Caring for a Bougainvillea

Q: I've had a Bougainvillea for 2 years as a houseplant. It's tall, has lots of leaves, but does not flower. It looks sickly, how can I better care for it?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

Thank you,
Christy from Colorado

A: Christy,

It can be challenging to get Bougainvillea to flower under ordinary indoor conditions, so if possible move them to a sunny location outdoors for the summer. Like other flowering houseplants, Bougainvilleas need more light than non-flowering houseplants. Daylight triggers blooming. They will usually bloom when the number of available daylight hours equals the number of hours of darkness. During this time they need a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight each day. In the spring and summer, keep soil moist and temperatures warm-the warmer the better. Fertilize them during the active growing period with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer (like Miracle Grow) applied at 1/2 strength-don't over do it. As temperatures drop in the fall, cease feeding, back off on the watering and move them to a cooler room (50º-60ºF). Gradually increase the temperature and watering again once spring arrives. If your indoor air is dry, mist the leaves regularly to increase the humidity around the plant.



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By Amy (Guest Post)
February 6, 20060 found this helpful

You need to give it LOTS and LOTS of water. And hang outside in the morning sun.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
February 7, 20060 found this helpful

Bougainvillea is an outdoor plant. I have them all over here, they thrive on neglect and flower profusely.

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By Kay (Guest Post)
February 7, 20060 found this helpful

I live in country New South Wales in Australia....I too have a beautiful bougainvillea growing in my front garden in FULL sun most of the day, shaded by the verandah in the late afternoon (it's the middle of summer here now) is definately an OUTDOOR plant and needs lots of sunshine to produce the winter, it loses most of it's leaves so looks like a very woody plant with careful, the thorns really hurt! Try putting your bougainvillea outside in the sun but keep away from FROSTS, don't forget to prune it back a little, this encourages more blooms in the Spring......Good luck, Kay from OZ

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By Jeanne (Guest Post)
February 7, 20060 found this helpful

I keep a small Bougainvillea inside. It is really a form of vine and thus is rather spindly. It needs to live in a South window where it gets a lot of sun and be cut back regularly since it flowers only on new growth.


I water mine weekly but when the bracts dry up and fall off I skip a week of watering and water rather sparingly until new bracts form. That will usually bring it right back into bloom.

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By (Guest Post)
February 7, 20060 found this helpful

I keep a bougainvillea inside. It is a vining plant ant thus really is naturally rather spindly. The flowers are tiny and it is the colorful bracts that surround them that most people consider the blooms. It needs to live in a south facing window with a lot of sun. It also needs to be cut back fairly often to keep it under control and also because it only flowers on new growth. I water mine weekly but I have learned that to bring it into flower, once the current bracts dry up and fall off, I skip a week of watering and let it get dry. Then I water it rather sparingly until the new bracts form.

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February 9, 20060 found this helpful

It may be an area specific thing, but... My experience is the same as Linda's. I'm in San Diego (USDA Zone 10+, Sunset Zone 23)-- leave them alone except for pruning, and they do fine...


drought conditions suit them. However, they must do OK with plenty of rain, too-- they have them growing along the roadsides in HI.

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