Ask a Question forum: Bougainvillea Advice

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Los Angeles, CA
mhocalate
Feb 26, 2018 5:33 PM CST
I have a large (I think quite old) bougainvillea in my front yard that I need some advice on.

Currently it's been trimmed into kind of a hedge shape (See photos) and I was hoping for more of a natural look and wanted to maximize flowering.

I've already trimmed quite a bit lower down (it was really overgrown) but I'm not sure what/how much to do with the top

Any suggestions on pruning - how much? Where? How far down to the main stems can I cut without hurting the plant? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

(I'm in Los Angeles, zone 10a)

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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Feb 26, 2018 6:21 PM CST
I don't think you could hurt it if you cut it at ground level! I just cut mine back by half a few weeks ago, and it's leafing out fast. I usually let mine bloom it's heart out in the spring, before taking the hedge trimmer to it. but if you want continuous blooms, you need to skip the trimmers and trim out select branches by hand cutting/pinching so you are leaving some mature branches to bloom, and train it to the shape you want.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Feb 27, 2018 1:00 PM CST
Here in Florida we can cut them way back with no ill effects. Hurricane Irma took one of mine alongside the front of my garage door and blew it over. It was way too top Heaney to stand it straight up. I trimmed it from the six to eight foot range and trimmed it back to 18".
I could then stand it upright, staked it and now it looks real good. You would have no idea that it was compromised at all.
Just be mindful of those thorns!
From your photo, I would trim everything back off of the window, shape the stuff against the wall and remove everything that is going towards the door. I think that this would meet your needs I am guessing in that both the window and doorway would be clear allowing them both to be free from bougainvillea??
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Feb 27, 2018 1:47 PM CST
When I was still working, I used to pass one of the commercial growers that had them planted along their chain link fence. They cut them back to skeletons every year, and by late spring they covered 1/4 mi. of fence.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Feb 27, 2018 1:55 PM CST
I have some in AZ that get cut to about a foot off the ground every year. They grow back quickly and always look beautiful very quickly.
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Los Angeles, CA
mhocalate
Feb 27, 2018 3:52 PM CST
Thanks for all the advice!
So when it does grow back, does it just grow up from the cut stump?
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Judge
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
BigBill
Feb 27, 2018 4:09 PM CST
It will sprout all along the older wood. High, low and in between.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Feb 27, 2018 5:14 PM CST
I agree
Name: meera
san fernando - trinidad, west
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meera
Feb 27, 2018 8:30 PM CST
It grows back from the old stump but if you want to have the top like a muffin top and less nearer the ground levels, then you're gonna have to prune the lowers leaves. I cut mine down every full moon or so - depending on the weather - leaving one small branch just in case. This is in order to strengthen the main branch to take the weight of the design that I want which is a mushroom like tree.
My neighbor - whom I got the idea from used a mesh wire a skeleton for the tree to grow into - it made it easier to shape as the mesh was in basic idea of the design - which was an arch over the main doorway entrance.

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