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Penny Carnathan

Penny’s a Nurture And Hold (NAH): Nah, I won’t pull that out yet, it’s still got a green shoot. She likes dragonflies, lady bugs and new stuff only after weeding, pruning and fertilizing.

Kim Franke-Folstad

Kim’s a Want It Now (WIN): Everything pretty, everything now. She will resort to full-spectrum insecticides in desperate situations, and believes it’s her duty and right to buy new plants every weekend.

Both advocate Plant Choice (SOMEthing besides crotons. Please!), lots of color and low maintenance. We don’t agree on everything, but we’re smart enough to learn from each other - and from you.

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Starting from scratch with bougainvillea battle

Posted Mar 8, 2010 by Kim Franke-Folstad

Updated Mar 8, 2010 at 05:18 PM

He can’t say I didn’t warn him.

When I asked my husband to trim the bougainvillea on Saturday, he didn’t hesitate to get up on the ladder and start hacking away.

He didn’t seem to notice that the bougainvillea was hacking back.

“You might want to change into a long-sleeve shirt,” I said, having done battle with the bougie many times before.

But he didn’t want to take the time. And so …


That’s what he looks like today. Ouch.

Right after he finished, Rick ran up to Lowe’s to get me several bags of mulch (yes, he really is a great husband), and two customers kidded him about the scratches. They recognized the culprit right away—he didn’t even have to tell them it was a bougainvillea.

One guy suggested he try welders gloves because they have a long protective cuff, or gauntlet. I started looking online and came across these Bionic Rose Gauntlet gloves for both men and women at


They’re on sale right now for $38 (usually $45). That’s kind of pricey, I know, but come on. Look at those arms!


Reader Comments

Por (Susan Gillespie) on March 08, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I sympathize with your hubby, Kim. I’ve had my own battles with my bougie. My brother has a lawn service and once he acquired one of those long handle chain saws my bougie trimming days were over. A branch never touches his arms and it’s done in no time. They even take the branches to the corner for me.

My bougainvillea looks pretty dead. There’s not a green thing on it. Was there a lot of green on yours?

Those gloves are great though and would work for all the other branch trimming that needs done. We certainly have a lot of it this year. And if you have an aloe plant it will heal up those scratches nicely.

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Por (kgardens) on March 09, 2010 (Suggest removal)

You do have a good husband to do battle with your boug.  I applaud him.  Those scratches look serious.  Susan’s advice about aloe sounds good.  I have an aloe but never thought about using some on my gardening wounds.  Duh!

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Por (Chip) on March 09, 2010 (Suggest removal)

It takes a bit of practice to trim a bougainvillea with out a trip to the emergency room. gloves and a long sleeve shirt/jacket helps. I had to move one and that was no picnic either….“Chip”

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 09, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I do have an aloe plant, and I didn’t even think about using it for this! Great suggestion, Susan.

We have several bougainvilleas, and they are all at different stages of recovery. The one Rick worked on Saturday is the oldest and biggest—and it is mostly brown right now. Seems like it will be dropping leaves FOREVER. But it has some green right up against the house.

I have a couple of bougies that are covered with new little leaves, a couple that are clinging to old growth, and a couple that are bare as can be.

I can’t wait for them all to come back!

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 10, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Well, this is one way to make sure Rick wears a nice long-sleeve shirt or a jacket to the Gordon Lightfoot concert tonight. He won’t want people to stare at his nasty arms!

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Por (Chip) on March 11, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I have a love/hate thing with bougainvilleas and I found myself almost wanting the big one I moved to just die so I would never have to trim the beast again. But new growth is coming up so It will live It did it’s job though we planted it under our Daughter’s widow when she was teen aged and never had anyone ever try to sneak through that window.

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 11, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I just read a story in a magazine by a woman who finally tackled a rose that was growing out of control on a garden trellis. Reminded me a lot of of the bougainvillea experience.

When we first started the blog, we put up pictures of our gardens, and I had beautiful bougainvilleas crawling up both sides of the trellis by my pool.

It was a wooden trellis, and when it started to rot, we had to replace it. We tried to save the bougies, but they were so intertwined, we couldn’t do it without life-threatening blood loss.

Longtime FODs will remember this sad, sad tale. (Sniff.) But I still have plenty of bougies to butt heads with.

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Por (Dave C) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I’m actually curious about planting bougainvilleas along the rear fence. Ugly view of a dying oak.

Anyone know where I can find the red ones?

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Por (Dave C) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Ugh. Everything dies except the Meyer Lemon tree. Even taller established trees didn’t escape. My back yard looks like a Tim Burton movie.

I’ll get to Greenfest on the Sunday. There should still be some good stuff, right?

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I can’t wait for my crape myrtles to bloom—and my bottle brush tree is covered with buds. I’ll definitely be looking for another bottle brush at GreenFest.

I got mine from our favorite vendor, George Griepenburg, who will be at GreenFest this year! Penny says there will be about 10 new vendors this year.

I’ve had a hard time finding true red bougainvilleas. They look red to me when I buy them, but then tend to go dark pink. But they do sell them at Lowe’s. And I’m sure they’ll have them at GreenFest, or at the USF plant sale in April.

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Por (kgardens) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

I am in the market for a bottlebrush tree.  Thanks Kim, for mentioning that you got one at GreenFest and from which vendor.  How can I recognize your favorite vendor’s spot?  Will there be maps? Kay

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Actually, I got the bottlebrush tree at a USF sale, and it came from George. He doesn’t usually do GreenFest, but we heard he will be there this year.

You’ll know his stuff because he’s the guy who puts the best plant labels on his stuff. He gives you the name of the plant, a little history and info on how to care for each plant. We love him!

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Por (Susan Gillespie) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

The bottlebrush seems to be the desired plant this year. With Kim’s recommendation and how it survived the cold I’ll be looking for one too. But unfortunately it will be taking the place of my second attempt at a Meyer Lemon tree. The cold got them and, as much as I love lemon’s, I am giving up.I’ll just have to get my lemons in a big bag at Costco.

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Por (Kim Franke-Folstad) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Susan—My lemon tree made it—and has buds on it for a new crop.

You KNOW how long it takes those suckers to grow and get ripe, but when they’re ready, I will make sure you get a bunch.

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Por (Susan Gillespie) on March 16, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Thanks Kim. I’ll look forward to that. There’s nothing like fresh from the tree.

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Por (kgardens) on March 17, 2010 (Suggest removal)

Thanks Penny and Kim for the description of George with the great plant labels and old Florida plants.  That’s just as good as a map!  If he doesn’t make it to GreenFest I’ll at least have a good time looking for him.  From your description I think I have bought some plants from him at USF.

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Por (Susan Gillespie) on March 17, 2010 (Suggest removal)

There truly is something to the statement “right plant, right place”. That was my second Meyer Lemon—-in the same spot—-so I give up. My weird micro climate doesn’t want citrus.

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