The Q&A Archives: Bougainvillea

Question: Bougainvillea: I live in a zone 4/5 area so I cannot leave this out during our winter. I saw a small shrub type bougainvillea from your shop, however, I did not get the exact name. It is quite lovely, and would like to know how to overwinter it in the house if possible. Christina

Answer: Bougainvillea won't tolerate freezing temperatures so you should plan to bring it indoors to a very bright and sunny window at normal room temperature to keep it blooming, or you can overwinter it in a cooler location and let it rest. To keep it blooming, gradually move it indoors to to the brightest place you have. A greenhouse is best, followed by a room with south or west windows. You will water and fertilize a bit less as it naturally slows its growth in response to the shorter days. Trim it back in winter after the current bloom cycle is finished. Otherwise you can leave it outdoors until it becomes chilled (temperatures around 50 degrees) then bring it indoors to rest for the winter in a cool (55 to 60 degrees or so) but bright location. Cut it back and water just enough to keep the soil from going bone dry. Do not fertilize while it is resting. In early spring, move it to a brighter and slightly warmer spot, water and fertilize a bit and wait for it to begin growing again. Get it back outside in the real sunlight when temperatures settle, as soon as you can, to maximize the sun exposure. Often this means setting it outside in the daytime and bringing it inside overnight. As it comes into active growth resume regular watering and fertilizing. Do not repot it unless it is truly rootbound as it resents being moved.

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