Bougainvillea Growing and Planting Guide

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Bougainvillea is an evergreen that’s spectacularly colourful and can be used in a home, conservatory or greenhouse. You can also find the showy ‘flowers,’ in many colours, including purple, mauve and pink, apricot red, yellow, or white. These bracts are actually paper-thin and surround a central cluster of true flowers. They are small and white in colour.

Can you grow Bougainvillea in the UK

For bougainvillea to thrive, it needs to grow in frost-free conditions. It can only be grown outside in summer in the UK. If the conditions are favourable, bougainvilleas can bloom in multiple flushes for several months.

White Bougainvillea

Can You Grw Bougainvilleas Indoors?

Bougainvilleas can be sold as houseplants and serve beautifully indoors. They are usually trained around a wireframe or a frame. But they can also grow as a bush, up a wall, or under an arch. Bougainvilleas require plenty of space to grow because they can reach up to two meters in height. There are many varieties of bougainvillea that can be grown compactly. They grow up to one meter tall and can be used as bushes, or even planted in a hanging basket.

How To Grow Bougainvillea

You can grow bougainvillea indoors in a place that is frost-free, such as a sunny area, or in a greenhouse heated in winter. Although bougainvillea plants can tolerate temperatures down to 2°C, the ideal temperature for winter is 7-10°C. Below 10°C, but above freezing, bougainvillea plants may lose some or all their leaves. However, they will grow back when the temperature rises.

Purple Bougainvillea

Bougainvilleas are best if they are regularly pruned and fed according to the season. To keep them in their support, tie them every other day.

Where To Grow Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea requires full sun and it can also be grown in a window, a conservatory or a heated greenhouse. Potted plants that are able to be moved can enjoy the summer in the garden, where they will be given a sunny spot and shelter. Bougainvillea stems can be thorny so make sure to consider this when you are choosing where to plant it.

How To Care For Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea plants can often be purchased in small pots. However, these pots are not large enough to hold the plant. It is best to transfer them into a larger container as soon as possible. Your bougainvillea should be allowed to adjust to its new environment for several weeks before you transplant it into a larger container. After soaking the roots in water for about an hour, remove the pot from the ground and plant the bougainvillea.

Use a good quality, peat-free multi-purpose potting compost. Place the plant in the container so that the top of the compost is a few centimeters lower than the new pot’s rim. Only fill the compost around the roots and do not press it too hard. Allow the compost to settle completely. If any root ball remains, water it again.

Watering And Feeding Bougainvillea

For bougainvilleas to thrive, it is necessary to adjust the amount of watering and feeding according to season. Winter requires only occasional watering – usually around once every fortnight. However, make sure to check the moisture content of the compost to ensure it isn’t too dry or too moist.

What’s the best time to water bougainvillea frequently

Spring is a good time to increase watering frequency to twice or three times per week depending on the outside temperature. Avoid overwatering bougainvilleas, as they don’t like having their roots waterlogged. You should water the plant thoroughly, then let it dry completely before you water again. Reduce the amount of watering in autumn as your growth slows.

When to feed bougainvillea seeds

From mid-spring to mid-autumn, you should start feeding bougainvilleas every other week. To encourage leaf growth, apply a liquid fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Once the growth is strong and the bracts have developed, switch to a fertilizer rich in potash, such as tomato fertilizer, which will increase growth and intensify color. To encourage new blooms, you can pinch off the bougainvillea dead and faded flowers to their stems.

Pruning And Training Bougainvillea

It is best to prune bougainvillea at the end of February. If the plant is overgrowing its location, you can light prune it after each flush.

Bougainvilleas only flower on the growth of the previous year. Therefore, it is important to not remove too many stems. First, remove any dead growth. Next, trim back any dead growth. To protect your hands against the thorns, always wear gloves.

Growing Bougainvillea: Problem Solving

You can grow bougainvilleas in a variety of growing conditions and are generally trouble-free. Overwatering can cause leaves to turn yellow or pale. Allow the compost to dry between waterings and if you’re in doubt, stick your finger in the compost to check the moisture level.

Insect Or Spider Attack

Scale insect or red spider mites are likely to cause unhealthy, pale-looking or mottled growth in bougainvilleas grown indoors, in conservatories or greenhouses. A sticky substance, called honeydew falling from the leaves onto the ground is often the first sign that there is a problem.  This sticky substance is produced by sapsuckers and aphids. The brown scale insect is found under the leaves or in the leaf joints. Red spider mite, which causes leaves to mottle, is barely visible to the naked eyes and can be found underneath the leaves. Tiny webs may also be found under the leaves. These pests can be controlled with biological control. However, increasing humidity can prevent them from attacking.

How To Propagate Bougainvillea

Cuttings of Bougainvillea are difficult to grow. You can however, make cuttings from spring shoots that are young and healthy. The cuttings should be approximately 8cm long. Dip the base in hormone rooting powder. Then, heat a small container with moist cutting compost in the pot.

Advice On Buying Bougainvillea

  • There are many varieties of bougainvillea available, with different sizes and flowers in a wide variety of colors. You should choose the best bougainvillea to fit your space.
  • Bougainvilleas can be purchased at a variety of online retailers, garden centers and nurseries. You will, however, find a greater selection at specialist nurseries.
  • Only purchase the best plants. Before you plant, make sure to inspect the plant for any signs of damage or pests.

Bougainvillea Varieties To Grow

Most garden centers offer a limited selection of bougainvilleas. There are also specialized nurseries that ship plants via mail order will have a wider selection.

  • Pedro – A compact bougainvillea that has fewer thorns than the species. It has clusters of small white flowers, surrounded by brick-red bracts.
  • Show Lady – bears small white flowers that are surrounded by white bracts.
  • Snow Purple – bears small white flowers that are surrounded by pink-purple bracts.
  • Temple Fire – a dwarf bougainvillea that bears masses of bright, fuchsia pink bracts.
Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.