How to Grow a Bougainvillea


Bougainvillea, a tropical woody vine native to South America, features large, colorful blooms, attractive evergreen foliage and thorny stems that climb over hillsides and other plants. The vine's brightly-colored blooms appear throughout the year, though it produces the most intense color during late winter and early spring. Bougainvillea tolerates drought and heat, but cannot grow in cold climates because of its tropical nature. Hardy in USDA zones 9 through 12, bougainvillea thrives in warm areas of the country, but must grow indoors through the winter in cooler zones.

Step 1

Plant bougainvillea in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. Select a location that consists of well-drained soil and receives full sunlight throughout the day. Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost over the area and incorporate into the soil with a garden tiller before planting.

Step 2

Dig a hole in the soil of equal depth and twice as wide as the plant's root ball, using a shovel. Insert the root system into the hole and gently backfill with soil. Water thoroughly to compact the soil and stimulate new growth.

Step 3

Water the plant once every five days during spring, once every seven days during summer and once every 10 to 14 days during fall and winter. Soak the soil to a depth of about 6 inches at each application to ensure the roots absorb enough water.

Step 4

Feed bougainvillea twice per year, once during early spring as new growth begins and again in midsummer, using an all-purpose 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer's dosage and application directions for the best results.

Step 5

Prune immediately after flowering ends to improve the plant's aesthetic appeal and overall health. Cut back overgrown limbs with pruning shears to promote a compact growth habit. Remove suckers and dead wood any time of year, as needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Shovel
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Bougainvillea
  • Easy Bloom: Bougainvillea
  • "Arizona Gardener's Guide;" Mary Irish; 2001

Who Can Help

  • United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: grow bougainvillea vine, bougainvillea plant care, tropical bougainvillea plant

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including