The Q&A Archives: Bougnavillias

Question: I bought 3 hanging baskets of bougnavillias, in full bloom. While the plants are healthy, strong and growing like crazy, none have re-bloomed. What can I do?

Answer: Amy,

In the tropics bougainvilleas bloom almost continuously. There the day and night cycles are more even. Here in the coastal south our long summer days seem to discourage them from forming the blooms we so want to see. They bloom better for us in spring, fall and even winter if they are in a warm greenhouse. Their bloom cycle lasts a little over a month. After this the blooms or bracts fall off and the plant cycles through a period of a 6-8 weeks during which it grows leaves and shoots but not blooms. Then it will often enter another bloom period.

According to the Florida Extension Service, for the best performance out of your Bougainvillea, follow these guidelines:
Keep Bougainvillea on the dry side, especially if you want lots of blooms. Too much water will promote root rot and cause leaves to drop. Don't water on cool nights.
Use a high-bloom fertilizer.
Plant or place Bougainvillea in full sun. As a potted plant, flowers will last for up to eight weeks if kept in a sunny location.
Winter dieback may be a problem if the weather gets too cool, so if you're growing Bougainvillea in a frost-prone area, plant in a protected location or cover in case of frost.
Bougainvillea blooms occur only on new growth, so new growth on plants is vital to the achievement of flowering. Bougainvillea normally flowers during the short days of winter, but blooms are highly dependent on temperature. Drought stress can also stimulate flowering even with long daylight exposure. Growers frequently allow plants to dry just to the point of wilting to induce flowering. However, excessive drying can cause leaf drop and dormancy; use care and be sure to water at first signs of wilt.

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