Bougainvillea is an iconic, impressive evergreen plant with large colourful ‘bracts’ which surround tiny white flowers. A bract is a different type of leaf that surrounds the actual flowers. The colorful bracts which are often misidentified as the bougainvillea flowers, come in a huge variety of colours. The most commonly seen bougainvillea are those with pink bracts and those with purple bracts. Bougainvillea is ideal as a climber but with appropriate care and pruning can be grown to any shape or size you can imagine.

Table of Contents

How do you say bougainvillea?

Bougainvillea is pronounced – BOO-gan-VIL-ee-a

How to pronounce bougainvillea

How cold can bougainvillea tolerate?

Bougainvillea can tolerate temperatures down to about 2°c, though a winter temperature of closer to 10°c would be preferable. Temperatures below 10°c can lead to bougainvillea temporarily losing it’s leaves. Bougainvillea prefer a warm climate if grown outside, preferably sheltered from the wind.

Can bougainvillea survive frost?

Bougainvillea will not tolerate frost. It must be protected from temperatures below 2°c.

Can bougainvillea grow inside?

It is certainly possible to grow bougainvillea inside. Bougainvillea does like a lot of sun though so it needs to be in a bright spot. In colder climates that suffer frosts during the winter seasons the bougainvillea will need to be protected by moving it inside to a conservatory or greenhouse to ensure it doesn’t get below 2°c.
Providing it is placed by a sunny bright window bougainvillea can be successfully grown indoors all year around.

How to plant a bougainvillea outside

Bougainvillea prefer a warm climate and love the direct sun so it’s best to choose a sunny spot that doesn’t get waterlogged. To plant a bougainvillea, first dig over the area and incorporate some compost or manure. Dig a hole about 1/2 metre (1.5 feet) deep ensuring to leave at least 1/2 metre away from surrounding shrubs / trees or walls. Fill the hole with water and leave it to soak away, then add some fine soil to the hole before placing the root ball of the plant in the hole and filling the surrounding gap around the root ball with some more fine soil and firm the plant in place.

How to grow bougainvillea from cuttings

Can you grow bougainvillea from cuttings

Propagating bougainvillea from cuttings is not easy, but it is possible. It’s best to take cuttings during the early spring time once the plant has started producing new shoots. It’s best to use these new shoots to produce the cutting required for propagating.

How to plant a bougainvillea in a pot

Bougainvillea grow best outside in direct sun providing your climate will not expose them to frost. To grow bougainvillea in a pot means you can move it to somewhere warmer e.g. a conservatory or greenhouse during the colder winter months. The roots don’t like to be compressed or waterlogged so it’s important to ensure your bougainvillea doesn’t become pot bound or suffer from root rot.

How often to water bougainvillea

Overwatering should be avoided, especially in the winter months. Bougainvillea do not like sitting in water. Once your bougainvillea starts to growing during the springtime, frequency of watering should be increased. Once growth starts to slow down during the Autumn watering should be decreased again.

How to keep bougainvillea blooming

Bougainvillea can bloom virtually all year around if it is happy. It is good practice to feed bougainvillea during the main growing season from Spring to Autumn. Frequency of watering should also increase during this time. To encourage new flowers, once the blooms start to die off they can be pinched off back to the stem.

Pink Bougainvillea

What is the best fertilizer for bougainvillea?

It is best to apply a high nitrogen feed during the early growing season. The high nitrogen feed will encourage strong leaf growth on your bougainvillea. Once the flowers start to bloom you can switch to a potash / potassium fertilizer which will boost the growth of the flowers.

Can I use Miracle Grow on bougainvillea?

Miracle Grow is a balance of both nitrogen and potassium, so would make a good all round choice for your bougainvillea.

Can I use tomato feed / Tomorite on bougainvillea?

Tomato feed is usually high in potash and so would make a good fertilizer for bougainvillea to promote the growth and colour of the flowers.

How to prune bougainvillea

The best time to prune and shape a bougainvillea is before the growing season begins. It’s best to trim bougainvillea before spring ideally in January or February. It is also possible to give bougainvillea a light trim once flowering has finished.

Cutting back the side shoots on the main stem will simulate shoots that will flower. The flowers will be produced on the new growth. The main stem can be cut back if required at this time in order to shape the bougainvillea.

Whilst pruning you should also remove any suckers that are growing from your bougainvillea. The suckers can be identified as the green straight stems and usually have slightly larger leaves.

How to prune a bougainvillea in pots

Pruning a bougainvillea grown in a pot is a similar process to one growing outside. It is best to prune early in the year in the lead up to spring. Keep in mind that the flowers are produced on any new growth, so prune accordingly. Ensure any suckers are removed when you prune, these can be pruned back to the main stem. The suckers normally have a larger leaf and are straight green stem.

How to train a bougainvillea

How to grow a bougainvillea on a wall

Bougainvillea will happily grow up a wall providing there is something to allow the bougainvillea to climb. Keep in mind that once the bougainvillea has got to a significant size it will be difficult to replace the structure it is growing on, so a substantial trellis or series of supporting wires attached to the wall is recommended. Your plant will thrive if the situation is in direct sun but protected from any significant wind.

How to train a bougainvillea on to a fence

Growing bougainvillea on a fence will be easy with the correct support on the fence to allow the bougainvillea to climb. It is worth considering how maintenance to the fence can be achieved if for example you periodically paint the panels or should you need to replace a panel. If you have a chain link fence then the bougainvillea will easily be supported by this but once the plant has got to a large size it will be difficult to untangle it from your fence if you want to do that in the future. Direct sunlight is recommended for best results.

Is bougainvillea poisonous?

The bougainvillea plant is not just beautiful – it’s also toxic! The sap from the plant can cause skin irritations and if ingested, vomiting or diarrhoea. In large quantities, it can even be fatal, so bougainvillea should be kept away from pets and small children who may be tempted to put the plant in their mouths.

Can you grow bougainvillea near a swimming pool?

There’s no need to worry about growing bougainvillea near a swimming pool – the plant is actually quite tolerant of salt and chlorine. However, you will need to take into account the amount of sun and heat that the area around the pool receives, as bougainvillea requires at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Otherwise, simply ensure that the soil is well-drained and keep an eye on watering, as bougainvilleas are susceptible to root rot if over watered. Bougainvilleas have sharp thorns, so it might be an idea to plant them in an area where they can’t cause too much damage! One reason to be wary of placing a bougainvillea to near a swimming pool is the amount of mess they produce as the bracts start to fall off as the flowers die off.