Caring for a Bougainvillea - Knowledgebase Question

Norwood, ON
Avatar for dianecancil
Question by dianecancil
June 18, 2006
I just purchased a gorgeous Monrovia Purple Queen Bougainvillea tree (3.6 gal)
I have never had one and want to keep it looking wonderful. I live in zone 4 so am assuming I will need to bring it in the house this Fall. Is that correct? Are they happy being root bound or should I re-plant the tree in a larger pot? Any tips on caring for this tree would be gratefully received. Thank You !
Can this tree be pruned? When the flowers die , is dead-heading required?

Answer from NGA
June 18, 2006
You can overwinter your bougainvillea indoors. It may continue to grow and bloom or it may go into dormancy. Start by taking it indoors when nighttime temperatures hover around 50F. Place it in the sunniest spot available and water as you normally do. Expect flower bracts and leaves to drop as it adjusts to being indoors. With any luck, only a few will fall, your bougainvillea will like living indoors and will bloom and grow all winter long. Or, it may drop all of its leaves and go into dormancy. If this happens, water infrequently - only enough to keep the soil from completely drying out. Prune it back by one-third and wait for new leaf buds to appear. When they do, return to watering on a regular basis. You can then move it back outdoors when the weather warms and it should grow and bloom beautifully for you.

It is not necessary to deadhead bougainvilleas. The flowering bracts will drop on their own. But, you can certainly prune the spent flowers off. Doing so will encourage new growth which will flower within about 6 weeks.

Bougainvilleas have very sensitive roots and they resent being transplanted. You can leave your plant in its original nursery pot and sink that pot into a more decorative pot for use indoors. When it begins to become visibly rootbound you can transplant into a larger pot. Try to time transplanting so you move the plant during a dormant period. (winter months) This will lessen transplant shock.

Hope this answers all your questions. Best wishes with your bougainvillea!

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