The Q&A Archives: Repotting newly purchased indoor trees

Question: This summer I purchased a Monrovia bougainvillia and a Monrovia lime tree - both tropicals that will need to be brought indoors for the winter due to our cold climate. My question is should I repot either of them or leave them in their original containers? They are both about 4 feet tall. The lime is doing fine but the bougainvillia looks sick - yellowing leaves, no flowers, etc.

Answer: Neither needs to be repotted prior to taking them indoors this winter. In fact, bougainvillea resents having its roots disturbed, so don't repot until absolutely necessary (when roots begin creeping out of the drainage holes). Bougainvilleas are rather tender plants and can develop yellowing foliage due to cold night temperatures, too much or too little water, or sometimes for no reason at all. I'd water thoroughly, then allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Your plants will need bright light to perform well indoors. You can prune the bougainvillea back (it will tend to get leggy indoors). Pruning the stems back will encourage healthy new growth. Bougainvilleas bloom on a 5-6 week cycle. They rest for a while after flowering, then they make a growth spurt. If you prune immediately after the flowers are spent, the new growth should produce new flowers. Best wishes with your plants!

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