Bougainvillea is one of the most beautiful plants out there. You may have coveted one for years – so why not bite the bullet and learn how to care for Bougainvillea!
What You'll Learn Today
How Often To Water Bougainvillea?
Bougainvillea don’t like to be over watered – in fact, too much water can cause them health issues such as root rot and leaf drop.
When you have young, new plants you should water them regularly until they are established, to give them the best start in life.
With an older, established plant whose stem is more like a trunk, you will only need to water every few weeks.
Common sense should be used, of course, and if you are in the middle of a prolonged drought and really hot weather, you may need to water more often.
What To Feed Bougainvillea?
Bougainvillea is actually a fairly hardy plant, and one that doesn’t need too much in the way of nutrients – it is good at surviving in poor soil conditions.
Too much fertilizer can actually harm the beauty of your Bougainvillea, as it can encourage growth of the leaves rather than the flowers.
If you feel your Bougainvillea needs a boost, you can feed it some specific Bougainvillea feed (available at most garden stores), or you can make your own!
A well balanced fertilizer that contains a mixture of the things that plants need is all your Bougainvillea should need.
The best is a slow release fertilizer, which won’t give your plant too much Nitrogen, and will support its general health.
You won’t need to feed your Bougainvillea too often; around once a week in the winter, and give it a break in the summer.
Younger plants will need more support than older, more established blooms, so you can ease off on the feeding once your Bougainvillea is well grown and surviving by itself.
If you are looking for some great advice on how to care for Bougainvillea, here is an article from the RHS.
How To Prune Bougainvillea?
Start by making sure you have the right protective gear – thick gloves and eye protection are a great idea, no matter what you’re pruning.
Once you’re ready, make a start by removing any diseased or dead parts of the plant – these will be dry, papery and usually a brown color.
Next, trim away the old wood, and the large branches as these can prevent sunlight getting to the rest of the plant.
Bougainvillea only flower on new wood, so by pruning away the old you are encouraging the best flowering for your Bougainvillea.
As you will be pruning after flowering, it should be easy to prune back the long growth with the bracts on, to about half its length. This can even encourage a second flowering!
If you want to, you can prune your Bougainvillea into different shapes – they don’t take too well to being forced into too small a position, but they can be trained with a little careful pruning.
When To Prune Bougainvillea
All plants like a bit of a hair cut every now and then, and Bougainvillea is no exception.
Pruning can remove stray stems that are not contributing to the plant, and can help it be the best shape for your garden.
A decent prune can also encourage new growth, as long as you do it at the right time it should really help your Bougainvillea live its best life!
The best time to prune is after flowering. If you prune before, you run the risk of damaging your Bougainvillea and perhaps even preventing next year’s flowering.
Here is a great video telling us how to prune Bougainvillea; this is great for those of us who aren’t the best at pruning and need step by step instructions!
How To Protect Bougainvillea From Frost
Bougainvillea, although it is a relatively hardy plant that can survive well in a lot of conditions, will not tolerate frost or long periods of cold weather.
Older, more established plants will cope better than their younger counterparts, but even an older Bougainvillea will be very uncomfortable in cold weather.
They are tricky; they may seem fine after the first frost, but give it a few days and you are likely to n3otice leaf drop and decline, and you may lose your precious plant. If you protect it well when bad weather is threatened, you may be able to save it.
- If you know that cold weather is coming, water your plant well in the days before (but don’t over water and leave it soggy!)
- Spread a good layer of mulch around the plant. This can help to keep the roots warm.
- Make a shelter for it, using stakes and a sheet of plastic or a blanket, to cover your plant so that it doesn’t get frost bitten.
- If you live in an area that regularly freezes, you should limit your Bougainvillea growth to pots, so that you can easily bring them indoors if a freeze is threatened.
How To Care For Bougainvillea Plants In Winter
Bougainvillea, used as it is to warm temperatures, will really struggle if the temperature reaches below freezing. Even a day or two of these temperatures can seriously damage your plant.
- If you live in a place that has long winters, or you know that the mercury is going to drop for long periods of time, it may be worth keeping your Bougainvillea in pots.
- Make sure you water your plants well before the winter approaches. This means they will be in the best physical shape and able to survive better.
- Avoid feeding your Bougainvillea in the winter, even if you feel that giving it some more nutrients might help it survive- this can actually encourage the plant to grow more, when it should be conserving its strength.
- If at all possible, take your Bougainvillea plants indoors over the harshest of the winter months.
- If they are in pots then this is just a case of moving them inside, or to a greenhouse, but if they are established in the ground then it is best to avoid digging them up as this can stress them more.
- You can mulch the ground fleece, or place fleece around the roots of your plants, to keep the soil warm and hopefully keep the roots safe.
- Placing a warm “cage” over your sensitive Bougainvillea can also help you to keep the plant protected from the worst of the weather.
Bougainvillea Key Facts
|Scientific Name||Bougainvillea Spectabilis|
|Light Requirements||Minimum 6 hours direct sunlight|
|Soil Requirements||Light, well draining, acidic|
|Temperature Requirements||Temperatures must be kept over 50 degrees F|
|Water Requirements||Established plants need very little water; weekly is plenty|
|Fertilizer Requirements||Half strength balanced fertilizer twice per year|
|Bloom Time||Throughout summer|
|Pests||Aphids, Spider Mites, Mealybug, Bougainvillea Looper Moth|
|Size||Up to 15 feet|