How to Transplant Bougainvillea


Bougainvillea is a tropical vine that grows well in warm, frost-free climates. It can grow to 30 feet high, so make sure you plant it in an area where it will have room to grow. Choose a planting site that has plenty of sun because bougainvillea blooms poorly when planted in a shady area. Bougainvilleas have a sensitive root system that can be damaged during transplanting. When you are moving a bougainvillea from a pot to the ground, use care and caution to make sure that your plant takes to its new home without suffering from the move.

Step 1

Dig a hole slightly larger then the pot where your bougainvillea is currently growing. If you live in an area that is plagued by gophers, lining the hole with chicken wire can keep the rodents from eating the root system.

Step 2

Place a handful of fertilizer in the bottom of the hole. Hibiscus plant food works best for bougainvillea.

Step 3

Remove the plant from its existing pot by grasping the base of the plant and gently wiggling it free from the pot. If it does not come out easily, you can cut the pot if it is a thin, nursery pot, or break it if it is a clay pot that you are willing to sacrifice.

Step 4

Rough up the root-ball gently, with your hands.

Step 5

Hold the bougainvillea over the prepared planting site and fill in under the root-ball with soil, so that the top of the root-ball is 1 inch below the level of the ground when the plant rests in the hole.

Step 6

Move earth in around the root-ball and cover the top with an inch of soil. Pat the earth down firmly around the bougainvillea and water thoroughly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bougainvilleas have sharp thorny branches, so make sure you wear long sleeves and heavy-duty gloves when handling this plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Shovel
  • Heavy Gloves


  • University of Florida: Bougainvillea spp.
  • UC Davis: Growing Bougainvillea as a Flowering Pot Plant
Keywords: root ball, climbing vine, tropical

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.