The Q&A Archives: Bougainvillea

Question: We have 4 bouganvillea shrubs growing up our patio posts. They receive plenty of sun and heat. They are not producing as many flowers as I thought that they would. Just the green leaves. I would like to see them full of their wonderful purple flowers. Why aren't they producing more flowers? Do we need to fertilize them? We water them regularly. They are over 6 feet tall now.

Answer: Bougainvilleas bloom best when they are slightly stressed. Potbound container plants and in-ground plants living in marginally poor conditions seem to be among the best blooming specimens.

Cut back on fertilizer and water enough to keep it going but not luxuriously growing. It should settle down and start blooming in time. Pruning will force the development of new flowering shoots so pinch and prune the tips out of your plants.

Some people take the drastic measure of root pruning to get their plants to bloom. This is done by forcing a shovel into the soil in 4 locations a foot or two away from the base of the plant, thereby cutting some of the roots. I would only do this as a last resort, such as if it wasn't back in bloom by next spring.

Good luck with your bougainvillea!

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