The Q&A Archives: Underachieving Bouganvillia

Question: Three, maybe 4, years ago I purchased a pair of Monrovia bouganvillias. The plants were vining within a teepee-like structure of 3 bamboo poles. I no longer have the tags that came with the plants...sorry.

The plants have never bloomed. Further, the leaves will brown on the edges occasionally.

Yes, I live north of Chicago. In the Summer the plants are placed in a sunny location outside. I over Winter the plants in a sunny garden room. I have 2 hanging pots with bouganvillia that share this life style and do brilliantly. I also have orchids, a half dozen hibiscus tree/bushes, plus other sensitive plant material that are happy.

Early I transplanted the bouganvillia from the Monrovia supplied plastic pot to a larger ceramic pot. I also replaced the 3-legged bamboo supporting structure with a like functioning tall iron 3-legged structure.

I can send digital fotos if you would find that helpful. Send email address for that purpose.

So, what do think is happening, or not happening.

Thanks for your help!

Answer: Some bougainvilleas require heat and long summers to bloom; others will perform well with less heat. I suspect the vining bougainvilleas are either Purple Queen or Barbara Karst (both are popular as annuals in cold winter regions). These need full sunshine and a long, hot summer season to bloom well. If they are over-fertilized they tend not to flower so withhold fertilizer this season and see if that makes a difference. Brown edges on the leaves are also an indication of over-fertilization. These bougainvilleas bloom on new shoots so pruning them back or at least pinching out the tips of the stems should encourage new flowering growth. Hope so!

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