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What is Bouvardia?

By Casey Kennedy
Updated May 16, 2024
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Bouvardia is a plant genus that consists of about 30 species that are native to America and part of the Rubiaceae family. The plant can be found in the US states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Other species can also be found in Canada and parts of Europe. This flowering shrub is also known as firecracker bush, trumpetellia and hummingbird flower.

The bouvardia shrub grows from 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91.4 cm) in height and has a 36-inch (91.4 cm) spread. It is considered a deciduous perennial shrub since it loses its small, narrow leaves each winter. In late summer to early winter, it produces fragrant blooms that may be reddish-orange, red, pink, or even white in color. These tubular-shaped flowers are a favorite of bees, butterflies and birds.

Even though bouvardia is a sun-loving plant, it may be grown in an area of partial shade. Ideally, however, it should be planted in full to partial sun for maximum growth potential. It does well in a sandy loam or clay-type soil that is well-drained and slightly acidic or neutral. Bouvardia is considered drought-tolerant and is recommended for xeriscaping, which is a type of landscaping that does not need supplemental irrigation. In the US, bouvardia is recommended by the US Department of Agriculture for hardiness zones 9a to 11, which indicate the minimum outdoor temperatures at which the plant can grow.

Although bouvardia has been used in outdoor landscaping for many years, it was first introduced in the US as a houseplant. The Bouvardia x domestica was first produced in Canada, but this species of flower actually originated in France in the late 1700s. It was named after Charles Bouvard, who was the superintendent of the Royal Gardens in the city of Paris. This plant was virtually forgotten from the 1800s to about 1990, when a breeder in Holland began developing a dwarfed version of it. In 1997, it was produced for use as a houseplant.

When grown as an indoor houseplant, bouvardia requires a sunny location and moist soil. It should generally be watered about a twice a week, and its soil should never be allowed to become dry. The indoor temperatures should remain at about 64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 degrees Celsius) for optimum growing conditions.

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