Tips on Taking Care of a Bougainvillea


The bougainvillea plant's colorful flowers are actually modified leaves or bracts surrounding smaller flowers. Pruning will determine the shape of the common bougainvillea, creating a full bush or a vine trained to wrap around trellises. The torch glow variety is erect and compact, resembling a bush-like tree. Bougainvillea bracts come in a variety of colors, such as pink, purple, red, yellow, white and orange. The shrub thrives in warm weather, tolerating drought conditions and poor soil. Frost can kill the bougainvillea. Because the bougainvillea has thorns, it is best to plant away from walkways.

Step 1

Plant the bougainvillea in full sun or high shade in well-draining soil. Don't plant in an area where the water puddles.

Step 2

Space the bougainvilleas at least 6 feet apart or at least 3 feet apart for smaller varieties.

Step 3

Wipe gardening shear blades with rubbing alcohol prior to pruning to avoid spreading fungus or bacterial infections.

Step 4

Prune the bougainvillea in the fall, cutting off dead branches and shaping the bush as personally desired.

Step 5

Cut off dead branches during the year. While major pruning should be done in the fall, cut off dead or injured branches anytime of the year.

Step 6

Allow the soil to completely dry out before irrigating. Bougainvillea prefers dry, as opposed to moist, soil conditions.

Step 7

Fertilize with water-soluble fertilizer at half strength. Bougainvilleas will grow and thrive without fertilizing, yet frequent fertilizing will increase their blooming months, which can extend to 11 months of the year.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • BGI: Bougainvillea Resource
  • Glendora Bougainvillea
  • Growing Bougainvillea
Keywords: bougainvillea care, growing bougainvillea, bougainvillea gardening tips

About this Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University of Fullerton.