Bougainvillea ‘Mrs Helen McLean’
This attractive Bougainvillea is one of many cultivars which have been developed from Bougainvillea x buttiana; also known as B. ‘Afterglow’, Bougainvillea ‘Mrs. Helen McLean’ bears richly coloured orange bracts. These leaf-like structures surround the small insignificant flowers and are often mistaken for their petals. This woody (and thorny) scandent climber from tropical Brazil can be vigorous and rampant when established, needing space as it grows. Fortunately, the bracts are produced on young plants, and immature plants are best for the smaller home. The hybrid B. x buttiana is very vigorous: allow plenty of space or be prepared to discard very large specimens.
Conservatory-grown plants – kept at around 21°C (70°F) and well ventilated will ‘flower’ almost continuously. Under cooler growing conditions, Bougainvillea need a rest period (from the end of flowering – usually Autumn to Winter) and will bloom from Spring to late Summer. Provide a Winter minimum of 7°C (45°F) and 13°C (55°F) in Summer, with 16°C (60°F) being the optimum for the growing season.
Grow in good, bright light; small pot-grown plants will need turning regularly to achieve balanced growth on all sides. Wall-grown conservatory plants will benefit if the wall is painted white.
Allow theto become moderately dry before watering; water as necessary during the growing period and give less during cool weather and the rest period.
Bougainvillea will tolerate quite dry air; mist regularly if the temperatures are high (above 21°C/70°F), preferably during the early morning when the likelihood of scorch damage will be minimal.
During the growing period, feed every two weeks, using a proprietary houseplant fertilizer -diluted at half strength on well-established plants.
Use loam-based compost for additional stability; repot overcrowded specimens in early Spring, taking care not to disturb the roots. Prune to shape in Autumn; older plants need a support system of wires.
Mealy Bugs: Old, well-established plants will provide an ideal environment for Mealy Bug; use a cotton bud and methylated spirit to dissolve small infestations or a suitable insecticide if the attack is bad.