The Q&A Archives: Purple Queen Bougainvillea

Question: I just got a beautiful Monrovia Purple Queen Bougainvillea tree approx. 3 1/2 feet tall. While taking it out of the container to plant, I damaged the roots (now after reading all of the FAQs I see that can be fatal). Only 1/2 of the 5 gal. container root/soil came out with the tree. Is there anything special I should do to try to ease the stress that I caused?

Answer: Bougainvillea roots do not knit the soil together and therefore are quite susceptible to damage when being transplanted. The best way to plant without disturbing the roots too much is to cut away the bottom of the pot and place the pot in the planting hole. Then carefully pull the pot up over the top of the plant, all the while filling the area around the roots with soil. It's easier than it sounds and if you damage a few leaves in the process, it won't matter a bit to the plant. I think your bougainvillea will recover, but it might be a very slow process. While the plant is generating new roots the top may look quite stressed. Just water your plant on a regular basis while it recovers and don't feed it until new stems and leaves begin to develop. You can trim away any dead stems or branches once new growth begins. Good luck with your plant!

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