The Q&A Archives: Bougainvillea winter care

Question: I live in the Middle South (Decatur, AL) gardening zone. I have two bougainvillea plants that are fairly large growing in containers outside. What do I need to do to protect them from winter? Do they need to be inside or covered outside? Also, should I prune them before it gets too cold as they are beginning to grow out of the large container? Also,do I need to water them during the winter months? Thank you for your assistance! Theresa Atwood

Answer: You're in zone 7, which gets too cold during the winter to leave your bougainvilleas outdoors so plan to take them inside. If they get warmth and bright light indoors, they will continue to grow and may even bloom for you. Water as you normally would. If you don't have space indoors, you can put them in a basement or garage - where it remains cold but above freezing. The plants will go dormant until spring. Water sparingly; just enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. If you're taking them inside the house, you can prune them back. They will probably lose their leaves anyway while they make the transition from outdoors to in so pruning them back will encourage healthy new growth. If you're storing them in a garage or basement, expect the leaves to fall from the branches as they go into dormancy, but don't prune them back until next spring. Hope this answers all your questions!

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