The Q&A Archives: Wilting Leaves On Bouganvillea

Question: I can't tell if the Bouganvillea I bought seven days ago wants more water or less. The leaves have wilted but are not crisp. A few are yellow. I last watered on Monday and then we had a surprise thunderstorm. They're talking about another thunderstorm this afternoon. Should I bring it inside? Your instructions say, Once established, reduce watering. I'm new to this plant. I don't know how to tell if it's established. It's still in its Moravia container as I have a container garden.

Answer: Those instructions are given assuming it is planted in the ground. In a container, you will probably need to water it every day or every other day in the heat of summer. Wilting as you described is typically a sign of needing water desperately, especially if it is wilted in the morning.

In cooler weather or if it rains, you will water less often. In hot or windy weather you may need to water more often. Potting soils are formulated to drain quickly and yet hold moisture, it also depends on the size of the plant in relation to the size of the pot. So you will have to judge if and when to water. Use your finger to check down in the soil and see if you need to water or not. The soil should be moist but not sopping wet or saturated. Sometimes you can tell by the weight of the pot if it is on the dry side or not.

When you water, make sure the water soaks into the soil and is not running out along the edge of the pot. If it has gotten very dry it may be difficult to rehydrate the soil ball -- the water beads up and runs off rather than soaks in. If this happened, try setting it in a pan of tepid water and allow it to wick up the moisture. Then remove it and allow excess water to drain out freely.

Since this is essentially a tropical plant, you will need to bring this plant indoors for cold weather. Generally you would leave it outside all summer once it is acclimated to being outdoors it is best to leave it in place.

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