How to grow bougainvillea properly


Although it is a subtropical plant and requires a bit more care, bougainvillea started to appear more and more often in our corner of the world too. Bougainvillea blooms in its homeland, but here we grow it mainly for its coloured bracts. It can be yellow, red, purple, pink, white or even orange. It comes from Brazil, where it can grow up to 4 meters tall and it usually needs to be tied to a support structure to grow tall.

Flowering plant suitable for outdoor

Bougainvillea is usually grown in boxes or larger containers and the reason is to move it inside for the winter as it cannot tolerate low temperatures. Oval-shaped leaves are usually dark green but flowers come in different colours (white, orange, purple, red, pink, or even yellow). Flowers are absolutely gorgeous but do not produce any scent. Bougainvillea blooms from July to October and in our climatic conditions can reach a height from 50 to 150 cm.

Location and basic care

If you want to grow bougainvillea you need to choose a bright location. Light is important and this plant needs it throughout the year – even inside during the winter. It also needs sufficient watering, mainly during the growing season. If you encounter dry weather you need to water and mist its leaves as well – but do not spray the bracts. If you overwater, you will notice yellow leaves and you must stop overwatering immediately. If your plant “has grown too” large transplant it in early spring.

Shaping and trimming

To achieve the desired length, while limiting excessively long growth, you need to trim the plant and the best time to do that is in early spring. If you care for bougainvillea properly you can enjoy its beauty for about 5 years. After this time, the plant gradually becomes less and less attractive. We recommend making cuttings while the plant is still beautiful and strong. Immerse cuttings in lukewarm water for several hours, and then in a growth stimulator and then you can plant in a warm soil. Unfortunately, cuttings have hard time to take a root.


In the fall (around mid-September), you need to move bougainvillea to a place with sufficient light, and where the temperatures during the winter remains around 6 to 8 °C. Water very carefully. Much less than in the summer. If you follow these simple rules, you can grow bougainvillea successfully. Do not disturb the plant during wintering period. Bougainvillea is not frost-resistant, so make sure to put in indoors before the first frosts hit.

Preparing for the summer

Proper wintering is important but you need to prepare the plant for the summer too. Do not leave bougainvillea in your apartment for the entire year! You should also fertilize the plant during the summer – use regular liquid fertilizers and do not use gloss for leaves! Bougainvillea hates that.

Falling leaves and bracts

If bougainvillea starts dropping leaves, move it to a warmer place and it should rejuvenate. Oddly enough, it can survive in a cooler and darker place, but if you keep it in such spot forget about nicely coloured bracts. It is also advisable to ventilate the room often, as fresh air benefits it greatly – but do not expose it to strong drafts!

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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