The Q&A Archives: Feeding Bougainvillea

Question: I have many Bougainvillea which I carry over from year to year in containers. After searching your site I realize I am not the only person needing an annual feeding schedule to keep them blooming. Previously I have used a high middle number fertilizer, or dilute Epson Salts applications, or dilute balanced 20-20-20 with each watering. Some times I get blooms, some times not. They are mostly root bound with only top dressing in spring. Wonderfully healthy looking plants several of which have bloomed this spring, others have not. Can you give me the secret to Bougainvillea that bloom all summer?

Answer: The secret to all-season bloom of Bougainvillea is not so much in feeding, but in pinching the tips of the stems back to produce new flowering wood. Pinch back throughout the spring and summer seasons and you'll have new bracts showing as long as the plant is putting out new growth.

To keep Bougainvillea thriving, most sources recommend feeding once in the spring and once in mid-summer. Your method of a dilute liquid fertilizer at each watering is acceptable for container grown plants, so continue the practice!

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