The Q&A Archives: Is My Bougainvilla Plant Dead?

Question: I have 8 Bougainvilla plants in my yard. 2 of them are not producing any leaves or flowers it looks dead. If i take my finger nail and scrape the stem / bark it looks like it has life. The other bougainvilla plants have been leafing and blooming now for over a month. One of the dead looking ones is a " California Gold " with yellow flowers I believe is a more fragile specimen true? They are both getting full sun just one is happy and the other....? Should I be patient and give them a chance or go shopping ?

Answer: I'd give the two bougainvilleas a little more time before tearing them out and replacing them. Green tissue just below the bark is a good sign. Prune the two sickly plants back a bit to encourage new wood. If they don't respond in another 2-3 weeks, then dig and replace them with healthy new plants. Bougainvillea resents having its roots disturbed when being transplanted. If you replace the plants, try cutting the bottom out of the container, placing the plant in a prepared planting hole, then gently pulling up on the container while you're filling in around the roots with soil. Pulling the container up over the top of the plant may break a stem or damage a few leaves, but the roots will become established more quickly and your plant will grow new leaves in a hurry. Best wishes!

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