The Q&A Archives: How far back do I prune my bouganvillas?

Question: We live in the desert with frequent high winds - I have planted 16 bouganvillas around our chain link fence. This past winter it was in the 30s and we lost a few plants - several have leaves coming out at the ground level and I don't know what to prune off to encourage new growth - how do you tell what is dead and what may get new leaves on it?

Answer: Bougainvillea is frost-tender, suffering damage at 28 degrees F. However, as long as it doesn't get too cold, for too long, they usually bounce back when temperatures warm. The plants will usually show you where to cut back to--wherever the new growth is. However, don't cut back too soon, as even though plants can look brown and crispy, you may inadvertently cut off living tissue. You can also scratch a limb with your fingernail. If the tissue is green beneath, it should come back. If it's black, or dry and will snap off, it's dead. Good luck with your bougainvillea.

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