TomM
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on bougainvilleas

I'm no expert with this but have had some luck of late, mostly by way of trial and error. While I may not be following the rules I will offer these tips. Keep in mind I am in a cold climate and your location could dictate other techniques.

My bougies are kept outdoors throughout the warmer months (May-Sep) where they are protected from wind and heavy rain, getting about 4-5 hours of full sun and 3-4 more of filtered sun. When they come in they go onto a wire rack with a small hydroponic light fixture, nothing fancy, roughly 6 inches below the bulbs.

Here's what I think is the important part - this 'readjustment' period of moving from outdoors to indoors seems to send them into an unhappy mood. Over the next several weeks they will mope and look sickly and drop leaves. (this is their Autumn - their deciduous transition). So I let them rest. I take them away from the light stand and move them to a cool dimly lit corner of the cellar floor and leave them alone for a few weeks. This is in Jan-Feb. During this time I moisten them only once a week but no heavy watering. They are nearly dormant.

Around mid Feb. I bring them back up to the light stand which is placed in a sunny corner and let them 'SPRING' - back to life gradually as the sun and the artificial lighting combine to rejuvenate the life cycle. They often look like crap at this time. I sometimes think they have died. But they respond to this very well. I now water them well. As the first buds form I begin the water and fertilizer routine. By Mar-April they are well on their way and anxious to get back outdoors - but they can not be frosted!

This may not work for everyone, in every location, but it works for me here. I would like to hear from LUCENDA in Chicago and get her advice and experience as well as others who do bougainvillea bonsai successfully. Let's make this a bougie primer column and maybe help some who struggle with theirs - perhaps by trying too hard or by misconceptions.

kdodds
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Great thread considering the recent surge in popularity of this species as bonsai. My experiences are pretty much the same, they look like death indoors over-winter. So, I gave up on having bonsai that look like that 6 months out of the year.

TomM
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Yeah, but oh the rewards!

Patience, persistence, long waits, dedication and pride.

Besides - a lot of other bonsai only look really good for a short period of time during the growing season - not just bougies. :lol:

gbhunter77
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noticed

I have 2 light fixtures one with powerful bulbs but they are further apart. I have another that has the bulbs virtually on top of each other. The lights that a tightly packed seem to keep the plant green for the entire winter. I read that the min light for bougies is 4000lumens/sq foot. My other tropicals do very well in my hydrophonic farm. ;)

kdodds
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Lumens is a horrible measure of light requirements. Usually the figures recommended are based on standard T8/T12 fluorescents, which have very poor PAR per watt/lumen ratios. MH, SV, etc. offer much higher PAR per watt, but run awful hot AND, as you know, require a tons of wattage. You can EASILY replace whatever you have with T5HOs and get the better PAR values of the MH lamps with less heat and wattage. A single 20" 4 lamp fixture will run at 72W, costs $55, and will be more than enough to sustain a bougie (or any tropical) through the winter. A 48" fixture runs $100, is 216W and would easily be large enough, suspended 1-2' above the trees, to cover a 2'x4' grow table.

lucenda
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Well; I think that the mild winter; early spring and hot summer here did wonders to all my tropicals!

I kept my bougainvillea near a window s/w in winter. It had some afternoon sun most of the days. There were some pretty warm days in April already; so I put the trees outside for the day.

Water only from out of my fish tank; and only once a month some Miracle grow with a lot of water.

However; the tree is still in a large trainings pot. I realize when I repot it into a much smaller pot with much less soil and less roots; I have to give more fertilizer than I give now.


