The Q&A Archives: Non-Blooming Bougainvillea

Question: I have a Bougainvillea that I bought from a nursery.It was a very large, spread out, and beautiful. I've had them in the past and never had trouble with them, but this one never had a single bloom on it. I fertilized it and it still didn't bloom. What is wrong?

Answer: You may have to stress your bougainvillea a bit to coax itm to bloom, says Harry Leuzinger, co-owner of Plumeria People, grower of more than 25 varieties of bougainvillea. Usually, bougainvilleas are free-blooming, putting out a flush of flowers starting in late summer. But some varieties can be late- or finicky bloomers, explains Leuzinger. Try the following wilt method to stimulate bloom formation. After the main flush of new leaves emerge in spring, cut back on water until the leaves hang straight down during midday. Give the plants only enough water each morning to prevent them from completely drying out. Don't worry if the leaves drop - your bougainvilleas will still be okay. Continue this procedure for two weeks, thenbegin watering daily, followed by a monthly application of a low-phosphorus, high-potassium time-release fertilizer such as 17-7-10 at a rate of one tablespoon per gallon container size. The plants should bloom well while you are fertilizing them, saysLeuzinger. Keep watering and feeding on this schedule until new leaf growth appears after flowering. If you are still having problems, try growing a free-flowering variety such as 'Barbara Karst', advises Leuzinger.

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