Bougainvillea, native to South America, is a genus of thorny, vinelike plants that produce colorful flowers. Bougainvillea can grow upward of 15 feet high and can be evergreen or deciduous depending on the climate it grows in. Bougainvillea readily grows up an exterior house wall with minor amounts of training to point its vines in the right direction and a suitable foundation to hold onto. Once it takes, bougainvillea typically spreads over the entire wall and creates a brilliant display of color and vegetation.
Things You'll Need
12-gauge wire fence paneling
5-gallon clay pots with drainage holes
Started bougainvillea plants, at least 18 inches tall
Liquid flower fertilizer
Select a wall that receives full sunlight, or at least six hours of sun per day. Lay wire fence paneling against the house wall, leaving only 1 or 2 inches of space between. Leaning the paneling should suffice; you do not need to permanently secure it. Bougainvillea needs a base to climb on; you cannot train it to grow on your house wall without the wire base. Once it is growing healthily on the paneling, it will likely spread over the rest of the wall. Alternatively, you can create a wire grid directly on your wall with a roll of 12-gauge wire, small roofing nails and a hammer. You can find the necessary materials at your local home improvement store.
Place clay pots along the house wall at 3-foot intervals, directly against the wire paneling. Fill their bottoms with 2 inches of gravel. Add a 1-to-1 mixture of peat moss and potting soil to fill them the rest of the way, stopping 2 inches from the top. Make holes in the potting soil in the center of each pot, large enough to accommodate the bougainvillea plants. All the necessary materials should be available from your local gardening store.
Remove a started bougainvillea from its container and place it gently into the hole in one pot. Pack the soil around it and repeat with the remaining bougainvillea, one per pot, until all the planters are full. You can find started bougainvillea from most nurseries.
Pull the length of each bougainvillea toward the paneling and slide it beneath one wire. Weave the bougainvillea through the wire carefully, one or two rungs up, without breaking the stem. Repeat with the remaining plants.
Water the bougainvillea when the soil dries completely; the frequency depends on your climate. Feed them with a liquid fertilizer per manufacturer's instructions once monthly.
Weave the tops of the bougainvillea plants into the rungs of the wire paneling when they grow taller. Eventually, they should begin climbing it without assistance; at that point, the training is complete. Continue to care for the bougainvillea as it grows on the house wall as normal.
Bougainvillea grows best in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b and 10. If you live outside these zones, speak with an expert at your local plant nursery to learn how to care for the bougainvillea. If you live in a cold climate, growing bougainvillea on your house wall is likely not possible.
As an alternative to the planters, you can grow bougainvillea directly in the ground. However, the root system of the plants this close to your home could damage its foundation. If you opt for this, dig out 2 feet of dirt and replace it with the 1-to-1 mixture of peat moss and potting soil.