Bougainvillea, a unique climbing plant

Bougainvillea are very beautiful Mediterranean climbing shrubs.

Basic Bougainvillea facts

Name – Bougainvillea
Family – Nyctaginaceae
Type – climbing shrub

Exposure – full sun
Soil – rather light

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – May to November

Caring and pruning are important to enhance growth and blooming of your bougainvillea.

Planting bougainvillea

Bougainvillea planted in the ground

Bougainvillea can survive outdoors year-round only in mild-wintered areas. They cannot withstand temperatures below freezing.

If you live around the Mediterranean, plant it in spring in light soil.

  • Ideally, prepare one part garden soil, one part soil mix and one part sand.
  • Your bougainvillea must be planted in a warm spot and must be brought inside over winter if it freezes in your area.
  • Choose a place that is sheltered from wind and preferably along a lattice that it can climb along.

Caution – If the climate is right, a Bougainvillea planted in the ground will grow vigorously. Prune it carefully so it doesn’t get out of control.

Potted bougainvillea

Growing bougainvillea in pots is recommended everywhere temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C) during winter. You’ll have to bring them in a well-lit place where it doesn’t freeze over winter.

  • Plant your bougainvillea in flower plant soil mix.
  • Re-pot in the spring in a pot that is slightly larger than the previous.

You’ll get spectacular flowers with special bougainvillea fertilizer

Pruning bougainvillea

Pruning bougainvillea isn’t truly necessary, and cutting back drastically is even discouraged.

Flowers only appear on branches that grew in the previous year, so removing those would also remove any chance of blooming in the following year.

But it does make sense to balance the shape of the tree, or it might grow shapeless and lose appeal.
In that case, avoid pruning the entire bougainvillea: prune lightly and progressively over the years and the result will be perfect.

  • Prune it at the end of winter, when the last frosts are past.
  • Remove branches that are too long and give it a dense, shrubby shape.
  • Remove one old branch every year to renew the structure.

To boost flower-bearing, remove wilted flowers regularly (deadheading).

Water abundantly in summer, but reduce water intake in winter. Wait until the soil is dry before watering again.

  • Rediscover all climbing vines and new planting ideas here.

Caring for bougainvillea

Bougainvillea from summer to fall

A light sprig of pale pink bougainvillea flowers with a few leaves.Add liquid flower plant fertilizer regularly, about every two weeks to increase blooming.
Reduce fertilizer intake at the end of summer and stop adding it entirely at the beginning of fall.

You’ll get spectacular flowers with special bougainvillea fertilizer

Bougainvillea in fall and winter

Before frost spells hit, the plant must find cool shelter where it doesn’t freeze.

  • Best is temperatures of about 50°F (10°C).

They like greenhouses or unheated lean-ins that have as much light as possible.

Only water when the soil is dry through and through.

Bougainvillea in spring

This is the season to wake your bougainvillea up from its dormant state with regular watering.

As soon as frost spells are over, you may bring them back out.

Learn more about bougainvillea

Pink and white bougainvillea.This beautiful climbing shrub native to South America adapts very well to Mediterranean-type climates.

A tropical plant (even sub-tropical), bougainvillea only appeared in Europe at the end of the 18th century, when botanist Philibert Commerson, member of the Brazilian exploration mission, discovered this plant, which he named bougainvillea in the honor of his commander Bougainville.

As flowers go, they have thus become symbols of adventure.

Blooming is abundant from spring to the end of fall, and its dark green leaves stay on the plant all year round.

Bougainvillea are among the fragrant climbing vines.

Bougainvillea in winter

If you live in Northern regions and if it freezes in your area, you should grow it in pots so that it may be brought indoors out of the cold during winter.

For that, choose an unheated room where temperatures never drop below 45 to 50°F (8 to 10°C).

Leaves might fall off in winter after a cold spell.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your tree is dead, it actually happens quite often.

Diseases and parasites that frequently attack bougainvillea

Bougainvillea aren’t very vulnerable plants, especially if they can grow outdoors.

However, indoors, their natural growing environment must be reproduced to help it survive.

  • Regularly spraying the leaves with soft water helps recreate the high moisture levels it needs.

If leaves turn brown and curl, most probably aphids are colonizing the plant.

If leaves turn yellow suddenly, it is probably a scale insect invasion.

Smart tip about bougainvillea

To produce spectacular blooms, add special bougainvillea organic fertilizer from spring to summer.

Read also on the topic of shrubs and climbing plants


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Fuchsia pink bougainvillea by Jason Goh under Pixabay license
Pale and elegant bougainvillea by Suanpa under Pixabay license
Pink and white bougainvillea by a generous photographer under Pixabay license