The Q&A Archives: Bougainvillea Does Not Bloom

Question: My bougainvillia will not bloom. The plant is 19 years old and was frost damaged.

Answer: It wasn't clear to me if your plant has never bloomed in 19 years, or if it hasn't bloomed yet this spring after the frost damage, so I'll provide some basic info. Bougainvillea are tropical plants and extremely frost tender, but they rebound nicely when temperatures warm or after they are cut back. Bougainvilleas like to be a little "stressed" for water and nutrients, actually blooming better under these conditions. Let the top couple inches of soil dry out before watering and don?t overfertilize, which promotes foliage growth at the expense of flowering. In the ground, they don?t need any fertilizer; in a container no more than once per month or every other month. Use a product for blooming plants with a higher middle number, which is phosphorus, such as 5-10-5. Phosphorus promotes bloom. They also need full sun to bloom their best. Is your plant in full sun? It's likely that your plant has started leafing out again by now after suffering frost damage. You can cut back the dead portions to the fresh growth. I hope this info helps you get your bougainvillea back on track!

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