Bougainvillea: planting care pruning and flowering

Bougainvillea is a climbing shrubdeciduous, semi-evergreen or evergreen depending on the variety, of the genus Bougainvillea and the family of Nyctaginacea. He is originally from South America. It brings to the terrace as to the garden a spectacular note thanks to its colorful bracts and tiny white flowers. Cultivated in the ground in the Mediterranean climate and in certain areas of the Atlantic coast, it must be installed in pot or tray everywhere else because it does not support low temperatures. It is imperative to place it inside from the first frost. Let’s take a look at planting Bougainvillea and the care it needs to grow well and bloom profusely.

Planter un Bougainvillier

Bougainvillea loves deep soils, furnitureperfectly drained et fertile. He appreciates the warm and sunny exposures, extremely bright, sheltered from drafts and cold winds. This shrub can very well be installed in a veranda because the light is very important there, but you have to think about taking it out in summer.

Planting Bougainvillea in the ground

The spring is the best time of the year to plant a Bougainvillea in the ground, but it is also possible at the end of September, namely during the first days of autumn. The procedure to follow is as follows.

  • Thoroughly dig the soil in order toloosento remove the stones and to suppress the roots of weeds.
  • Dig a hole larger than the root ball.
  • Mix clay pebbles or gravel with good garden soil to promote drainage. Too compact soil must be lightened with a contribution of soil or a little sand for example.
  • Add organic manure to the mixture to give your Bougainvillea a terre nutritive absolutely necessary to guarantee its rooting.
  • Install the clod in the hole, ensuring that the top is flush with ground level.
  • Fill the hole and tamp the soil without damaging the roots.
  • Ask a trellising or stakes then direct the branches towards the supports and maintain them with very flexible links because the stems of Bougainvillea do not cling, unlike many other climbing plants.
  • Water copiously.

Bougainvillea in the ground can be used as a hedge or isolated.

Plantation du Bougainvillier en pot

It is essential to plant a Bougainvillea in a good quality potting soil which can be mixed with a very good loose and light garden soil. The pot planting method is as follows.

  • Choose a large enough potat least 35 cm in height and diameter and must be fully drilled.
  • Place a 6 cm drainage layer at the bottom of the container, such as clay balls or broken terracotta, then cover it with a drainage veil.
  • Install the root ball in the pot.
  • Fill with the suitable substrate which can be:
    • either from planting soil of quality that should be lightened with a handful or two of siliceous sand of volcanic origin, namely perlite,
    • either a soil for mediterranean plants or a special Bougainvillea potting soil.
  • Water copiously.

If the pot is placed on a saucer, it will be necessary to think of emptying it well after a rain or a watering.

Caring for a Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea must be installed in a place sufficiently sunny, sheltered from drafts, but you still have to be wary of south-facing terraces where the temperature can reach peaks and where the heat is sometimes stifling. Here are some tips for keeping your Bougainvillea healthy and enjoying its extraordinary beauty for many years.


Watering this shrub is quite tricky. The Bougainvillea likes a rather dry ground. If it receives little water, it flowers very abundantly, but it still needs watering to develop, that is to say during the first two years that follow its planting. During this period it is therefore necessary to water it enough to meet the needs of the growing shrub. However, these roots should never be immersed in water.

Watering a Bougainvillea grown in the ground becomes unnecessary after the first two years. On the other hand, it must be continued with regularity for the subjects in pot between the month of March and the month of October, that is to say during the period of vegetation. During the winter, the waterings must be spaced out by at least four weeks so that the substrate can dry out. This is how we stimulates flowering the following spring.


Experienced gardeners use a trick to make their Bougainvillea flower more and branch out well: when training, they bend certain shoots slightly down and others horizontally rather than attaching them vertically.

You can use any type of trellising: a hoop, wire, braces, Jobu rings… Better to wear protective gloves to intervene on this climbing shrub because it is thorny.


From April to September, once every two weeks, a special Bougainvillea fertilizer is only absolutely necessary if the shrub has been planted in a pot or in a container.


Repotting of course only concerns Bougainvillea grown in pots. It takes place every two or three years, and the best time is early spring. Repotting allows the shrub to be placed in a larger pot. After a few years, when the operation proves to be more difficult, one can settle for a surfacing which consists of scraping the surface of the substrate to remove it and replacing it with new soil. Be careful not to damage the roots.

Overwinter Bougainvillea in pots

Gélif, Bougainvillea tolerates low temperatures and frost very badly, if at all depending on the variety. This is the reason why it is necessary to cultivate it in pots outside our most southern regions. This allows to bring it in as soon as the outside or perceived temperature is around 5°C. We install it in a bright and cool roombetween 7 and 14°C, where the shrub will be well sheltered until spring.

Regarding the Bougainvillea in the ground, it must be protected by a winter sail as soon as the temperature drops below 5°C, and this as long as it is still growing because it is more fragile in the cold when it is young. However, it can be discovered in sunny weather if there is no icy wind, but you have to remember to put on the wintering veil before nightfall.

Pests and diseases

Enough robustBougainvillea is not very sensitive pests and diseases when it is offered the best growing conditions: lots of light, sunshine, not too much water while ensuring that it has sufficient humidity. Too dry air under intense heat favors the attacks of aphids, spider mites and mealy bugs. This is more common in a confined atmosphere, which is why you must be particularly vigilant with Bougainvilleas grown indoors. It is also noted that excessive humidity tends to favor mildew.

The best solution for protect your Bougainvillea against pests and diseases is to take it out on sunny days so that it can spend a good part of spring and all summer outside. It is absolutely essential. In this way, the few possible pests will be eaten by ladybugs, birds and other garden helpers. In summer, it is also necessary to think from time to time to mist the foliage of the Bougainvillea (above and below) but without abusing it.

Prune Bougainvillea

Beware of severe pruning which considerably slows down the growth of Bougainvillea. By keeping the light hand therefore, we can perform a small size if necessary. Bougainvillea grown in the ground can be pruned in early March, when winter is coming to an end and growth is starting up again. The potted Bougainvillea should be pruned after flowering if it is overwintered in a room because under these conditions, it is common for this shrub to continue to flower during the off-season. By cutting it too early, we simply risk depriving ourselves of this spectacle.

Flowering Bougainvillea

It is usually from avril or May and until October and even November that the Bougainvillea flowers. It then takes on a breathtaking look that is the pride of all gardeners who have the good idea to plant in the ground or in a pot this climbing shrub with woody stems that flowers generously and is covered with bracts declined in a rich color palette.

Lowercase White flowers Bougainvillea open at the heart of these bracts whose shape is similar to that of the leaves and which can be mauve, purple, pink, yellow, red, orange… The choice is therefore vast, but whatever Bougainvillea we select, we are always marveling at the sumptuousness and abundance of its flowering, all the more so if we remove the faded bracts as we go along.

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