The Q&A Archives: Weird bougainvilleas

Question: Dear Experts:

I have five Rosenka bougainvilleas in large pots in my back yard. All came from you through my landscape architect. They arrived about four feet high, with all the foliage at the top. I've had them for about 6-8 months. Because I am training them to a pergola (and thus can never repot them, I had the landscaper drill a few extra drainage holes to allow the roots to enter the soil. They are still relatively potbound, as bougainvilleas like that.

I've grown lots of bougainvilleas in the past and am used to bougainvilleas that have leaves virtually all the time and flowers most of the time (I realize that flowers are really specialized leaves on the bougainvilleas.)

However, these Rosenkas are different. They have leaves for a while. Then they have tons of blooms for a while. Then they are naked for a long, long while. Then they get leaves again. THe cycle just goes on and on. They have pretty good linear growth up onto the pergola.

Why is this? Is this a characteristic of the varietal? What can I do to change them into green virtually all the time and blooms attached most of the time?

I've asked my landscape architect and he's stumped.

My back yard is only 23 x 33 feet and is visible from my living area, so I need the maximum bang for the buck. As well, the pergola covers a pool and I prefer plants that will shed less rather than more over it. Everything else in the little area looks like it came out of a magazine, except for my dear scraggly bourgainvilleas.

If I need to take these out and put in another variety, I will. On the other hand, if I need to just be patient for another year, that's fine too.

I'd appreciate your help!

Thanks. Dixie Swanson

Answer: Dixie,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. We are transitioning to a new Q&A system and your question was unfortunately lost in the transition. I have discovered it now and hope this reply is not too late to be of help.

Your bougainvilleas are indeed acting rather strange. However, it is not unusual for that plant to drop leaves when subjected to soggy wet or dry conditions. I wonder if the pots are drying out too much or if the drainage is still not good despite the extra holes (unlikely).

Other than watching the water I don't know anything else to suggest. Since they appear to be growing well I would just wait and watch. Hopefully they will stop this nonsense and settle in and grow right!

Cycles of bloom is common on most bougainvillea varieties.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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