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Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea'

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea'
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    Plant And Garden Secrets

Bougainvillea, a tropical vining shrub known for its vibrant and stunning flower-like bracts, has become a symbol of beauty in many landscapes around the world. Among the numerous varieties of this captivating plant, Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' stands out with its unique charm.

Named after the Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Kea, this particular variety offers a rare and delicate shade of white that contrasts sharply with the more common hot pinks and purples typically associated with bougainvillea. It evokes an elegance and serenity reminiscent of snow-capped peaks, capturing the hearts of garden enthusiasts and professionals alike.

The Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' not only enchants with its appearance but also intrigues with its adaptability and resilience. Whether you are a seasoned gardener looking to diversify your tropical garden or a beginner intrigued by the mystique of this snowy white bougainvillea, the journey with Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' promises to be rewarding.

In this blog, we will explore everything you need to know about Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea', from its unique characteristics to planting techniques, care, and design possibilities. Join us as we delve into the world of this extraordinary variety and learn how to make it a stunning feature in your garden.

Description of Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea'

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is a captivating variety of bougainvillea that has managed to carve a unique niche among gardening enthusiasts. Here, we'll explore its aesthetic features, growth habits, and the origin that makes it a special addition to any garden landscape.


Unlike the vibrant shades of pink, purple, or red commonly found in other bougainvillea varieties, 'Mauna Kea' is adorned with creamy white bracts that surround the tiny, tubular yellow flowers. These white bracts create a stunning contrast with the lush green leaves, giving the plant a graceful and ethereal look.

Growth Habit

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is a vigorous grower, often reaching heights of 10 to 15 feet. It's known for its climbing and trailing habits, making it an ideal choice for trellises, arbors, or hanging pots. The plant's woody vines and thorny stems provide structural support as it grows, adding to its charm and character.

Region of Origin

This particular variety pays tribute to its Hawaiian namesake, Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano known for its snow-capped peaks. The pristine white bracts of Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' evoke the tranquility and beauty of the Hawaiian landscape, bringing a touch of tropical elegance to gardens beyond the islands.

Seasonal Changes

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' exhibits its dazzling white bracts mostly during the warmer months, typically from late spring to early fall. During this flowering season, the plant becomes a focal point, drawing attention with its unique coloration.

Unique Characteristics

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' stands out not only for its color but also its adaptability. It thrives in various soil types and is relatively drought-tolerant, making it a versatile option for different garden settings.

The Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is more than just a beautiful plant; it's a symbol of elegance, adaptability, and the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii. Whether used as a standalone feature or woven into a broader garden tapestry, this unique variety offers endless possibilities for creativity and enjoyment in the garden.

Growing Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea'

Growing Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' can be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for gardeners at all levels. This section will guide you through the essential aspects of planting and nurturing this exquisite variety, ensuring that it thrives and blooms to its full potential.

Site Selection

Finding the right spot for your Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is crucial. Look for a location with full sun exposure, as this variety thrives in sunlight. A place that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily will promote vibrant blooming.

Soil Preparation

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is adaptable to various soil types but prefers well-draining soil. Mixing organic matter or compost into the soil can enhance its structure and provide essential nutrients. A slightly acidic to neutral pH (5.5-7.0) is ideal.


  1. Dig the Hole: The hole should be twice as wide and equal in depth to the root ball.
  2. Place the Plant: Gently place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
  3. Backfill with Soil: Fill in the hole with the prepared soil, pressing down gently to eliminate air pockets.
  4. Water Thoroughly: Water the plant well to settle the soil around the roots.


This variety is relatively drought-tolerant but requires regular watering during the first few weeks after planting. Once established, watering can be reduced. Always allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent root rot.


A balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, applied every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, will support healthy growth and flowering. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and methods.


Pruning can be done to shape the plant or encourage more blooms. Trim the tips and remove any dead or damaged branches during late winter or early spring. Be cautious of the thorns while pruning.

Pest and Disease Management

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. Regularly inspect for signs of aphids, scale, or fungal infections and treat with appropriate measures if necessary.

Growing Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' is an engaging and rewarding venture. By understanding its needs and providing the right conditions, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this plant season after season. Its resilient nature and distinctive appearance make it a worthwhile addition to gardens in various climates and settings.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are pivotal to keeping Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' healthy and vibrant. This section will guide you through the vital practices to help this beautiful variety thrive, from soil nourishment to pest control.

Soil Nourishment

Though adaptable to various soil types, 'Mauna Kea' benefits from enriched soil. Regularly adding organic compost or a slow-release fertilizer can provide vital nutrients. Ensuring well-drained soil will prevent root diseases.

