The Q&A Archives: Its Green And Leafy, But No More Flowers For My Bougainvillea?

Question: I have had a problem lately with my Bougainvillea. It is a pruned tree shape, and is planted in a fairly large container on a bright western wall. In the winter it exploded with color and lost all of its flowers. Normal, right? But when the buds and leaves started appearing again, the buds and young leaves are bumpy and deformed, eventually becoming normal looking (slowly) but there are NO flowers on it appearing. Is this normal? Should I just wait longer for the flowers to appear?

Answer: Deformed leaves are not normal on a bougainvillea. You might want to check for insects - aphids feeding on the unopened buds, or scale insects sucking the juices out of the stems could cause distortion. Big fluctuations in soil moisture, or over-fertilization could also cause deformed foliage. Bougainvilleas should be fed in early spring and again in early summer with an all-purpose garden food (applied at rates listed on the label). It's easy to over-fertilize containerized plants, so you might be better off feeding with a diluted liquid fertilizer (half-strength, every other time you water). Water thoroughly each time you water, applying slowly to allow it to trickle down and wet the entire root mass. Check your plant carefully for signs of insects and control by pruning, hand-picking, or hosing them off with a strong stream of water. Hope the above helps restore health to your bougainvillea!

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