A bougainvillea without the proper care
A bougainvillea grown with the proper care
- In our plant zone, bougainvillea plants are typically grown in container and hanging baskets. They are not winter hardy if planted in the ground or left outside in pots here in Waco.
- Bougainvilleas need a good quick draining potting soil. I put in a little pine bark mulch to my potting soil, if is not in the mix. I like a mix with peat moss, pine bark mulch, & perlite.
- Make sure your container has plenty of holes for good drainage. Do not use saucers. Saucers capture water, helping maintain moisture in the soil.
- Plant in full sun. You may have to move your plant several times before you find just the right spot where your plant produces the most blooms. From my observations, I have found the bougainvilleas that bloom the most are on driveways.
- Bougainvillea plants do not bind the soil like most plants. You must handle with care when transplanting being careful not to distrub the root ball. I usually advise my customers on leaving the plant in the container they purchase the plant in and setting it in the container of their choice. If I can tell it is root-bound in the container they are buying, then it is okay to transplant. Otherwise, the dirt normally will fall from the plant, resulting in a dead or damaged plant.
- Bougainvillea roots like to be crowded in a pot. This plant blooms better when it is root-bound. If you plant it in the ground, you will need to cut the roots back every so often to make it crowded.
- Clay containers are a good choice. The clay pots tend to stay drier, thus stressing the plant.
- Bougainvilleas like to be on the dry side. Allow your soil to dry to touch between waterings. Watering a bougainvillea to often will result in a lot of green foilage and very little flowers. This plant comes from a hot humid climate and is happiest in this environment. I have found when we have a summer with more humidity than normal my bougainvilleas bloom longer. When we don't have as much humidity my bougainvilleas cycle, blooming about 6 weeks then resting another 6 weeks from blooming. Two summers ago my bougainvillea bloomed constantly. In the summer, we water every other day. We let our leaves wither or flag a little. You will need to inspect your plant to decide what watering schedule is best for your plant. We get a lot of wind at Greenlife and reflected heat from the concrete that our plants grow on, thus drying them out faster. Every growing site is different.
- Bougainvilleas that are pruned back, bloom more. The more you cut back the more blooms you will have. To the horror of my staff, I prune our bougainvilleas back 75% when I move them to the greenhouse for the winter. They think I am a little scissor happy. At this time, I also remove all the leaves to protect them from aphids and mealy bugs.
- Bougainvilleas bloom on new growth, try to pinch back often to create new growing points.
- On pruning, don't prune to often, constant pruning to keep a plant from getting to large can inhibit blooming. The ideal time to prune or pinch back is when they finish blooming.
- When the night temperatures are 60 degrees or more move out of the greenhouse.
- Bougainvilleas are 'heavy' feeders. At the beginning of each season, use a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. Bougainvillea foods usually have have higher number in nitrogen. This will provide nourishment to help your plant become strong and healthy. When the vine starts to bloom, switch to a hibiscus food. Hibiscus food has a higher last number which is your potassium. Make sure you feed the right amount. Don't skimp and don't overfertilize. When you apply your fertilize make sure your soil is moist. If you apply fertilizer to a dry plant you run the risk of burning your roots and killing the plant.
Bougainvilleas going into the greenhouse for the winter. Trimmed back 75% and defoileated
Bougainvilleas do not like temperatures below 30 degrees. If we have high winds or heavy rains, the flowers will fall off. I try to protect mine.
Our Bougainvillea growers greenhouse. He is the best!
Brett and our grower loading the truck today with our new bougainvillea's and Hibiscus