The Q&A Archives: What Is The Best Way To Save This Bougainvillea?

Question: We purchased several bougainvillea and put them in pots in front of our house. The plants were all doing well until one blew over in a storm. All of the leaves have dried up but there appears to be some new growth. What we noticed when the plant blew over was that the roots don't seem to have expanded outside of the ball that was in the original container. Would it be better to cut this plant back? Would it be better to plant it in the ground instead of in a pot?

Answer: It sounds as if your plant is root bound. You can either repot it or plant it in the ground, but you need to gently untangle the roots and spread them out. Otherwise, they will continue to wrap around themselves until they form an impenetrable mass. Bogies can take alot of abuse. They thrive in full sun, and bloom better with little water and no fertilizer if they're in the ground. (In pots, they would need more water and occasional fertilizer, as their roots can't expand outwards.) However, the mature plants do need room to expand, as their branches can reach 10-12 feet easily, and their thorns are treacherous! You can also cut them back quite severely, and they will return. You might want to trim this one back a bit to make it easier to replant. Good luck!

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