Bougainvillea: planting, maintenance, pruning and flowering

The Bougainvillea is a climbing shrub, deciduous, semi-evergreen or persistent 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 container everywhere else because it cannot withstand low temperatures. It is imperative to place it indoors from the first frost. Let’s take stock of the planting of Bougainvillea and the care it needs to develop well and bloom profusely.

Plant a Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea likes deep soils, furniture, perfectly drained and fertile. He appreciates the hot and sunny exposures, extremely bright, sheltered from drafts and cold winds. This shrub can perfectly be installed in a veranda because the light is very important there, but it is necessary to think of 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, ie during the first days of autumn. The procedure to follow is as follows.

  • Dig up the soil well in order toloosen, remove stones and remove weed roots.
  • Dig a hole larger than the root ball.
  • Mix clay balls or gravel with good garden soil to promote drainage. A soil that is too compact must be lightened with a contribution of potting soil or a little sand for example.
  • Add organic manure to the mixture to give your Bougainvillea a nutritious land absolutely necessary to guarantee its rooting.
  • Install the root ball in the hole making sure that the upper part is flush with the ground level.
  • Fill the hole again and compact the soil without damaging the roots.
  • Ask a training or stakes then direct the twigs towards the supports and hold them with very flexible ties because the stems of the Bougainvillea do not cling, unlike many other climbing plants.
  • Water copiously.

Bougainvillea in the ground is used as a hedge or isolated.

Planting Bougainvillea in a pot

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

  • Choose a sufficiently large pot, at least 35 cm in height and in diameter and obligatorily 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 quality that should be lightened with one or two handfuls of silica sand of volcanic origin, namely perlite,
    • either a potting soil for Mediterranean plants or a special Bougainvillea potting soil.
  • Water copiously.

If you put the pot on a saucer, you will have to remember to empty it after a rain or watering.

Caring for a Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea must be installed in a sufficiently sunny, sheltered from drafts, but you should all the same beware 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 to come.


Watering this shrub is quite tricky. Bougainvillea thrives in 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 sufficiently 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 potted plants between the month of March and the month of October, that is to say during the growing season. During the winter, waterings should be spaced at least four weeks apart so that the substrate can dry out. This is how we stimulates flowering of the following spring.


Experienced gardeners use a trick to make their Bougainvillea bloom even more and branch out well: when trellising, they bend some branches slightly. down and others horizontally rather than attaching them vertically.

You can use any type of trellis: 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, an addition of special Bougainvillea fertilizer is absolutely necessary only if the shrub has been installed in a pot or in a container.


Repotting of course only concerns Bougainvillea grown in pots. It is carried out 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 more difficult, we can be satisfied with a surfacing which consists of scraping the surface of the substrate to remove it and which is replaced by new soil. Be careful not to damage the roots.

Wintering the Bougainvillea in a pot

Gelif, Bougainvillea does not tolerate low temperatures and therefore frost very poorly, if at all depending on the variety. This is the reason why it is necessary to grow it in pots outside our southernmost regions. This allows to return it as soon as the outside or perceived temperature is around 5 ° C. We install it in a bright and fresh room, between 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 wintering veil as soon as the temperature drops below 5 ° C, and this while it is still growing because it is more fragile to 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 the winter cover back on before dark.

Parasites and diseases

Enough robust, the Bougainvillea is not very sensitive to parasites and diseases when it is offered the best growing conditions: lots of light, sun, not too much water while ensuring that it benefits from sufficient humidity. Too dry air in intense heat favors the attacks of aphids, red spiders and mealybugs. 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 promote mildew.

The best solution for protect your Bougainvillea against pests and diseases is to take it out on sunny days so that it spends a good part of the spring and all the summer outside. It is absolutely essential. In this way, the few possible pests will be eaten by ladybugs, birds and other garden aids. 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 for all that.

Prune the Bougainvillea

Beware of severe pruning which considerably slows down the growth of the Bougainvillea. 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 resumes. The Bougainvillea in a pot is pruned after flowering if it is wintered in a room because in these conditions, it is common for this shrub to continue to bloom during the off-season. By pruning it too early, we simply risk depriving ourselves of this spectacle.

Flowering Bougainvillea

It is usually from April or May and until October and even November that the Bougainvillea blooms. It then takes on a breathtaking look that is the pride of all gardeners having the good idea of ​​planting in the ground or in a pot this climbing shrub with woody stems which blooms generously and is covered with bracts declined in a rich color palette.

Lowercase White flowers Bougainvillea opens 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 you select, you are always marveled at the sumptuousness and abundance of its flowering, all the more if we remove the wilted bracts as we go.