The Q&A Archives: Care of Bougainvillea through Winter

Question: I have a Bougainvillea that I bring in the house after summer is over. When I bring it in the house, the leaves curl and turn yellow and fall off. How do I care for the plant through the fall and winter, and keep it alive for the next spring/summer season?

Answer: Bougainvillea flourishes in warm winter areas such as Hawaii and southern California, but will not winter over in your gardening region. While you can take the plant indoors during the winter months, it won't perform well unless you can provide greenhouse-like conditions (bright light, warmth and humidity). Without a greenhouse you can still keep your bougainvillea alive during the winter months but it's likely to lose its leaves. If this happens, the plant should leaf out again in the spring. You can fertilize your bougainvillea on a weekly basis with a quarter-strength dilution of liquid fertilizer to keep it growing strong. Instead of hard pruning, simply pinch out the growing tips of the shoots. This will encourage the formation of new flowering shoots. Bougainvillea does not like to have its roots disturbed so repot only when absolutely necessary (every 3-4 years). Best wishes with your bougainvillea!

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