How to Prune a Bougainvillea


In their natural preferred tropical climate, bougainvilleas are hardy plants that respond well to frequent pruning. If you live in a tropical climate, your bougainvilleas will grow abundantly outdoors. If you live in a colder climate, you will have to keep bougainvilleas indoors during the winter. The abundant flowers come in a variety of vibrant colors from pinks and reds to purple and orange. Bougainvillea make wonderful barriers and natural fences, but a little pruning is necessary to keep them from taking over.

Step 1

Use a soft-pinch pruning method on tender green shoots before they become hard and woody. Pinch off the new growth where you want your plant to put out more shoots in one area. The soft pinch can be done whenever new growth is present. Use this method when you want to create a fuller, bushier plant.

Step 2

A hard-pinch pruning method refers to pruning off the long woody stems of the plant. Use the hard pinch to prune off long gangly branches at any time of year. The hard pinch pruning method is best if you are preparing to store your bougainvillea indoors for the winter or if you want to control the shape of your plant.

Step 3

This hardy vine can be trained to stand flat against a wall, form an archway around a trellis or climb a wall. If you are trying to train your bougainvillea to grow into a desired shape, wire some of the long branches to the fence or trellis and prune off the rest.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bougainvilleas have sharp thorns that make pruning a large plant often a bit of a battle. Wear thick gloves and protective clothing for this task.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp pruning shears
  • Heavy leather gloves


  • Plant Life: Bougainvilleas
Keywords: prune bougainvillea, flowering vine, train vine on trellis

About this Author

Pricilla Bell has been a freelance copywriter and journalist for five years. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine with noted herbalist Susan Parker. Pricilla Bell is currently pursuing a degree from Boston University. Bell has been working with Demand Studio since March 2009 writing articles about herbal and alternative medicine.