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How to Fertilize Bougainvillea

Red Orange Bougainvillea image by verdantspaces from

A bougainvillea is a tropical thorny vine that can grow 40 feet tall. Bougainvillea has the nickname "paper flower" because the flowers on this vine are thin and resemble paper. Having a good root system is important for the bougainvillea. If you want to ensure that your bougainvillea roots stay healthy, you will need to fertilize them on a regular basis.

Choose a 21-5-20 water-soluble fertilizer to feed your bougainvillea. Moisten the soil around your bougainvillea, but don't soak it. Plant Care advises against applying fertilizer to bougainvillea vines when the soil is dry.

Wear long clothing before working with the fertilizer, and put on any safety gear recommended on the fertilizer's product label.

Apply the fertilizer to the soil around the bougainvillea vine's roots. Texas A&M University recommends that you do this at half the strength listed on the fertilizer label.

Moisten the soil again with water from a garden hose. This will send the fertilizer down into the soil where the roots of the bougainvillea can reach it.

Repeat. Bougainvilleas need to be fertilized once per month, unlike many other plants that only require fertilization twice per year.

Move A Bougainvillea

Select a new location for the bougainvillea where it will receive a minimum of six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Make it 1 to 1 1/2 feet larger in diameter than the stems of the bougainvillea shrub. Lift the root mass with the shovel and place it on a large sheet of heavy plastic. Pick the bougainvillea up, being careful to support the root mass. Make sure the hole is large enough to contain the bougainvillea and that it will be at the same depth it was growing previously. Place the bougainvillea back into the hole and slide the plastic out from under the root mass. Spread a 2- to 3-inch depth of mulch over the root zone. Cut back to once per week in the summer and every three to four weeks in the fall.


Some of the leaves of your bougainvillea vine may fall off during the winter months. This is normal and occurs because there is less light during the winter.

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