How to Grow and Care for Bougainvillea

How to Grow and Care for Bougainvillea

 Bougainvillea is a genus of more than 17 species. They consist of shrubs, vines, and small trees. They are native to South America. Many of the bougainvillea species are thorny, so watch out. The woody vines are the most popular variety. People do locally call them the paper flowers. The colour and the tone of the bright flowers are very attractive. The most popular one is the one with the pink and purple accents attached to the flowers. The purple or magenta bracts have a stem that can grow up to 30 meters long in warmer places. You can see the tree flowering throughout the year. The stem of the Bougainvillea spectabilis is covered with short hairs, they are a bit short-lived.

Pink and purple accents attached to flowers

Bougainvillea in pots indoors

Bougainvillea can grow fine in pots or different containers. But we gotta look for their needs to ensure they grow perfect. The hardy tropical vines can grow where the temperatures in winter remain 30 degrees F. Just put the plant in a place where they can get about 6 hours of daily sunlight. A south-facing window is gonna work just right. They are generally planted in small pots or even hanging baskets that can climb up a wall vertically. The plant can be propagated from seeds and from stem cuttings too. Cutting the stem and growing them further is the simplest one.

If you are confused about the size of the container you should use, the advice is, to begin with, a small pot as the plant likes its root to be pot-bound. You need to re-pot them into larger pots with time. Start with a 6-inch pot, then repot it in a 9 inch one after about 2 or 3 years. They don’t need too big of a pot, re-potting them once you see the roots coming out from the bottom would do. You can also put a trellis in the container to maintain the shape of the plant.

The plants can grow in plastic or even in terra cotta pots. You can also fetch a hanging basket that is lined with sphagnum moss. Concrete planters or the old laundry baskets will also work. Just ensure there are several holes in the bottom part of the plant so that there is a proper drainage system.

Bougainvillea flowering season

The bougainvillea blooms mostly during the time of November to May. They thrive in places with hot and dry climates. You can trim the branches before the rainy season.

How to grow bougainvillea on a wall

Select a location where the plant would receive a lot of direct sunlight, and place a trellis or wire guide along the wall. There isn’t any particular shape you need to follow, shape it as you desire. Pull each stem carefully and slide it towards the wire. Tie the heavier branches to the trellis with twist ties to ensure that the plant takes the form of your desired shape. Prune away the undesired stems.

Bougainvillea plant care tips

Bougainvillea loves growing in warmer climates. Plant them in a position where they get about 5 to 6 hours of sunlight regularly. They love well-drained soil. So, if you are growing them in a pot, ensure that there are proper drainage holes in them. Use moisture-retentive soil to grow them. This soil can maintain the tender root system of the bougainvillea plant. Add a well-decomposed compost to the soil, this helps in draining and providing the plant with necessary nutrients. A soil with about a pH of 5.5-6.5 works best for the plant. A regular potting soil with a high level of peat moss would do.

The plant does well in a container with its roots restricted – so don’t purchase big-sized pots. Put the plant container over an elevated surface like bricks or crate. The roots of the bougainvillea tree will grow out of the drainage holes, the root can thus go into the soil and locate the plant there itself. That’s why putting a trash container under the pot is necessary. Feeding a mix of water-soluble fertilizers is always a good idea.

Do clean the pair of clippers with disinfectants before you use them for your garden. Then with that, you can prune the plant. Using rubbing alcohol is a popular method in pruning the bougainvillea. Remember that the bougainvillea plants produce too much leaf growth, so you need to water sparingly. Over-watering, like most other plants, can cause rot and weaken the plant. Allow the bougainvillea flower and the plant to fry first to encourage the growth of flowers.

Bougainvillea varieties

There are a lot of varieties of the bougainvillea flower. The bougainvillea plant differs based on its size and bougainvillea colours –

The Camarillo Fiesta

Climbers with thorns

These climbers come with thorns, so you need to be careful about them. But the bold and the beautiful pink clusters are gonna make it up to you. They love attracting visitors.

