Bougainvillea is a hardy, versatile vine that can be trained to grow along a trellis or fence, or pruned and shaped into a bush. Dwarf varieties adjust well to container growing and are suitable for bonsai. It can be a challenge to get your bougainvillea to bloom, but otherwise it is an easy plant to care for with few pest or disease problems. With careful attention to sunlight and water requirements, you can keep your bougainvillea blooming year after year.
Plant the bougainvillea plant in full to partial sun. Adequate sunlight is critical for flower development.
Allow soil to dry out slightly between waterings, but not to the point of wilting or shedding leaves. Don't let the soil get too wet and don't place sprinklers close enough to constantly hit the bougainvillea.
Fertilize with a 20-20-20, slow-release fertilizer to provide continuous nutrition, or apply soluble houseplant fertilizer every two weeks from spring to fall and once every 4 to 6 weeks during the winter.
Prune after your bougainvillea's flowering cycle is finished to shape or cut back a plant that is getting too big. Cut the tips of new growth just above the base of the leaf. New shoots will grow in the direction of the angle you prune. Shape the plant however you like, but remember that the more you prune, the fewer flowers you'll get in the next cycle.
Remove dead wood in late winter or early spring after the last freeze. While cold tolerant, bougainvillea will drop leaves if it freezes. Prevent freezing by covering the plant with a sheet or blanket. If the bougainvillea is potted, bring it inside. Preventing freezing will allow you to retain the bougainvillea's shape.