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saving Bougainvillea

Posted by drmeow3 z9 AZ (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 9, 06 at 22:36

Hi all,

Last year I lost my <1-year old white bougainvillea to a combination of frost damage and ignorance on my part. They had no leaves but still green stems but were not coming back. The nursery where I initially tried to purchase replacements (Treeland) said to use "Plant Success Mycorrhizae tablets" which I tried but I think it was too little, too late. They never came back. I finally did replace them. The other bougainvillea on the same wall survived last year and this year but I know white is less hardy.

This year I covered everything with frost cloth (which I hadn't done last year - long story) but the plants are in the same state they were last year (white have nothing, others have varying amounts of new growth). Other than not pruning until after the risk of frost is past and then pruning above the new growth, none of my books says anything about what to do about frost damaged plants. What can I do RIGHT this year to try to save (not manage to kill) these plants?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: saving Bougainvillea

The best thing to do is nothing. The more you ignore them the better they do. Seriously, most problems with bougi's is related to too much pampering and too much water. The soil should be dry before watering and most cultivars like all the sun and heat they can get. 6 to 8 hours minimum for mine. I leave the frost damaged leaves on the plant and let the new growth overtake it before pruning of any dead wood. Most of the time I don't bother pruning until they start to go dormant in the winter. One my plants are in the ground for one year, I turn off the drips to the plants and the only water they get is from rain or sprinkler overspray. With the 140something days without rain, I watered them once just as they were breaking dormancy and not since then. Hope this helps.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

What is your watering plan for these?

And what direction does the wall face?

RE: saving Bougainvillea

> What is your watering plan for these?

Well, right now I'm just letting the rain water them :) (YEAH - WE'VE GOT RAIN)

I had been watering them 1x/month (overwatered them in Feb cause I forgot the drip system was on). I think I didn't water them enough last year because I gave up on them too soon but I'm not sure how much I should water them.

> And what direction does the wall face?

Wall faces north and ever so slightly west so they don't get a lot of direct sunlight in the winter (and not a lot more in the summer).

photo from September

Last year it took FOREVER for the red bougainvillea to come back (in fact, I'd given them up for dead and purchased replacements and saw new growth on the old plants when I got home from the nursery with the new plants :) This year one of those is already leafing out pretty nicely but the other is just showing a few green spots.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

Nice back yard drmeow3. I have an area in my yard with a north wall, facing west. I find the microclimate along the wall to be very cold. Seems to trap a lot of cold air during the winter, and I lost some plants to it. I plan to put in plants that like the cold. My best place for Bougainvillea seems to be the south facing walls. They do like heat and sun.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

What kind of bougainvillea do you have? I have three different kinds and all of mine stayed green and flowered over the winter.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

Jim - thanks for the compliment and the info. None of the plants in the raised bed is more than 3 years old ... I can't wait to see where it goes! I actually have a landscaping plan to turn 1/2 of the yard into Xeriscape but to leave that particular area of grass intact.

Sharon - I don't know remember what kind it is ... I just know that two of the plants have white flowers and two have fuchsia flowers.

My goal with the bougainvillea is to train it up the trellis' and then let it go wild above to form a sound and security barrior
(something similar to this).
There is bougainvillea where I work on the north side of a 3 story building that seems to do just fine. Maybe the 3 stories protect it. I think if I can get up over the wall more fully, it will do better ... but getting it established is brutal. Training them to grow up the trellis doesn't help since there is no big bush to be protected (i.e., all the branches are exposed to the frost). In fact, I know that's part of the problem because a bougainvillea on the same wall that I barely covered but also had not trained up yet stayed green all winter and is doing fine.

I think if the white comes back, I'll let it grow as a bush for this year to keep it going and wait to train it up the wall next year (I may that with the fuchsia, too). If it doesn't come back, I may give up on white bougainvillea (although I do so love it. I'll have to find somewhere else in the garden to grow it). Or maybe I'll plant two more and keep them as bushes for a few years (sigh).

RE: saving Bougainvillea

That is a Barbara Karst in the picture. I have one in a pot that I am growing as a patio tree. It didn't bloom as freely as the others this winter, but it didn't lose all of it's leaves either. Right now it is making a comeback again.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

Hey Dr.Meow (great name!)-

If none of what you're doing works, there's a new bougie cultivar out (well, at least a couple of years old) 'La Jolla' that I believe is less cold sensitive than other varieties. You might want to look into it - I'm thinking that it might have a more sprawling habit to it as well.

Something else to keep in mind - the picture you have of trellis near the Hayden Library is of a bougie that has to be pretty old - it's *huge* and I remember seeing the gnarled stems on it when passing it on the way to class. You might want to take a look up in our FAQ section for other vines that might do what you're looking for in a shorter time period.

Hope this helps, good luck!

RE: saving Bougainvillea

Oh JOY, JOY, JOY - I discovered a little pair of green leaves on one of afore mentioned white bougainvilleas!! I'm so excited. I'm sure the other one will soon follow. Thanks for your help, everyone. It is especially helpful to know that the microclimate where I have the plants gets pretty cold in the winter. That will help me protect the plants next winter.

RE: saving Bougainvillea

I am glad that I came upon this web site. I was worried that my Bougainvillea's had died. They do not have any green leaves on them and the vine tips are dead. The lower part of the vine is green inside when broken. Should I trim off the dead vines? When will they start to grow and get green again?

RE: saving Bougainvillea

  • Posted by janw az9 (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 20, 08 at 16:53

I don`t cut off the dead until well after any chance of frost usually well into march here to be safe and they have always grown back well for me.


Hey all,

I have a bougainvillea that I got end of summer last year and it bloomed slowly in winter, then came back and bloomed beautiful this early spring. It's in a small container. It had new leaves on the stems with new buds, but the buds shriveled up and fell off. It's pretty bare now. I'm just wondering what happened.
Incidentally, around that time, we put up a bamboo shade to protect the balcony from the intense rays of the summer . Any suggestions?

Here is a link that might be useful: Bgvla

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