I think one of the classic summer plants for our Mississippi gardens has to be bougainvillea. This tropical plant is perfect for a hanging basket or container on the porch and patio. Today Southern Gardening is visiting Rivers Nursery for a good look at these plants that require little care and can return many years of enjoyment. These bougainvillea baskets will develop long arching branches as the summer progresses. Be careful when handling because of the sharp thorns on the stems. The flowers are available in a variety of colors, but did you know they are not actually flowers? They’re really modified leaves called bracts and have a papery texture and surround the white tubular flowers. Best growth is achieved by full sun exposure. These plants are also heavy feeders, and will benefit from monthly applications of water soluble fertilizer. But the plants actually require very little irrigation, so be careful not to over water in between feedings. Bougainvillea begin to bloom in the spring and fall. The flowers are produced in cycles of about six weeks followed by a rest period. Bougainvillea can be pruned any time to keep the plant neat. Pruning after a flowering cycle will encourage branching, which leads to more flowers during the next bloom cycle. In the fall, bougainvillea should be brought inside and placed in a window with high light for indoor flowering to brighten the winter months. The Rivers family brought this into the greenhouse many years ago and look how it has grown into a bougainvillea tree. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.