How to Care for Bougainvilleas


Bougainvillea are, quite literally, the brightest stars of the plant world. Blooming in almost neon shades of pink and purple, they create vibrancy in an otherwise quiet garden. Bougainvillea is a tropical flowering vine, native to South America. Aside from the wild-colored, almost paper-like blooms, they also have thorns, so use caution if working with a mature plant.

Step 1

Plant your bougainvillea in an area that will get sunshine all day. This plant also needs warm temperatures--at least 70 degrees F in the daytime and no cooler than 60 degrees F at night.

Step 2

Amend your soil, if necessary, by mixing 2 to 3 inches of compost, rotted manure or organic mulch material into the existing soil. Mix it together well and then level the soil with the back of the shovel.

Step 3

Allow the soil to dry just slightly between waterings. It's best to keep them a little on the dry side until they start to bloom and then water frequently enough to keep the soil moist.

Step 4

Fertilize the bougainvillea with a slow-release food, applied to the soil in spring and late summer. Horticulturists at Texas A&M University suggest using hibiscus food. Always water the soil well before applying any fertilizer. Give it a good soaking.

Step 5

Check the plant frequently for caterpillars, aphids and spider mites. For infestations, contact your local cooperative extension or garden center to find out which treatments work best in your area.

Step 6

Prune the bougainvillea after it finishes blooming. Start by using pruning shears to cut off any dead or dying branches. Then, using your thumb and forefinger, or scissors, pinch 1/2 inch off the tips of any new stems.This will encourage the plant to send out new stems and grow bushier and stronger.

Things You'll Need

  • Bougainvillea plant
  • Compost, rotted manure or organic mulch
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Slow-release fertilizer or hibiscus food


  • Louisiana State University
  • Arizona State University

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University
Keywords: growing bougainvillea, tropical vines, flowering vines

About this Author

Victoria Hunter, a former broadcaster and real estate agent, has provided audio and written services to both small businesses and large corporations. Hunter is a freelance writer specializing in the real estate industry. She devotes her spare time to her other passions: gardening and cooking. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.