Bouvardia or the firecracker bush is a popular choice for ornamental flowers. The mildly scented flowers add a tropical feel to every decore. Bouvardia flowers attract many pollinators like Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies hence got their name as the hummingbird flower. These flowers are narrow and trumpet-shaped filled with nectar. The plants are short and compact with a maximum height of 3 feet or 90 cm. Bouvardia is very easy to grow and maintain. You should discuss how to care for Bouvardia before getting one for your garden.
The genus Bouvardia has 30 different flowering plant members. All of them are known as The firecracker plant or the Hummingbird flower plant. They differ in the shape and size of the plants and their blooms. Most of the time flower color also differs.
Bouvardia is native to the Sonoran desert in Mexico, central and southwestern America. It is a hardy flowering plant in USDA zone 9 through 11. Although you can easily grow Bouvardia in any of the heat zone (1 to 12) with little adjustments.
Check out my previous post: How to Grow and Propagate Bouvardia, the Firecracker bush?
How to Care for Bouvardia Plants?
Bouvardia plants are pretty easy to grow and care for. You should only lookout for the basic needs of this plant. It will definitely handle the rest. Do you know what are the needs of a Bouvardia plant? No… , don’t worry keep reading for details.
A Bouvardia plant needs-
- Quality fertile Soil Mix
- Warm and humid Climate
- Bright sunlight
- Pest and disease control
- Pruning and Deadheading
Start with a healthy soil mix. You can either use a commercial soil mix or make your own. Grow the Bouvardia in a well-lit bright location where it can receive 4-6 hours of sunlight. water the plant only when it looks slightly droopy or the soil looks and feels dry. Keep in mind a little wilt will not kill the plant instead overwatering can cause root rot.
Once you have a Bouvardia plant growing and flowering in your garden. The next task is to keep it clean and healthy. To achieve this goal you have to deal with several pests that can damage the Bouvardia plant. Aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, and mites are common pests in Bouvardia plants.
Stay aware and treat these insects as soon as you find any sign of infestation. You can use an insecticidal soap solution to control these pests in the initial phase.
The final task is Pruning and deadheading of Bouvardia plants. It is important to keep the Bouvardia plant clean. And to keep it clean you have to remove the dead and spent flowers and leaves. Prune the plant to half of its height after each season. It will grow back again in spring with new healthier and stronger branches.
How to Keep Bouvardia Plants Healthy?
You must take care of three important factors to keep the Bouvardia plant healthy. These are proper lights, Regular feeding, and Careful watering.
Sun is the only source of light in the outside garden. Whereas you can use artificial grow light for Indoor gardens. Next, 100s of Bouvardia blooms together require too much energy hence it is important to feed the plant regularly. Use balanced fertilizers twice every month to enrich the soil. Also, use liquid fertilizers in 10 days intervals to encourage more blooms in Bouvardia.
Also read: How to Care for Southern Belle Hibiscus?
Bouvardia Plant Care
Soil Preparation for Bouvardia
You can use any general-purpose soil mix to grow a Firecracker bush, Bouvardia. It can tolerate a variety of soil types. The soil must be natural to slightly acidic. It should have good drainage and also retain enough moisture to keep the roots hydrated.
It is better to prepare a healthy soi mix for Bouvardia although any type of soil mix is fine. You can use 50% clean garden soil with 40% compost and 10% sand for best results.
Preparing good and healthy soil is the first step to care for Bouvardia plants.
Fertilizer and Watering
Bouvardia just like any other plant needs to be feed regularly. Nutrition is important to keep the plant healthy and to develop flowers. So you should apply organic compost once every month with 2 spoons of balanced fertilizer to the soil. After this feed the Bouvardia plants with soluble NPK18:18:18 in 10 days intervals.
Once the plant has started blooming then apply a diluted Epsom salt spray once in 10 to 15 days.
Just like fertilization, Watering is also very important to care for Bouvardia plants. These flowering plants love moist soil but soggy soil can harm the roots. So it is better to let the soil dry before the next spill. Water deeply only once or twice every week as needed.
You must keep in mind, light wilt due to underwatering will never kill the Bouvardia plant but overwatering will certainly do. Therefore water only when requires.
Support and Fencing
Bouvardia plants generally don’t need external support. The cluster of its branches can hold each other. Although it is better to grow Bouvardia along a side wall or a fence. This will give protect the plant from animal attacks. It also helps to stay firm in the ground even on windy days.
Pests like aphids, mealybugs, mites, and beetles can create problems for your Bouvardia plant. You must deal with these bugs as soon as you can. the first step is to wash off as much as you can. Use a jet spray to dither bugs away from the plant especially from the underside of the leaves.
Then spray the leaves and branches with soap and oil spray. And finally, use mild pesticides to kill them completely.
Most probably the first and second steps should be enough. If not then only use chemical pesticides. Remember chemical pesticides can also harm Bees, butterflies, and Hummingbirds. Natural pest control techniques can be an alternative.
You can use beneficial garden predator insects and animal-like frogs, lizards, and ladybugs to control the pests naturally.
Check out: How Much Sunlight Does Lettuce Need?
Mulching and Weed Control
Use only organic mulch to avoid moisture loss and weed growth in the soil. Proper use of wood chips or moss can prevent water loss due to evaporation up to 30%. It will also suppress any germination of grass seeds. It will also feed the plants after decomposition.
Weeds and grass should not be allowed to grow near these flowering plants. They can cause a shortage of nutrients and water for the Bouvardia. So keep an eye on any unnecessary growth around the plant. And remove it as soon as you can.
Pruning and Deadheading
Pruning and deadheading are two essential parts of care for Bouvardia. Deadheading helps the plant to stay clean and free from pests and diseases.
Whereas Pruning will save resources once the flowering is over. It will encourage the Bouvardia plant to use nutrients only to grow new branches.
You must remove the dead and spent flowers and leaves to keep the plant clean. Also, cut off any dead or infected branches to prevent further infestation.
Prune the Bouvardia plant once the blooming season is over or if it has stopped flowering. Cut it back to half of its length. Hard pruning at this stage can lead to healthier branches in the next season. Although prune only with a clean and sanitized pruner or sharp knife. Consider the size and health of the Plant before cutting.
You must grow Bouvardia in open sunlight in nutrition-rich moist soil. And Don’t worry about extra care. The Bouvardia plant will manage everything else. Once all the requirements of the Bouvardia plant are fulfilled it will continue to bloom for years in your garden.