Non-flowering Bougainvillea - Knowledgebase Question

Denver, CO
Avatar for cmcilhany
Question by cmcilhany
July 11, 2005
I just bought a bougainvillea plant which has no blooms, so I don't know if it bloomed recently or not. It's in a pot and I'm going to keep it in the pot. Should I prune it now, or simply wait until it blooms again? I don't know if it will rebloom if I don't prune it now. Also, should I water it sparingly, to let it dry out to encourage new blooms? Thanks.

Answer from NGA
July 11, 2005
These tropical members of the Nyctaginaceae (Four-O'Clock) family, are very vigorous, evergreen, woody vines with spines. Although normally climbers, they can be trained to stay bushy as pot plants, hanging baskets, or as standard 3 or 4 feet high. They will bloom beautifully on branches on 18"-20" long. Keep all long shoots cut back to 18"-20" for best bloom. The vibrant color of this vine comes not from the small white tubular flowers, but from the 3 large paper-like bracts that surround each flower.

Bougainvilleas bloom on new wood, on a 4 week cycle. The best practice is to prune immediately after flowering to encourage the development of new flowering wood. Since you don't know whether or not your plant has recently flowered, you can wait a few weeks to see if it will flower, or you can prune it back now and expect it to flower in about four weeks.

These plants flower best under stress. Keep the plant slightly on the dry side, and allow the plant to become root bound. These vines are heavy feeders and respond best to almost constant feeding with 1/2 strength water soluble fertilizer, such as Peter's 20-20-20, Excel 21-5-20, Miracle Grow or Rapid Grow. With high light and constant feeding, the plants will bloom at least 11 months of the year. Straight hibiscus food has also been a very successful fertilizer.

Best wishes with your new bougainvillea!

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