How To Get Bougainvillea To Bloom?

Bougainvillea is a beautiful plant, to be sure – but what you are really looking for is those beautiful blooms, right? How to get Bougainvillea to bloom? Let us count the ways!

When Do Bougainvillea Bloom?

when do bougainvillea bloom

If you are new to Bougainvillea you might not know that the brightly colored “flowers” are actually bracts – the flowers themselves are tiny little white petals inside these bracts.

In colder places, your Bougainvillea will bloom mainly in the summer, and will reward you with its stunning colors when the weather is at its warmest.

In warmer climates, your Bougainvillea can actually have several flowerings a year, though the main “crop” will still be in the warmest months.

In some areas, Bougainvillea will actually bloom a few times through the year, and given the right conditions it can seem to never stop flowering!

It all depends on where you live, and more specifically, where you place your Bougainvillea and how happy it is in its conditions.

With luck, judgement and your geographical location, you can hopefully create a beautifully flowering Bougainvillea, all year round.

Although this video sounds a bit like it’s a robot speaking, this is actually great advice to keep your Bougainvillea blooming for longer:

Why Won’t My Bougainvillea Bloom

There are many reasons a Bougainvillea won’t flower, and thankfully these issues are generally easily sorted!

Too much water

Bougainvillea really do prefer a dry climate, and they won’t tolerate their roots getting waterlogged.

Too much fertilizer

If you are feeding your Bougainvillea too much, it will reward you with lush green foliage, but at the expense of the flowers.

Not enough light

If your Bougainvillea does not receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, it will not be able to create those gorgeous colors.

Not enough pruning

Bougainvillea tend to flower best on new wood, so removing the old, dead wood can help them immensely.

Wrong type of soil

If you have very Alkaline soil, your Bougainvillea won’t perform very well, as they prefer a slightly acid environment.

How To Keep Bougainvillea Blooming

how to keep bougainvillea blooming

Bougainvillea likes a dry, warm climate. If it is not kept warm enough, it will not flower, and may even start to suffer from health problems.

Keep the soil dry. If you are over watering your Bougainvillea it will show its unhappiness by not flowering!

If it is planted out then you only need to water it once every couple of weeks, and if it is in a pot you will need to make sure it is well draining.

Try to not over fertilize your Bougainvillea. Excess fertilizer will encourage leafy growth, but not the pretty flowers that we all rave about.

If your Bougainvillea is kept warm, it should reward you by popping out beautiful flowers. If you live in a cold area, this may mean that it needs to live in a greenhouse.

Although Bougainvillea like a lot of sunlight, long days can cause them issues. It will flower best when the length of the day is less than 12 hours. You can cover them in the evening if your day’s light exceeds the needs of Bougainvillea.

Make a covering using stakes and some dark colored material, but be careful not to smother the delicate leaves and bracts. Also, don’t forget to remove it in the morning!

Giving your Bougainvillea an occasional prune will also help it to flower more. The best time to do this is after a flowering season, or during the cooler months if you live in an area where Bougainvillea flower year round.

Here’s a tip that might sound a little mean. If you want your Bougainvillea to bloom well, try starving it of water. This is a trick employed by professional gardeners, so you’ll be in good company!

If a Bougainvillea thinks that there is a drought coming, it will throw everything at its flowers and bracts, in the hopes that is can gain some last minute pollination and reproduction.

Although you may feel cruel, depriving your favorite plant of water, it won’t actually do it any harm (these plants are naturally arid dwelling beasts), and, it will encourage more of the blooms that we know and love Bougainvillea for.

The soil can play a part in helping your Bougainvillea bloom better, too. Bougainvillea like a slightly acidic soil; anything too alkaline will not benefit them, and can result in fewer blooms and an unhappy plant.

A good article to read when trying to get Bougainvillea to bloom is this one.

How Many Times A Year Does Bougainvillea Bloom?

how many times a year does bougainvillea bloom

In warmer climates, Bougainvillea can, and often will, bloom all year round. Just imagine seeing those beautiful colors for the whole year!

If you live in a colder area and don’t fancy moving countries just to keep your Bougainvillea happy, you may have to content yourself with a shorter flowering season.

In cooler climes, Bougainvillea will bloom in the warmer, summer months. Even though it won’t bloom all year round in these conditions, it will still have a good long flowering season. 

With the right conditions, you can encourage your Bougainvillea to bloom over and over again, and, if you live in warmer areas, it can flower month after month.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For Bougainvillea

Unlike some demanding plants, Bougainvillea does not actually need much feeding. It is used to poor soil, and arid conditions, so it won’t make too many demands!

A complete, balanced fertilizer is the best choice for this particular plant. It can suffer with over fertilization, so it is important that you get the right type.

A fertilizer containing Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium is very important for good growth of Bougainvillea, and you will probably find that you don’t need to feed it all that often.

A well established Bougainvillea shouldn’t need feeding more than twice a year; you can top dress the soil with your chosen balanced fertilizer, and know that this is plenty for this plant.

If you keep your Bougainvillea in a pot, it may need more regular feeding. Go for a gentle, balanced fertilizer, that contains a mix of the most important plant nutrients, and go for 1tbsp in 1 gallon of water, once per month.

4 thoughts on “How To Get Bougainvillea To Bloom?”

  1. I planted a bougainvillea in the Sonoran desert and was told to water liberally this first summer until established. It has been 4 months of watering deep 2x per week. There are just green leaves now so cutting back to 1x a week and temperatures are in the 90s Fahrenheit. Should I cut back more now is it now established?
    Thanks, Molly

    • Watering a Bougainvillea less is actually a great idea – it will produce more and better flowers if its conditions are dry and desert-like. Feel free to water a little less, and just give it a drink if it starts to look thirsty, or the leaves are dropping off.

    • There are a surprising amount of variations in the colors of the Bougainvillea’s flowers (which are actually bracts, not flowers!) They come in white, gold, pink, magenta and an almost purple color. Why not get a few different types and you can have a riot of color in your garden?


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