How to Grow a Bougainvillea Plant


Bougainvillea is a colorful tropical vine native to Brazil. The blooms of this plant are actually small white flowers surrounded by three brilliantly colored bracts. Available shades include yellow, orange, pink, apricot and deep red. Bougainvillea can be allowed to climb freely, trained to grow as a shrub or planted in a hanging basket. When left unchecked, this vine can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet.

Step 1

Select a 5 to 10 gallon planting container or a 12-inch hanging basket. Make sure that the container has sufficient drainage, as these plants will not do well in soil that remains too moist.

Step 2

Fill the chosen container three-fourths of the way with good quality potting soil. Plant the bougainvillea at the same level it was growing in its original container. Water until moisture begins to drip through the drainage holes.

Step 3

Place the container or basket in a location that will receive a minimum of five hours of sun each day.

Step 4

Water bougainvillea when the soil is too dry to stick to your finger. Avoid adding bits of water everyday, instead soak the plant well about once each week.

Step 5

Fertilize at every watering with a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half the strength recommended on the package.

Step 6

Prune branches back to maintain a length of 18 to 20 inches. This will prolong the blooming cycle and give an attractive appearance. Remove dead wood as soon as it is noticed. Ideal pruning time is after one wave of blooms have faded and before new blossoms begin to develop.

Step 7

Move bougainvillea indoors in fall, before the first hard freeze in your area. Place next to a sunny window, and keep the soil moist.

Tips and Warnings

  • Examine the soil often during very hot weather to prevent wilting from lack of water.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting container
  • Potting soil
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Texas A&M Extension: Growing Bougainvilleas
  • Bougainvillea Growers International: Bougainvillea Care and Maintenance
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa: Bougainvillea
  • Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation: Bougainvillea Fact Sheet
Keywords: bougainvillea, grow bougainvillea, bougainvillea care, bougainvillea vine, bougainvillea plant

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.