Gold Rush

Best suited up a trellis

These golden yellow colours of the bougainvillea varieties can glow up your entire garden as the name suggests. Plant them in containers or up a trellis.

White Stripe

Best for summers

The white bougainvillea grows best in summers. The elegant look of this pearl bougainvillea is a must-buy for your home garden.

The cherry blossom

Light pink trail of colour

Another popular variety of the bougainvillea flower. These light pink blooms are gonna bring the perfect trail of colour to your garden.

Purple Queen

Make statements along the fences

The deep-plum flowers come in a striking purple colour. These are enough to make a statement along the fences or in the planter boxes.

White Madonna

Climbs high enough

Another white bougainvillea likes to climb high. They need moderate water and full sun to grow.

Barbara Karst

Perfect covering for arbours

Grow this red bougainvillea and pair them with the white Madonna to get the perfect stunning contrast. This water-wise flower is the perfect covering for the arbours and patios. They are evergreen.

Purple bougainvillea

Red bougainvillea

Yellow bougainvillea

Pink bougainvillea


Orange bougainvillea

Propagating bougainvillea

Stem Cutting

This is the simplest method to propagate bougainvillea. Look for softwood – a branch that isn’t brand new but isn’t too strong. Cut a length of about 4 to 5 inches with about 5 nodes on it. Nodes are the spots on the branches from which smaller branches sprout further. You can also dip the end of the cutting in a rooting hormone. Remove the leaves from the cutting and insert them upright of about one part of perlite and part peat. Put it in a pot and maintain the pot warm. Water and spray the cutting regularly, just don’t let it get overly wet.


This is a relatively much slower process and is a much less popular process. Buy some bougainvillea seeds from your nearby store and plant them in the autumn. You can also find mature bougainvillea forming seed pods inside their tiny white flowers just at the centre. You need to harvest and fry these pods and you would find the seeds inside. Keep them warm. You can plant them any time of the year.


This is done when the plant is growing, especially in the spring. Bend a growing stem down to the ground in the pot itself. Then you need to take a minor cut at the stem near to a node which is about 7 inches from the end. Bury the injured part in the soil, but the end part must stay out of the soil. Keep watering when the soil dries out. After 3-4 months you’d observe the roots developing. Cut the stem of the parent plant and plant in some new position.

Fertilizing bougainvillea

Remember that bougainvillea is a heavy feeder and it likes taking nutrients to produce more flowers. Regular fertilizing during the growing season is recommended. You can start in the early spring and feed the plants with a balanced formula. The popular balanced formula is 10-10-10 which is diluted at a rate of ¼ teaspoon per gallon. Repeat this in the midsummer. In the colder climate areas, the plant tends to be semi-dormant. They do drop some leaves too during the winter as it is a heat-loving plant. Withheld fertilizer in this situation. Wait until the early spring.


Where is the best place to plant a bougainvillea?

The plant loves sunlight. So, the best place is to plant them in a place where the plant would receive full sun for about 5 to 6 hours regularly.

Does bougainvillea like sun or shade?

Bougainvillea loves sun. It can’t grow without proper sunlight. Provide the plant with proper sunlight every day.

How do you care for a bougainvillea plant?

Plant the bougainvillea plant where it would get full sunlight and water it only when you observe the soil getting dry. Practice pruning about once a month.

Can bougainvillea grow in pots?

Yes, bougainvillea can be grown in almost all types of pots. They like their roots getting restricted to spread, so start with a small pot and re-pot them as they grow further.

How long does a Bougainvillea live?

You just need to take proper care of the plant and the plant would live for decades.

How to grow the Bougainvillea plant from seeds?

You can observe the plant growing seed pods in the autumn inside the flower. You need to harvest and fry these pods and you would find the seeds inside. Keep them warm.

How to graft bougainvillea?

You need a scion and a bougainvillea rootstock where the varieties are gonna get merged. Scion is a twig of bougies which is used to integrate other varieties to create a completely new plant.

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