The tropical bougainvillea arborea, commonly is called the bougainvillea tree because rather than growing like a typical flowered bougainvillea vine, the arborea species growth pattern is similar to a tree in that it grows upward and features a sturdy, but pliable trunk. The bougainvillea tree typically also does not have thorns, which are characteristic of common bougainvillea.
A fairly new bougainvillea species, the tree is tropical and thrives in hot, sunny and dry areas and needs soil that drains well. However, soil does not need to be rich in nutrients for the bougainvillea to grow well. The trees seem to grow well in Arizona, Texas and some areas of Florida.
Bougainvillea trees are fast growers, and they typically grow to 30 feet tall and have a spread of about 24 feet wide. The trees feature short single 10-inch trunks and thick crowns, which make the trees look somewhat top heavy. Bougainvillea trees also feature fragrant lavender bracts, which are modified leaves that bloom. The trees’ bracts bloom during spring and summer. It’s common for the tree to be mistaken for a crepe myrtle because of its striking color.
There is little maintenance required for bougainvillea trees. However, the trees must be pruned after they have flowered to encourage new flowering while preventing unruly growth since they are such fast-growing trees. During spring and summer, the trees can cause a mess with dead blooms dropping off during the entire blooming season. The more bougainvillea trees are pruned, the flowering occurs later. The flowering can be extremely dense, and the lack of thorns makes pruning a bit easier on the arms. Unlike other bougainvillea, caterpillars don’t have a devastating affect on the tree’s leaves. You also can propagate a bougainvillea tree with cuttings and new plants can be potted in containers and transferred.