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How to Prune Bougainvillea

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017

Gardeners living in warm regions often add lovely bougainvillea flowers to outdoor landscapes, either in containers or as large hedge plants growing directly in the soil. Even gardeners who do not live in regions that stay warm year-round can successfully grow bougainvillea plants if they take them indoors over the winter to protect them from cold temperatures. Prune a bougainvillea plant regularly to encourage prolific flowering and bush growth.

Perform “soft pinch” pruning on a bougainvillea plant any time of the year to promote bushier, lateral branches. Use your index finger and thumb to pinch off the top 1/2 inch of new growth you find on stems. The stem will snap off easily. This pruning technique will encourage the bougainvillea plant to send out new stems from just below the point where you pinched.

Prune back bougainvillea in containers when the plants are finished blooming. Use pruning shears to cut back all of the stems so they reach just past the edges of the container. This will keep control of container-grown bougainvillea and prevent them from becoming overgrown or unshapely.

Use pruning shears to cut back bougainvillea plants using the “hard pinch” technique immediately prior to moving them indoors if you live in a cold climate. “Hard pinching” is when a gardener removes almost all of the branches from a bougainvillea plant so it does not extend past the container. The bougainvillea plant will recover from this pruning and grow with renewed vigor, ready to blossom energetically.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves


  • Bougainvillea grow best in full sun in areas getting at least five hours of sunlight daily. Indoors or in shadier spots, they won't bloom as well.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.