[img]https://i1190.photobucket.com/albums/z458/Lucenda2/Pictureofme10.png[/img]

gbhunter77
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t5

I have six 54w t5 and for my bougie it was not enough. However the 4 39w withe the bulbs very very close to each other worked well. So all I can speak from is what I have witnessed personally. The 54w are further apart. The 54w are spaced at 1/2 foot. The 39w are at less than 1/4 foot. It seems the higher concentration of light made the differance in my case.x

gbhunter77
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not sure

I write on a tablet I might be double posting by accident. My bougies become terribly barren during the winter. I have no sunny window so t5 is all I get. Once I can get out of my living arrangement I'll have lots o sunny windows. Then t5 goes bye bye. Bougies are the only plants that give me issues,I tried 6500k bulbs but I talked with Jerry Meislik he looked over a few light wave length graphs and he recommended the 18k bulbs. I will try more bulbs in that range once winter comes this year to see what happens. The temp in the chamber is 92 deg. I use a hydrophonic chamber since I have a cat that eats plants...although my plants it would most likely on le eat once then get poisoned. Michigan is terrible for ficus bonsai.

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Hi everyone,

Not to hijack this thread or anything, but I recently acquired my first bougie bonsai about a week ago. Is the wood normally supposed to be soft and spongy-like?
I am Quintin, the one who became inspired, informed, and intrigued by bonsai. But I also like gardening too. :D

gbhunter77
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err

Are we talking new growth or old wood sponge like on old wood might be rot.

gbhunter77
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err

Are we talking new growth or old wood sponge like on old wood might be rot.

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Well I would say it's old wood. Mainly it's the bark of the trunk. It has a soft feel when I press into it with my fingers.

[img]https://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/Skeletor619/0709121857.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/Skeletor619/0709121857a.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y134/Skeletor619/0709121857b.jpg[/img]
I am Quintin, the one who became inspired, informed, and intrigued by bonsai. But I also like gardening too. :D

TomM
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My two do not seem soft & spongy at all - actually hard and firm. Yours appears to be an older stump. Do you know if it has been established well in this pot? Are the large chops sealed and healed?

Bougies can be difficult to wire as they tend to be brittle and snap easily, but I see that wiring has been started. Nice!

Do not keep it constantly wet. They like to dry a bit in between waterings, just a little more than most others. Good start otherwise - though I would have waited longer before beginning to style it. One big difference, and advantage that you have, is your very warm location.

I do not understand the issue of softness in the trunk - really hope the plant is healthy. Best of luck with it.

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Intriguedbybonsai
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I bought it on ebay. I do believe that the tree had just been repotted, and those chop marks do appear fresh. Further inspection into the soil, and it I see alot of fine roots.

As for the wiring, I didn't apply it, it came that way. During shipping, some of the wired branches did break, and I did some pruning to remove them.

Did I mention it came from southern Florida? Maybe because it's previous location, which receives alot of rain is the reason for the softness? I'll try and ease off the watering.
I am Quintin, the one who became inspired, informed, and intrigued by bonsai. But I also like gardening too. :D

lucenda
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When I checked on my bougainvillea this morning I saw little white flowers. So the red/pink flowers are not the flowers but leaves? I never saw white flowers in a bougainvillea! :?

[img]https://i1190.photobucket.com/albums/z458/Lucenda2/Pictureofme12.png[/img]

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applestar
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Yes, the colored parts are bracts, I believe, like with poinsettias.

gbhunter77
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yep

Little white flowers are the norm. Mine look just like that.
There is no such thing as too much bonsai. Just not enough room!

TomM
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Mine too. Nearly all the bracts have 2 or 3 gorgeous pinky white star-like flowers. And just as this one is finished my other one, a 'pink pixie', will begin to bloom - usually lasting into the Fall.

gbhunter77
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bloom

Mine only bloom under stress normally. Its just green most of the summer.
There is no such thing as too much bonsai. Just not enough room!

kdodds
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IME, all bougies have a slight give to the bark, almost like a soft or corky feel. Spongy? I wouldn't go that far. But softer than a maple or even a ficus, absolutely.

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Okay. Yes the bark is definitely soft and corky. Maybe I went a little overboard with the spongy feel description. lol
I am Quintin, the one who became inspired, informed, and intrigued by bonsai. But I also like gardening too. :D

lucenda
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What is the best time to prune a bougie? Mine is growing out of control; I do not want to cut off all those beautifull flowers but I am afraid I have to.

Can I keep the cuttings in water or soil?

Thank you; this is a great forum for beginners!

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