Planting bougainvilla in pots - Knowledgebase Question

Buckeye, Ar
Question by tofufingers
January 30, 2010
I live in Phoenix and want to plant bougainvilla in some containers for my balcony. Can you tell me what size planter would be best suited for a bougainvilla? Also, is there any harm in using a plastic/fiberglass container versus a ceramic or stone container? I'm on a tight budget, so was hoping to use the cheaper plastic.

Answer from NGA
January 30, 2010


Bougainvillea can adapt to growing in containers but they do not like to have their roots disturbed. Choose a container that will accommodate the roots for a very long time. A 10-15 gallon container should work. Bougainvilleas bloom best when they're slightly rootbound. Fill the container with a half and half mixture of garden soil and potting soil for best drainage, then water and feed on a regular basis. These vines are heavy feeders and respond best to feeding every week or two with ? strength water soluble fertilizer, e.g., Peter's 20-20-20, Excel 21-5-20, Miracle Grow or Rapid Grow. With part to full sun and consistent feeding, the plants will bloom at least 10 months of the year. In containers they should be watered frequently so the soil feels nicely moist but never soggy. Water thoroughly, then allow to become moderately dry between waterings. They respond extremely well to stress, such as drought and heat, and reward you with excellent bloom. Even with a tolerance for drought, however, you end up watering plants nearly every day because of the small root system. Irrigate enough at each watering so that the water comes through the drain holes in the bottom of the container. Keep in mind that containers in full sunshine can absorb too much heat, essentially cooking the roots. If the site is on a concrete patio, you might want to place the planted container into a larger decorative container and stuff some insulating material between the two containers. This will protect the roots from overheating. You can use plastic rather than terra cotta, but try to get the heaviest container you can because the top of the plant can get quite heavy and you don't want it to topple over in a windstorm. Some of the best bougainvilleas to look for are: white and lavender 'Dr. Barry', and its gold and green leaved variegated form 'Vickie'; the dark pink flowers of 'Juanita Hatten, and its new mutation with green leaves spatter painted with gold; 'Barbara Karst' with bright red to bluish crimson flowers in sun or shade, blooms very young, likes heat; 'Sundown' Apricot color, vigorous, good bloomer, heavy feeder. 'Hawaiian Torch' fuchsia, with compact bloom arranged around a spike. 'Texas Dawn' smaller pink flowers, in huge clusters, vigorous, keep cut back. 'Double Pink' clear pink and vigorous, 'Surprise' large, clear pink-white bi-color flowers, and 'Royal Purple' the most striking purple flowers on the market. Best wishes with your bougainvilleas!

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