 12 months to grow and requires lots of care. I bet you won't find competing plants in Bunnings or Masters, ask at your local independent nursery.