Bougainvillea Problems

aircad3(10a)February 20, 2013

I bought a beautiful bougainvillea plant a few months ago (Thanksgiving) and foolishly I didn't do any research on the plant before I re-potted it. The pot I chose was 2-3 inches bigger than the nursery pot it came in. Not too long after that all of the blooms began to fall off followed by the leaves. I then did some research and realized that bougainvilleas like to be root bound and most like the pot I bought was too big. I figured it would be more traumatic to replant it again so I left it as it was and hoped for the best.

It's now been a few months and some of the leaves have begun to grow back but not very many. What's most surprising is that I have 2 branches of new growth that are completely covered in leaves and blooms.

Did I kill off part of my plant? Is there anything I can do to get the mature branches to produce again?

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Bougainvilleas are notorious for hating root disturbance and can sometimes take a long time to recover. I'd say in the case of your plant it was probably a combination of factors.
When you buy them in flower they are often being sold at absolute peak condition, but also may have been "forced" into flowering by adjustment of growing conditions like light and fertilizer, conditions which the buyer can't meet.
The transplant may have set it back, combined with new growing conditions, and the fact that the new top-up soil may have been enriched with slow-release fertilizer, or simply "different" than what it was growing in.
I would think that it has simply been settling in and probably putting its strength into the root system rather than new growth and flowering. So I would not worry about having "overpotted" it, you will likely be grateful later that you did it.
I would prune back the leafless branches a bit and see if you can promote some new growth there.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 1:38AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Bougs are known to grow like crazy but not make many or any flowers if fertilized. Agree, If some of the branches are naked/dead, you can cut them off. Appreciates drying out, needs sun alllllll day.

This is a huge plant to try to keep in a pot, and should be hardy where you are.

I think you're right about it being busy growing roots, Alisonoz. More roots are necessary to support more foliage and flowers.
Any pics?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:29PM
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That makes me feel a lot better. I guess I'll just keep playing the waiting game. I haven't been fertilizing my plant but should I start doing that? Will that help root growth?

I've included a photo. You can see on the right of the picture the new branches (with the purple flowers)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 5:55PM
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Probably doesn't need fertilization, they do fine with minimal fert and poor soil. I got one that's still in the pot. The place I want to put it used to be a compost pile, and I'm concerned that the soil will be too rich for it.

You can plant it in the ground, like Purple said. They're hardy here in Houston, and get quite large. If you haven't already moved, it, put it in an area that gets a lot of sun. It looks healthy to me, just needs more leaves and I'm sure it will leaf out if it hasn't already.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 1:22PM
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They're hardy here in NW Florida, zone 8b, too - lots of people have huge ones in their yards - just beautiful specimens, but the thorns are lethal!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:53PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I used to believe that was true about them not liking their roots disturbed. Then one year I decided to take them out of their pots for the growing season an plant them in the ground. They did great. That fall I dug them all up cut them back severely (20ft off the vines in some cases) and put them all in the gh overwinter. They will pout and drop leaves. The trick is to make sure they barely get any water all winter. By spring they are already growing back and often blooming. I did this for several years w many diff. varieties. Havent lost one doing it that way.

I think you prob overwatered it unintentionally when you repotted it. More die from overwatering than anything else in pots.

This post was edited by sultry_jasmine_night on Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 8:18

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:16AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Not really too sure on the 'too much fertilzer and not blooming' thing either...composted chicken manure and rabbit poo goes into every hole I dig. Plus I fertilize everything equally now whether it is brugmansia or bougies. The only thing I dont fertilize a lot is some types of cactus.
My bougies "bloom" like mad. The colored bracts arent flowers anyways, they are basically colored leaves. The true flowers are tiny and i get plenty of those too.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:29AM
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I have to take my bougainvilleas inside of my house and thorns will be really a problem.
Can I clip they off? Maybe not all if them but at least at the end of sticking out branches?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I've clipped the thorns before, leaving little nubs that were much less dangerous, and those stems didn't seem to mind. Good luck this winter!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2014 at 9:58AM
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