Paper Flower Plant

When I was a little girl, I used to be amazed by the extravagance of the colourful plant that lined the walls of my street. “Bougainvillea” they called it. Literature has immortalized the fragrance of flowers since time immemorial. Yet, here I was, seeing the most captivating beauty, the ‘princess of flowers’, with no smell at all and I recalled the story my grandmother once told me.

Once upon a time…

There was a time, long ago, when Bougainvilleas filled the air with their sweet aroma. It was a perfect blend of colour, grace, fragrance and beauty. So enticed were all the cattle by their beauty that they trampled over grass, neglected other plants in the floral kingdom, in their race towards them. Disheartened and forsaken, the grass were in tears. Taking pity on them, Bougainvilleas prayed to God to take their fragrance away.

Bougainvillea essence

Just a story it may be, but it speaks volumes about the nature of these plants. And true to their nature, the essence of Bougainvillea flower is known to have harmonizing qualities. It relaxes the body, eases depression and suffering, enhances your creative side, improves meditation and removes sub conscious blocks. It releases certain emotions that have been piled up from childhood or due to bitter experiences in the past. A certain species of Bougainvillea, Bougainvillea spectabilis, was found to exhibit antibacterial properties. Today there are hundreds of companies throughout the world that sell flower essences for healing purpose.

Have you actually noticed the flower?

The bracts of Bougainvillea, which are modified leaves, appear in a range of colours including red, purple, orange, apricot, white, pink, cream, yellow and sometimes a hybrid of these. Thus the name “paper flower plant” owes its origin to the thin, papery bracts, often mistaken to be the flower. The flower itself is inconspicuous as it is surrounded by the bracts.  Not many of us would have noticed these small, white, tubular flowers.

Having a Bougainvillea in your backyard

Bougainvilleas love sunshine and hate frost. They grow well in areas that receive at least four to five hours of full sunlight everyday. The soil used for the plant must have the ability to drain water quickly. Too much of water may kill the plant. Sandy or loamy soil is best suited. Bougainvilleas become dormant in winter, during which almost no watering is required. If you live in areas where the temperature is below freezing, it is better to bring the plant inside and cover it. It has high salt tolerance, making it fit to grow in coastal areas. With well fertilized soil, rich in phosphorous, Magnesium and other nutrients, the plant flowers for about ten months a year. Bougainvillea can be propagated by cutting a semi hardwood piece or leaf bud and rooting it.

The internet has plentiful information on plant care. You may also visit the nearest nursery if you want to enhance the beauty of your surroundings with these fine ornamental flowers.

Deepashri Varadarajan