Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch' (Bougainvillea)


  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0074
  • Botanical Name: Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch'
  • Common Name: Bougainvillea, Paper flower, Hawaiian Torch
  • Cultivar: 'Hawaiian Torch' is discussed in this post
  • Family: Nyctaginaceae
Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch'
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, & Argentina. ('Hawaiian Torch' was cultivated in Hawaii.)

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Shrub-like Vine
    • Texture: Coarse
    • Form: Usually trimmed to a Mound, but truly Weeping/Pendent to Irregular. As a woody vine, branches will protrude out . These are sometimes referred to as "sticks".
    • Height (on average, in landscape use): 3'- 4'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1 - 1:3 
    • Growth Rate:  Medium
    • Landscape Values: Background, Color, Foundation, Framing, Quick Effect, Sculptural Form, Space Division, Specimen
    • Outstanding Quality:  Leaf (Bract) Color, Foliage Characters
    Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch' pruned into a spherical bush
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers and Bracts: Relatively inconspicuous, 0.1"-0.3" wide, cream-white. The colored bracts are the source of visual appeal. The colors of 'Hawaiian Torch' are bright magenta-pink. *Worth noting is that plants of this genus are frequently grouped and referred to together by landscapers. Within the genus, colors include white, peach, salmon, orange, red, magenta, and pink.
    • Fruits: Small inconspicuous achene. 
    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Yellow Green with a slight bronze hue. Mature: Bright Medium Green to Dark Green, and even slight Blue-Green.
    • Foliage Tip: Acuminate
    • Foliage Base:  Obtuse to Attenuate
    • Petiole: 0.25"
    • Stipules: N/A
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
    • Leaf Shape: Ovate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Leathery, glabrous, waxy, somewhat succulent, and seemingly smooth, but with fine hairs.
    • Leaf Special Notes: Leaves are small and compact for the genus. At first glance, the leaves seem to glow by reflecting light. The vibrant bracts and green leaves both have a certain glow to them in the sun that makes the colors stand out in the landscape. A beautiful plant.
    Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch' leaves with flowers further down the "spike" (branch)
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Young green stems mature to a gristle brown-gray with small, frail thorns.
    Bougainvillea spectabilis 'Hawaiian Torch' thorns 
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances:  Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences: Organic, Dry (Mesic), Dry (Xeric), Well-Drained.
      • Tolerances: Moderate Winds, Humidity, Drought
      • Water Requirements: medium moisture, but enjoys dry soils, so do not water too frequently.
      • Notes on Maintenance: This plant is naturally a woody vine and will grow as such, plan for room to sprawl and arch as it grows. The genus is known to have thorns. 'Hawaiian Torch' has small, frail thorns (if any) compared to other Bougainvillea. 
      • Propagation: Cutting
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -1, Low Risk

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