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How to make a Bougainvillea Plant Bloom

Updated on January 23, 2015

I bought my first Bougainvillea about 15 years ago. I planted it in the wrong place where it didn’t get a lot of sun. It got leggy, gave me no blooms, and lost all its leaves in the winter. I thought it was dead so I sadly dug it out and threw away. Little did I know that all I had to do was move it to a sunny location, trim it down after each blooming period, and let it come back to life after every winter.

Today I have 7 Bougainvillea plants in my garden, most of them in pots, as I have learned that they like to be root-bound, and they will give you more blooms this way. They say the more you neglect a Bougainvillea the more it will reward you with flowers, it doesn’t make sense right? Well, the Bougainvillea is one of those plants that performs better under stressed. Too much water and too much fertilizer will give you beautiful dark green foliage, but no flowers.

Let your Bougainvillea Dry Out

Letting your Bougainvillea dry out in between waterings is key to maximum flower output. Nursery growers will starve a Bougainvillea of water for weeks, even months at the time, and then they give will give them a good drench of water. This will make the plant think it was just given one last chance to survive, and it will make the plant bloom profusely in order to propagate. I would leave this method to the experts, since there is always a chance that the plant might die from lack of water.

Prune your Bougainvillea

Another essential element to get more blooms out of your Bougainvillea is pruning. Because these plants flower on new growth, you must trim it slightly (or prune it extensively if you want to keep it at a certain size). A slight pruning is actually beneficial and necessary after each bloom. These plants have a blooming period of 4 to 6 weeks, after that they rest and energize for a few weeks before they give you another display of blooms. This is the perfect time to give it a quick prune.

Fertilize your Bougainvillea

Fertilizing your Bougainvillea plant is always a good idea for maximum blooms. These plants are heavy feeders. I use a slow-release fertilizer rich in Potassium in the months of spring and summer after every bloom. You will soon develop a rhythm with your plant. Trim, fertilize, water, and enjoy the beautiful blooms; trim, fertilize, water, and enjoy again.

Make your Bougainvillea Climb Up a Trellis or Fence

The Bougainvillea is one of the most spectacular plants for their colorful blooms and for their versatility. You can grow them in so many ways, in containers, baskets, as topiaries or even as small trees. You can also make them climb up a trellis or cover a fence as they are resilient vines. It is the perfect plant for Florida gardeners because of our mild winters. So follow these tips in the care of your next Bougainvillea plant, and delight in the magnificent display of color in your garden.


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    • FloridaGardener profile image

      Laura Grace 4 years ago from Tampa, Florida


      Bougainvilleas are sold in most nurseries, including Lowe's and Home Depot. They come in different sizes and colors. I have found that the most vigorous and easy to grow are the purple flower plant. Good luck to you.

    • profile image

      Richard 4 years ago

      I live in Central Florida and would like to purchase these for a fence cover . Can you tell me where to purchase.

    • FloridaGardener profile image

      Laura Grace 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida


      Good Luck to you with your new Bougainvilleas. Spring is a great time to plant them. Glad my article inspired you to buy them. Thanks

    • FloridaGardener profile image

      Laura Grace 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida


      Please let me know how it turns out after you prune your Bougainvillea. Wishing you many blooms to come. Thanks.

    • KerryAnita profile image

      KerryAnita 5 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Good information Laura. I have a bougainvillea on the side of my house and I've never trimmed it back before. I'll have to try that!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      thank you for sharing this with us, Laura. Next spring I will get some of these and begin training it to use the fabulous trellises that I have. My son in law has made me three and one needs a special plant. I am a fan of these but right now have none. So glad I came across this article today. Happi Saturday to you. ps


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