Bougainvilleas are flowering machines. You can’t beat them for an explosion of color. The basic cycle of care for a Bougainvillea is: place it in full sun, water it a couple of times a week allowing the plant to dry out between waterings, feed it regularly and heavily every 2-3 weeks during and after the bloom cycle, prune it aggressively to maintain the shape that you want to keep it in, and then just plain and simply get away from it and ignore it. Enjoy the blooms, but always remember this is not a “froo’froo” plant. It’s a weed!
Following are more detailed tips
1) Place Bougainvillea in a full sun, wind protected area. As long as the temps do not reach 32 degrees or lower, it is perfectly fine to leave Bougainvilleas outside. If this recommendation is disregarded and the Bougainvillea is moved from outdoors to indoors on a regular basis, it will serve to confuse the plant which may cause it to react by prematurely dropping bracts/blooms and foliage as it reverts to a self-preservation mode.
2) Bougainvilleas are drought tolerant and should not require watering more than twice a week. Excessive watering will result in immediate and premature bloom drop. Visually, when you see a Bougainvillea leaf begin to curl, the plant has just spoken volumes to you…..please give me a drink.
3) Under ideal growing conditions, you can expect a bloom cycle of 4 to 6 weeks, and in some cases, even longer.
4) Bougainvillea like to be root bound. They can be happy in a container for several years before needing to be re-potted.
5) Where the Bougainvillea concludes its’ bloom cycle and drops its’ blooms, it should be immediately pruned. Many people are afraid to seriously prune Bougainvilleas, which over time causes them to lose shape. Don’t be afraid to cut it. Bougainvilleas bloom on new wood. The more pruning cuts, the more bud, and ultimately the more blooms that will cluster.
6) After pruning, give the plant a healthy dose of Osmocote Plant Food, which is a well-balanced time-released fertilizer that will provide 6 months of continuous feeding. Water the fertilizer in.
7) Two to three weeks later, feed the Bougainvillea a high phosphorous, bloom boosting type of fertilizer, such as Scotts Super Bloom. Bougainvilleas are heavy eaters, so give them a hearty dose. Continue the 2-3 week feedings. Additionally, on a 3 week cycle apply one tablespoon of epsom salts in a gallon of water. It will take approximately 4-5 weeks to re-enter the next blooming cycle. Always keep in mind that when any of the fertilization treatments are administered the watering-in process that accompanies the fertilization counts as one of the twice a week waterings.
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