A bougainvillea plant is native to the rain forests of Brazil, Peru, and southern Argentina. Bougainvillea plants, with their thorny, woody, tropical vines, produce beautiful clusters of red, pink, orange, white, yellow, purple, and magenta paper-like bracts. The colorful bracts surround the actual flower, which is usually small and white. Bougainvillea flowers appear on branches 18″-20″ long. A Bougainvillie is a very poisonous plant and should be kept way from small children and pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants Once used primarily as an outdoor plant, a Bougainvillea is now commonly used as spectacular looking indoor plant.
A Bougainvillea Plant needs bright full sun for at least 5-6 hours every day in order to bloom. Lack of light is the main reason why a Bougainvillea Plant doesn’t flower indoors. Keep a Bougainvillea These plants need at least 5 hours of sun to grow and flower indoors. Place as close to a south or west facing window as possible.
Bougainvillea is a drought tolerant plant that should be kept on the dry side. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. A bougainvillea may even wilt a little to let you know it needs water. When you do water a bougainvillea plant, water deeply and cover the entire surface of the soil. Good drainage is essential and a bougainvillea should never sit in water. Frequent light waterings encourages weak roots and discourages good flower color. During the winter, a bougainvillea requires even less water. If over-watered bougainvillea plants develop root rot, do not flower, and drop leaves. If the soil totally dries out, bracts and leaves fall off.
Fertilize monthly when the plant is in bloom with a special bougainvillea or hibiscus plant food high in iron and micronutrients. This type of plant food helps strengthen the thin delicate roots and increases the number of blooms. When a bougainvillea plant is resting or not producing flowers during the winter months, fertilize every other month, diluting the plant food to ½ the recommended strength. Never fertilize if the soil is very dry or it will burn the roots.
A bougainvillea does well in temperatures between 70°-85°F during the day and 60°-70°F at night. When resting during the winter, Bougainvilleas prefer temperatures between 50°-60°F.
Bougainvilleas likes high humidity, especially when it is about to bloom. During the winter, when it’s resting, A Bougainvillea Plant requires less humidity.
Bougainvillea Plants, like Peace Lilies and Lipstick Plants, produce more flowers when stressed. Keeping a Bougainvillea root-bound and on the dry side encourages it to bloom. Bougainvillea Plants will not bloom if they don’t get 5-6 hours of bright sun each day.
A Bougainvillea is a very pest resistant plant. On rare occasions, aphids may be a problem for a Bougainvillea, or caterpillars may infest the plant if you put it outside during the summer.
Leaf Spot disease can occur because of the high humidity a Bougainvillea needs. Keep the leaves of a Bougainvillea Plant dry to help prevent Leaf Spot disease and use a fungicide to control Leaf Spot disease ifit occurs.
Bougainvillea Plants need a loamy soil with a great deal of organic material in it. It’s important for the soil to drain quickly to prevent root rot.
Bougainvillea Plants grow well in large hanging baskets at least 10″-12″ in size or in 5-10 gallon clay planters. I recommend clay planters because they allow the soil to dry out faster. Bougainvilleas flower more often when they are root-bound.
Prune a Bougainvillea plant to maintain its shape and size. It’s perfectly fine to remove entire branches or limbs to get a bougainvillea to fit a particular area.
Propagate a Bougainvillea Plant using stem cuttings.
During the winter, when a Bougainvillea Plant is resting, cut back on water and plant food and place your Bougainvillea in lower light and cooler temperatures.
Poisonous Plant Info
A Bougainvillea Plant is a very poisonous houseplant and has a #3 Toxicity Level. The sap from a Bougainvillea can cause a rash that resembles poison ivy so be sure to wear gloves when pruning this plant.
Reddish- brown spots on the leaves of a Bougainvillea Plant usually indicate a fungus infection like Leaf Spot Disease. Fungal plant diseases are caused by high humidity or water staying on the leaves of a Bougainvillea Plant. Cutting off the diseased leaves, providing good air circulation around your Bougainvillea plant, keeping the leaves dry, and using a Fungicide are the best ways to treat a fungal plant disease.
Incorrect watering is why a Bougainvillea Plant loses leaves and never gets flowers. Allow at least the top 35% of the soil to dry out before watering a Bougainvillea or even wait until the leaves start to droop. Allowing the soil of a Bougainvillea to dry out helps the plant bloom. When you water a Bougainvillea Plant, water well enough so that the water drains out the bottom drip holes. Frequent light waterings only encourage a weak root system.
A Bougainvillea Plant needs the following things in order to bloom: 5-6 hours of direct sun; rich fertile soil that is kept on the dry side; plant food made especially for Bougainvillea or Hibiscus Plants, aggressive pruning every year, pots that are large but still small enough to allow the Bougainvillea Plant to become root- bound.
Drooping leaves on a Bougainvillea Plant when the soil is wet is an indication of root rot due to over-watering.
A light frost shouldn’t kill a Bougainvillea Plant, but most of the leaves and colorful bracts will probably fall off. A Bougainvillea should start to grow again if you move it inside and keep the temperature above 50 degrees.