Watering Needs

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' has moderate watering needs. Watering deeply once a week is usually sufficient, except during hot, dry spells. Allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering again, as over-watering can lead to root rot.


A 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant can help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Avoid piling the mulch directly against the stem to prevent rot.

Pruning Practices

Regular pruning will shape the plant and encourage more prolific blooming. Prune in late winter or early spring to remove dead or weak branches and shape the plant. Always use clean, sharp tools to make clean cuts.

Pest and Disease Control

Inspect the plant regularly for common pests like aphids or mealybugs and fungal infections. Neem oil or insecticidal soap can be effective treatments. Proper watering and spacing can prevent most diseases.

Winter Care

In cooler climates where frost is a concern, 'Mauna Kea' may need winter protection. Moving potted plants indoors or covering ground-planted specimens with frost cloth can help. Reduce watering in winter to avoid root diseases.

Special Considerations

'Mauna Kea' has thorns, so take care when handling. It can be sensitive to over-fertilizing, so follow the guidelines on your chosen fertilizer product, and don't be overly generous.

The care and maintenance of Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' are straightforward and can be managed with regular attention and a basic understanding of the plant's needs. By focusing on these essential aspects, you can enjoy the lush growth and stunning white blossoms of this unique variety for years to come. The effort invested in caring for 'Mauna Kea' is rewarded with an eye-catching display that adds a tropical flair to any garden setting.

Uses in Landscape Design

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea,' with its striking white flowers and lush green foliage, offers a wealth of opportunities for landscape design. This versatile plant can be a stunning addition to various garden styles and settings. Here, we'll explore the different ways you can incorporate 'Mauna Kea' into your landscape.

As a Focal Point

With its unique appearance, 'Mauna Kea' can serve as a centerpiece in garden designs. Planting it in a prominent location will draw attention and create a visual anchor, enhancing the overall appeal of the space.

Along Borders and Pathways

The cascading branches of 'Mauna Kea' make it suitable for lining borders and pathways. Planting it along walkways can create a soft, inviting path, guiding visitors through the garden with an array of white blossoms.

As a Climbing Vine

Trained to grow on trellises, pergolas, or fences, 'Mauna Kea' can act as an attractive climbing vine. Its vigorous growth and trailing habit make it perfect for covering vertical surfaces, adding height and interest to the garden.

Container Gardening

For those with limited space or wanting to add accents to patios and balconies, 'Mauna Kea' can thrive in containers. Using decorative pots allows you to move the plant around, creating dynamic and flexible design options.

Mixed Planting

Incorporating 'Mauna Kea' with other plants in flower beds or borders creates depth and texture. Its white flowers complement various color schemes, and its foliage contrasts well with other ornamental plants.

Creating Privacy Screens

When grown densely along fences or walls, 'Mauna Kea' can provide an effective natural privacy screen. Its thick growth habit and sprawling branches create a visual barrier, enhancing seclusion in your outdoor space.

Coastal Landscaping

With its tolerance to salty air and wind, 'Mauna Kea' is an excellent choice for coastal gardens. Its resilience makes it an attractive option for landscapes exposed to challenging seaside conditions.

Eco-Friendly Landscaping

Being drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, 'Mauna Kea' is suitable for eco-friendly or xeriscape designs. It provides visual appeal without demanding excessive water or care, aligning with sustainable gardening practices.

Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' offers extensive possibilities in landscape design, catering to various tastes and requirements. Whether you desire an eye-catching focal point or a subtle complement to existing plants, its versatility and charm make it an exciting addition to any garden theme. The ways in which 'Mauna Kea' can enhance a landscape are as multifaceted as the plant itself, reflecting creativity and harmony in design.

Propagation Methods

Propagating Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' can be an exciting and rewarding gardening adventure. By propagating this lovely variety, you can multiply its presence in your garden or share it with fellow plant enthusiasts. Here's a guide to the different propagation methods suitable for 'Mauna Kea':

Seed Propagation

While it's possible to propagate Bougainvillea from seeds, it's a more complex and less common method. Here's how:

  1. Collect Seeds: Obtain fresh seeds from a mature 'Mauna Kea' plant or purchase them from a reputable supplier.
  2. Prepare Soil: Use a seed-starting mix, ensuring good drainage.
  3. Sow Seeds: Plant the seeds just below the surface, spacing them adequately.
  4. Provide Warmth: Maintain a warm temperature, ideally between 70-75°F.
  5. Monitor Growth: Keep the soil moist but not soggy and expect germination in 30-45 days.

