Poinsettias, hydrangeas and bougainvillea don't look alike or do they? Well, the plants have different shapes and they are of different colors. So how are they somewhat the same? Here it is - what we call flowers are all modified leaf portions. Yes, those colorful portions are really what we could call leaves.
Real flowers for all of these plantings are among these leafy portions and are usually a yellowish color. The plants also have something in common. I get lots of questions about them so here are some tips.
Many want to know what to do with their left over poinsettias. There are two options. One is to grow them in a larger container and the other is to plant them in the ground. Use a good potting mixture in containers and improve sandy soils with organic matter. Then give them a sunny to filtered sun location to grow.
Keep poinsettias moist and feed with a slow release garden or container fertilizer following label instructions. Cut them back to within 12- to 18-inches of the soil. Allow the plants to grow 12 inches then cut the top 4 inches of each shoot. Allow more new growth and then repeat the prunings through August.
Hydrangeas are a bit more tricky. For success, find them a spot with sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Or find them a spot with filtered sun throughout the day. Make sure the soil in your garden or container has lots of organic matter. Hydrangeas like to be moist or they wilt and decline. Keep the soil moist and apply a slow release fertilizer. Here is something else important. Do all needed pruning before the end of summer. Hydrangeas form their buds during the fall and winter. Late season pruning would remove the spring to early summer flower buds.
Bougainvillea is often hard for gardeners to flower. If you keep the plants in containers they are more likely to be consistent bloomers as the plants become pot-bound and forced into flower. When planted in the ground they like to grow for a while and may skip a year or two of flowering.
Keep the bougainvillea root ball moist after plantings until new roots grow out into the surrounding soil. This may take a year. Once established water only as needed to keep the soil from drying. Apply a slow release fertilizer in March, May and August. Too much good care keeps the plants from flowering. Also, complete all pruning by mid summer to allow new shoots to mature and form buds for winter and spring bloom.
There you are. These plants have at least one feature in common but otherwise are very different.