Bougainvillea vs Crape Myrtle: What Are The Differences?

Gardening is an art that brings us closer to nature and helps to create a tranquil and vibrant space around our homes. Whether you’re new to gardening or an experienced green thumb, choosing the right plants can make a significant difference in the overall aesthetic of your garden.

This guide offers an in-depth comparison between two popular flowering plants: Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle. Each has its own unique characteristics, benefits, and considerations, making them suitable for various garden styles and climates. Read on to find out which one might be the perfect fit for your garden.

Bougainvillea vs Crape Myrtle: What Are The Differences?

Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle, though both beautiful and vibrant, are distinct in several ways. The first distinction comes from their origin; Bougainvillea is native to South America’s coastal regions, while Crape Myrtle is native to Asia and Australia. This regional variation leads to differences in their resilience and climatic preferences.

Bougainvillea is a climber that uses its thorny, vine-like branches to sprawl across structures or crawl on the ground. Its “flowers” are actually colorful bracts, or specialized leaves, surrounding the plant’s small, white actual flowers. On the other hand, Crape Myrtle is a deciduous tree or shrub with exquisite fluted flowers that appear in clusters and a distinctive, mottled bark that peels off to reveal a smooth, sleek underbark.

The two also differ in their blooming periods. Bougainvillea blooms throughout the year in suitable climates, with the most vibrant display in the warmer months. Conversely, Crape Myrtle produces flowers from late spring through summer, depending on the specific variety.

Which Plant Is Easier To Grow: Bougainvillea Or Crape Myrtle?

The ease of growing either plant depends largely on the specific conditions available. Bougainvillea thrives in full sun and well-drained soil and is drought-tolerant, making it suitable for dry, warm climates. It requires minimal watering and can withstand periods of neglect, yet can become invasive if left unchecked.

Crape Myrtle, on the other hand, also prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It is adaptable to various soil conditions but performs best in well-drained soil. It has a moderate water requirement and is also drought-tolerant. Unlike Bougainvillea, Crape Myrtle is not invasive, making it slightly easier to manage in a garden setting.

Are Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Annuals Or Perennials?

Both Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle are perennial plants. Bougainvillea, if grown in an appropriate climate, can bloom throughout the year and its vines can live for many years. In cooler regions, it’s typically grown as a houseplant and can be brought outside during warmer months.

Crape Myrtle is a deciduous perennial, which means it loses its leaves during the fall and winter, but comes back each spring. This tree or shrub can live for many years, growing more robust and beautiful with each passing year.

Do Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Attract Bees And Butterflies?

Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle are both attractive to various pollinators. Bougainvillea’s vibrant bracts and nectar-rich flowers are a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. However, its actual flowers are not as attractive to bees as they are small and white.

In contrast, Crape Myrtle’s profusion of flowers, rich in nectar and pollen, are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. The tree’s long blooming period ensures a consistent source of food for these pollinators, making it an excellent choice for a pollinator garden.

Which Plant Has More Vibrant Flowers: Bougainvillea Or Crape Myrtle?

When it comes to vibrancy, both plants offer stunning displays. Bougainvillea’s bracts come in a variety of colors including red, purple, orange, yellow, and pink. Their intense coloration and profusion give the appearance of a flower-covered plant when in full bloom.

Crape Myrtle’s flowers, while not as numerous, are no less impressive. They appear in large clusters of frilly flowers in shades of white, pink, red, and purple. The vibrancy of both plants’ flowers is comparable, and the choice would depend on personal preference and the desired aesthetic for the garden.

Can Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Tolerate Hot Temperatures?

Both Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle are highly tolerant of hot temperatures. Bougainvillea, native to tropical and subtropical regions, thrives in heat and is quite drought-tolerant. It requires full sun for best growth and blooming.

Crape Myrtle is also well-suited to hot climates. It’s a staple in many Southern gardens in the United States due to its ability to withstand summer heat. Like Bougainvillea, it also prefers full sun and is reasonably drought-tolerant once established.

What Are The Ideal Growing Conditions For Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle?

Bougainvillea flourishes in full sun and well-drained soil. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy and loamy soils, but it must be well-draining to prevent root rot. It prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH and requires a minimum winter temperature of 10 degrees Celsius to survive.

Crape Myrtle, on the other hand, prefers full sun but can tolerate part shade. It’s adaptable to a wide range of soils, from clay to sandy and loamy, as long as they are well-draining. The plant prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH and is more cold-tolerant than Bougainvillea, with many varieties hardy down to -15 degrees Celsius.

How Tall Do Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Typically Grow?

The size of these plants can vary significantly depending on the specific variety and growing conditions. Bougainvillea, as a climbing vine, can reach heights of 10 to 12 meters if it has support to climb on. Without support, it tends to spread out horizontally.

Crape Myrtle is typically grown as a tree or shrub. Its height can vary from a modest 1 meter for dwarf varieties, up to 9 meters or more for standard types. The size of Crape Myrtle can be controlled to some extent through pruning.

Are Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Prone To Any Specific Diseases Or Pests?

Both plants are generally quite resilient but are not immune to pests and diseases. Bougainvillea can be prone to aphids, caterpillars, and scale insects. It can also suffer from root rot if the soil is not well-draining.

Crape Myrtle can suffer from a fungal disease called Crape Myrtle Bark Scale, which causes a sooty mold to appear on the trunk and branches. It can also be affected by powdery mildew, particularly in humid conditions or when grown in the shade.

Can Bougainvillea And Crape Myrtle Be Grown In Containers?

Yes, both Bougainvillea and Crape Myrtle can be grown in containers, provided they have adequate drainage. Bougainvillea, with its vine-like growth, can be trained to grow in a pot, often with the support of a trellis. It requires a large pot to accommodate its extensive root system and to balance the top-heavy growth.

Crape Myrtle, especially the smaller, shrubby varieties, can be successfully grown in containers. These plants will need to be pruned regularly to maintain their shape and size. Containers offer the advantage of being movable, which is beneficial for protecting the plants during harsh winter conditions.