The Q&A Archives: Pruning Bougainvillea

Question: What is the best way to trim a bougainvillea? Mine are planted next to a wall and I would like to train them to climb and cover the wall, however they have gotten top-heavy and are now falling forward, all the flowers are on the ends and none in the middle. How can I get a more full flowered look?

Answer: You have described the bougainvillea's natural growth pattern. You can tie back the branches on the wall, but they get extremely heavy so you need sturdy supports. (Most of those wooden trellises will pull right out of the wall when the bogies get big.) You might want to try pruning them back before trying to secure them, or securing young shoots now before they get too out of control. You can also keep pruning back the branches to keep flowers more visible. It's not something I typically recommend because it's not good for the long-term health of the majority of plants. However, bougainvillea are extremely tough (which is why we plant them along all those hot walls!) and it can take severe pruning and still come back. Good luck!

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