Stem Cuttings

Propagating from stem cuttings is the most common method for Bougainvillea, including 'Mauna Kea'. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select Healthy Cuttings: Choose a healthy, disease-free stem that's at least 6 inches long, with several leaves.
  2. Prepare the Cutting: Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few at the tip. Make a clean cut at a 45° angle below a node.
  3. Use Rooting Hormone (Optional): Dip the cut end in rooting hormone to encourage root development.
  4. Plant the Cutting: Place the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil mix, burying about 2-3 inches of the stem.
  5. Provide the Right Conditions: Keep the cutting in a bright but indirect light location and maintain a humid environment.
  6. Monitor Growth: Water sparingly to keep the soil slightly moist. Rooting typically occurs within 4-8 weeks.

Air Layering

Air layering is another method to propagate 'Mauna Kea', especially for larger branches:

  1. Select a Branch: Choose a healthy branch and make a 1-2 inch upward cut about a third through the stem.
  2. Apply Rooting Hormone: If available, apply rooting hormone to the cut.
  3. Wrap with Moist Media: Surround the cut with moist sphagnum moss, wrapping it with plastic wrap to hold in place.
  4. Secure with Ties: Use string or twist ties to secure the wrap.
  5. Wait for Roots: Monitor the cut area, and once roots appear, cut the branch below the rooted area.
  6. Plant: Transplant the rooted cutting into a pot with proper soil or directly into the ground.

Propagation of Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' offers several methods, each with its own set of instructions and considerations. While stem cuttings are typically the most accessible method, seed propagation and air layering also provide unique opportunities. By understanding these different techniques, gardeners can explore various ways to expand their collection of this beautiful and distinctive variety of Bougainvillea.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

Growing Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' can be an enriching experience, but like all gardening endeavors, it may present some challenges. This section outlines common problems you might encounter while cultivating 'Mauna Kea' and offers practical solutions.


Challenge: Aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs may attack 'Mauna Kea', weakening the plant.

Solution: Monitor the plant regularly for signs of infestation. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil sprays, and encourage natural predators like ladybugs.


Challenge: Fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot can affect 'Mauna Kea'.

Solution: Maintain good air circulation and avoid overhead watering. Apply fungicides if needed, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Poor Flowering

Challenge: 'Mauna Kea' may fail to bloom or produce fewer flowers.

Solution: Ensure adequate sunlight, as Bougainvillea requires full sun to bloom. Avoid over-fertilizing with high nitrogen fertilizers, which can promote leaf growth over blooms.

Leggy Growth

Challenge: The plant might exhibit weak, elongated stems with sparse foliage.

Solution: Prune back the leggy growth to promote bushier development. Ensure sufficient light exposure, as inadequate light can lead to leggy growth.

Watering Issues

Challenge: Overwatering or underwatering can lead to root rot or drought stress.

Solution: Water 'Mauna Kea' thoroughly but allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogging.

Frost Damage

Challenge: 'Mauna Kea' is sensitive to frost, which can cause damage or kill the plant.

Solution: Plant in a protected location or bring potted plants indoors during freezing temperatures. Utilize frost cloths or blankets for added protection.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Challenge: Yellowing leaves or slow growth may indicate nutrient imbalances.

Solution: Conduct a soil test to identify deficiencies. Apply a balanced fertilizer or specific nutrients as needed, according to the soil test results.

While growing Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' presents its set of challenges, understanding these common issues and their corresponding solutions empowers gardeners to cultivate healthy and vibrant plants. Regular monitoring, proper care, and timely interventions can mitigate most problems, allowing 'Mauna Kea' to thrive. Embracing these challenges as opportunities for learning and growth enhances the joy and satisfaction derived from gardening.


Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea', with its captivating beauty and unique features, is more than just a garden plant; it's a testament to the marvels of nature and the joys of gardening. From understanding its distinctive characteristics to mastering the techniques of growing, caring, propagating, and overcoming challenges, cultivating 'Mauna Kea' is a journey filled with learning and discovery.

Whether you're an avid gardener seeking to add this exotic variety to your collection or a beginner attracted by its charm, 'Mauna Kea' offers a fulfilling and engaging experience. Its vibrant blooms, robust growth, and versatile applications in landscape design make it an attractive addition to gardens, patios, and indoor spaces alike.

The guidelines provided in this article aim to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to grow and enjoy Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' successfully. By embracing the challenges and celebrating the achievements, you can nurture 'Mauna Kea' into a thriving and spectacular garden centerpiece.

May your journey with Bougainvillea 'Mauna Kea' be filled with blossoms of joy, colors of passion, and the sweet fragrance of success. Happy gardening!