Bougainvillea is an ideal addition to any garden or landscape, especially if you want to use the plant for privacy or coverage. It is a flowering evergreen shrub with climbing habits, and blooms in colors ranging from violet pink to creamy white. It flowers from late fall to spring, and can bloom repeatedly in many climates. Bougainvillea can be difficult to prune because some varieties have sharp thorns, but it can be done successfully with a few things kept in mind.
Wear the heavy-duty work gloves (ideally, elbow length) if your variety has thorns. Prune around the top of the bougainvillea with pruning shears or loppers (depending on how large your shrub is). Cut it to the desired height and shape.
Examine the interior of the bougainvillea so you can decide where to thin it out. Pay special attention to removing any crossed branches that rub against one another or are not outward-facing. Remove branches that seem overcrowded so proper air circulation and sunlight can reach every part of the shrub.
Cut out any diseased branches or canes. After you cut these out, sanitize the shears with rubbing alcohol.
Hold the pruning shears parallel, trimming away canes from the front, sides and back of the bougainvillea. This will help shape the shrub and give it an even appearance.