How to make Bougainvillea bloom

sanaeApril 14, 2008

Hello all, can anybody please help me with the care of Bougainvillea? I purchased a 12" tall potted bougainvillea 1 year ago. I left it outside during winter and frost damaged it, but recently it came back! Now it has so many leaves and looks really healthy. How often should I water and fertilize it during the summer? Thanks.

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minibim(FL z10)

The best care is no care, ignore it, don't water it, don't feed it.

The fact that it looks really healthy and has many leaves now, is testament that you have paid too much attention to it. It should be blooming right now, instead of flushing growth.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 3:10PM
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I have two Bougainvilea in pots I want to plant in the ground, I have heard they do well with lots of sun, balanced fertilizer and a bit of neglect... very light on the trimming, since the color forms on the ends of the growing bracts. Mine have suffered for a couple years from an over-eager BIL with branch loppers, they are now in the "no clip" zone LOL.

Some of the most gorgeous specimens I've seen have been growing all on their own with very little care, but those plants were probably 10 or 20 years old.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 3:22PM
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Bogies bloom best when root bound. So,if they are still in pots, leave them there but cut the whole bottom off the pot. That will force them to bloom early and as they put on size the roots will anchor through the open bottom.

Otherwise you may have to wait until they get very large and root-bind themselves.

Mine do suffer from lack of water though they can take a long dry spell and recover.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:30PM
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Here's a pic. of mine blooming at Christmas, I trained this one as a tree, mine get morning sun, they need sun to bloom, I have 2 more out there under my holly tree, they rarely bloom,not enough sun, but I like the varigated leaves, and I prune often to keep a round bush shape, also I feed mine often with food for acid loving plants.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:46PM
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I have one here that gets absolutely no car and it's under an oak tree. Sure does grow tall up into that oak and will give my riding mower flat tires if I even look at it. I think it flowers once per year though.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 7:21PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

There are certain times of the year you can trim to keep shaped and in bounds, so when they bloom they will be full.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Tropicalfreak....what times of year can you trim to shape? I just bought a new one and planted it over the weekend.

I'm hoping to morph it into what Susieq07 has displayed in her pic. That is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 9:42PM
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Those folks who said just ignore it are right! The less water and fertilizer you give these guys the better. They do love to be in full sun, though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:43AM
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When I researched how to grow Bougainvillea, I read that::
Bougainvillea thrive on neglect. Only water them when their leaves are withering. This was good advice for growing bougainvillea in South Florida on my patio. I have 3 in big pots on my open patio with full sun, and all of my neighbors thank me for the bloomacious (is that a word?) show when they walk past. I do fertilize with Bougain (Home Depot) every so often around the perimeter of the pot, then water down real good when I do this.. I also read, with good results, that when blooms fade, cut back (they look like sticks that will never come back) real good to the perimeter of the big pot. Pretty soon, their small green leaves start coming out (not from watering them - NO!), and soon the splendor is on its way. I have that famous fushia one, but the gorgeous one that stands out as well is my white with pink tinge on the edges one. WOW! I also have a dark purple one that gives me joy as well. Spray lightly with an organic bug/fungi spray if you notice any problems.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:01PM
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I had them in the ground -no blooms. the leaves kept dropping!. I potted some of them up, water and fertilized them. They bloomed. I dont know if it is the water, fertilizer of the change of season that did it. All I can see is that those in pots bloomed and those in ground did not even though they got the same treatment and sun. The ones in the pot are going in ground-pots and all!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 5:23AM
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I heard they thrive on neglect which is how I treat mine; but lately it's lost it's leaves. Idk if I should trim it all the way down or just dig it up. It's looking pretty pathetic. :(

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 10:01PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Here's some basic info from

Here is a link that might be useful: Bougainvillea spp.

This post was edited by carolb_w_fl on Sat, Feb 8, 14 at 14:41

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Everyone is right about the different ways to stress the plant so that it produces flowers. This will work. There are many plants that will produced flowers, or produce cones, like with cycads, when they are stressed, but I've never been a fan of stressing a plant to make them produce productive parts. I like to use different fertilizers as a tool to make my plants do what I want them to.
When you grow a good looking Bougainvillea , you water it and fertilize it with a higher Nitrogen fertilizer to help produce good growth and make it healthy. When you want it to produce flowers, you wait until the last fertilizer application wears off and then, at least I, would use Triple Super Phosphate (0-46-0). Almost guaranteed, new flowers start coming out in about 3 weeks. I've probably installed Bougainvilleas in 100 landscapes and every time a customer asked me this question, and they tried this trick, they would call me and let me know how happy they were that it worked.
This is also a really good trick with semi dwarf azaleas in late July and August. I'd use two applications in late summer and they would start flowering heavily from later in September all the way into May. I'd also supplement them again during the flowering season. Another good application is to get a second batch of daylillies in August and September, or cutting the seed pods off the crepe myrtles and getting a second batch of flowers in September.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:40PM
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