The Q&A Archives: Container Planting a Bougainvillea

Question: I want to plant 1 or more bougainvillea in container(s) on my west-facing patio. There is a brick wall about 3 feet high, so that the container would not be in the sun all day, but the trellises that I want to train the bougies to will be (in the sun all day). The trellises will 2x8 lattice trellises, with the plant(s) in front (back of trellis facing the sun). Will this work? To (eventually) cover the 2 trellis, are 2 bougies enough? What size container for a bougie in a 5-gal nursery pot? Thank you for your advice. Jean

Answer: Bougainvilleas will adapt to growing in containers, and should thrive since the roots will be protected from hot summer sunshine. (A huge concern with containers in hot summer areas is that the roots can cook when sun shines directly on the container.) I'd give the bougainvillea plenty of room to grow. Once they become established they grow like wildfire. They will spread up and out a good 6' per season; you can prune them back hard to make them behave and not take over the entire yard. Since bougainvilleas do not like having their roots disturbed, I'd start with a large container (minimum 15-gallon or even a half-whiskey barrel). Fill the container with a mixture of garden soil and potting soil (straight garden soil will be hard to keep adequately moist; straight potting soil will make the container too light and a top-heavy plant can blow over in a wind storm). Be sure to keep your bougainvillea well watered the first season so it can develop a good root system. After that, water deeply once or twice a week, depending upon weather.

Best wishes with your bougainvillea!

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