Bougainvillea is a rather colorful vine native to tropical areas which is also grown abundantly in Southern California (and probably Florida, but I've never been there). It is charactarized by its vibrantly colored 'flowers' (which are actually leaf bracts), its shrubby vine form, and its brutally sharp thorns. These are popular border plants in areas without frost, and if planted in warm, south-facing areas, they can survive some mild freezes. Also, they can be left in a pot and moved inside for the winter.

These plants require support for their stems, to keep them from sustaining wind damage. They require water when first planted, but need much less water once established. When planting a bougainvillea, take care not to damage the roots as they are sensitive to disturbance. If the plant is in a plastic pot, consider cutting the pot away from the plant after placing the plant in the hole, then removing the pieces. If your plant takes a lot of frost damage, try pruning it back, it may make a full recovery. There are many, many different varieties of this plant, with flowers anywhere from violet to yellow. I suggest consulting the Sunset Western Garden Book for more information on the varying cultivars.

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