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The National Flower of Singapore's Roads: Bougainvillea

April 23, 2021

The National Flower of Singapore's Roads: Bougainvillea

Though you might not have known what they’re called, you’ve seen these familiar papery flowers dotting Singapore’s expressways and roads with purple, pink, and magenta blooms as you drive. The name of the flower you’re thinking of is none other than Bougainvillea.

Unlike the typical flowers you buy online, the Bougainvillea is a signature part of the local greenery. But admittedly, most Singaporeans don’t know much about them, even though they pass them by every day.

So if you’ve always had questions about these underrated roadside flowers that are deeply rooted in Singapore’s Garden City heritage, read on to find age-old misconceptions and mysteries finally answered.

Why are they planted all over Singapore?

On 11 May 1967, Lee Kuan Yew introduced the concept of the “Garden City”. Today this vision is realized in our bustling urban green metropolis. But when we think back to our predecessors who’ve implemented this, what made them choose the Bougainvillea? 

First of all, the unique nature of the Bougainvillea is its tenacity to grow. It flourishes in tropical conditions and loves the heat and humidity of Singapore. Not only does this species grow very quickly, but it also requires very little maintenance. So it hardly presents any challenge at all to plant Bougainvillea in masses all over the city’s grid.

Bougainvilleas also inherently have many colourful variants that bloom all year round, regardless of the season. A robust plant with vibrant hues that is also cost-effective, easy to maintain, and affordable? You may not find them as bouquets at the typical florist, but Bougainvilleas checks all of the boxes to be Singapore’s perfect signature roadside flowers.

Are Bougainvilleas edible?

Remember the nostalgic times when you were a kid, and you’d go around Singapore’s street Honeysuckle bushes to taste the nectar of flowers? Well, unlike edible plants like the Honeysuckle, Butterfly PeaLilies, Roses, and Carnations, he sap of the Bougainvilleas are actually mildly poisonous. While fine in small quantities, ingesting large amounts can do harm. So it isn’t the best plant or flower to brew tea with, but the Bougainvillea is still aesthetically the perfect plant to grace and beautify Singapore’s roads.

Can Bougainvillea grow indoors?

The short answer is yes! You can bring Singapore’s signature street plant indoors and root them into hanging pots or suspended baskets on your balcony. Why hoist them? Because the Bougainvillea is a climber that can grow up to 7 meters tall.

Because Bougainvilleas are relatively easy to care for, they don’t need much watering. And if you want to get them to bloom, all this plant needs is lots of sunlight and regular trimming and pruning. 

A floral plant with its guard up in self-defense, you’d also have to watch out for those thorns on the Bougainvilleas because a single scratch can irritate your skin. It’s a beautiful plant to admire from a distance, so growing it up high keeps your children and pets safe.

If it’s too much of a hassle growing plants, try some lovely indoor flower arrangements for your home. There are plenty of floral decor arrangements that can effortlessly make a reality in your home through an affordable flower delivery service to your doorstep.

What do Bougainvilleas mean?

Bougainvilleas symbolize peace or welcome, a perfect display for a warm, inviting family home.

 Bougainvilleas aren’t the only flowers that can have such a serene significance in the household. Other flower bouquets that have the same tranquil connotation are Hydrangeas, Daisies, and Gardenias. These affordable flowers are perfect for decorating your idyllic home in Singapore or a bouquet gift for the upcoming Mother’s Day.

Explore more flowers deeply rooted in Singapore’s heritage

Wondering if there are more common local flora that went under your radar? Stay tuned for more distinctively Singaporean flowers!