The Popular Purple Bougainvillea that Fits Your Lifestyle
The Bougainvillea Glabra ‘Helen Johnson’ (or Paper Flower) is a small cousin to the larger bougainvilleas, but it still delivers the visual punch and easy care tendencies you love in these plants.
Bougainvillea Glabra ‘Helen Johnson’ is native to South America but has found favor with gardeners worldwide due to its mesmerizing aesthetics and relative ease of care. ‘Helen Johnson’ is a semi-dwarf variety, making it more manageable than other Bougainvillea types. The plant features lush, green foliage and is known for its magnificent floral display. It blooms repeatedly throughout the year in warm climates, with peak blooms in spring and summer.
The flowers of ‘Helen Johnson’ are small, white, and tubular, often overlooked because of the stunning surrounding bracts that come in vibrant shades of pink and copper. The color can vary depending on the amount of sunlight the plant receives.
Caring for you Dwarf Bougainvillea
Best kept small,(about 3 ft or less), it is both salt and cold tolerant – it will thrive in less than ideal conditions.
When you plant it in full sun, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of flowers. The light, papery look of the bracts gives it its name.This plant loves to “take off” and stretch anywhere it can. So, Gardeners…be vigilant and keep it trimmed to your liking.
Bougainvillea Glabra ‘Helen Johnson’ thrives in a location that gets full sun, at least six hours a day. The bright light encourages vibrant and plentiful blooms. While the plant can tolerate partial shade, an optimal display of color may not be achieved without enough sunlight.
When it comes to watering, ‘Helen Johnson’ embodies the typical Bougainvillea preference for a “soak and dry” approach. This means you should water the plant thoroughly and then allow the soil to almost completely dry out before the next watering. The plant’s drought-tolerant nature makes it an excellent choice for warmer climates, as it can withstand periods of dry spells.
The plant prefers well-draining soil and is quite tolerant of different soil types, from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, as long as there is good drainage. Overly wet conditions can lead to root rot, a serious issue for Bougainvilleas. Therefore, whether planting in the ground or in a pot, ensure the water can freely drain away.
‘Helen Johnson’ generally doesn’t require frequent fertilizing. If desired, during the blooming season, a high-potassium, low-nitrogen fertilizer can be applied to promote vibrant bracts and healthy growth. However, over-fertilizing can lead to an abundance of foliage and fewer blooms, so caution is advised.
Pruning and training are key to maintaining the shape and size of your Bougainvillea ‘Helen Johnson’. Pruning is also a way to stimulate blooming since Bougainvillea flowers on new growth. The best time to prune is in early spring before the onset of the blooming cycle.
‘Helen Johnson’ responds well to training and can be shaped into a bush, standard, or trained to climb trellises or pergolas. For potted plants, a regular trim will keep the plant compact and encourage more branching, which leads to more flowers.
Pests and Diseases
Bougainvillea Glabra ‘Helen Johnson’ is generally pest-resistant but may occasionally face issues with aphids, scale, or mealybugs. If pests are present, treat the plant with a gentle insecticidal soap or neem oil. Overwatering and poor drainage are the common causes of diseases in Bougainvilleas, leading to problems like root rot. Keeping a proper watering schedule and ensuring good drainage can prevent these issues.