|How to get bouganvias blooming.|
|Bougainvillea, many say, color best when somewhat pot-bound. Those planted in the garden have plenty of space for roots to stretch, giving you lots of green growth. But eventually it should color.
Most agree that the bracts color best when the plants are subjected to dry periods.
To force bougainvillea into bloom for nursery sales, growers often withhold water for up to three months. The poor plant thinks it's dying. Then the grower waters heavily, the plant thinks it has one last chance to propagate itself, so it produces a volume of flowers to launch seed for future plants.
To encourage flowering: Water and fertilize, but not heavily, during spring and summer. If a plant wilts because it is too dry, give it some water. Use a high-potash fertilizer, such as a hibiscus fertilizer, rather than a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Apply about a tablespoon of hibiscus fertilizer every three to four weeks. Or use a specially formulated bougainvillea fertilizer. A tablespoon of Epsom salts when you fertilize can be beneficial, too.
Stop fertilizing during late fall and winter; water only when you see a slight wilt. Large, container-grown plants can be pruned so they can more easily be stored in the garage to protect the roots from below-freezing weather. Or prune plants in early spring. Return potted bougainvillea to a full-sun location in spring and resume monthly fertilizing.
Prune long trailing stems back 20-30 inches to encourage more color - the flowers and bracts form on new wood.
Plants will flower for weeks, then rest before blooming again.
Some bougainvillea varieties benefit, too, from long nights and short days and bloom best in fall. Those gardeners who have exhausted all tricks to encourage color should make sure the reluctant plant is not exposed to light at night. You might just have a variety that is a fall performer.