Bougainvillea is a shrub-like, tropical vine which can burst forth with vibrant and colourful flowers for all most all months of the year, especially when you grow it the right method and climate. To plant bougainvillea, there are some required conditions such as relatively dry and hot climate, well-drained and slightly acidic soil, and full sun.
Also, it is necessary to care for your bougainvillea plants by watering it sparingly, pruning at the season’s end, fertilising on a regular basis, and many more. While this might require a lot of effort and hard work, you can save time with the right techniques and knowledge.
Keep reading to know how to grow bougainvillea properly in the UK to have beautiful flowers all year round.
Decide where to grow your bougainvillea plant
Before planting, keep in mind that bougainvillea typically thrives in those areas which are relatively dry and hot. If you are living in a wet and cold zone, it is advisable to grow your plants in pots and bring them indoors during the winter. Otherwise, it won’t withstand and survive harsh conditions. In these cases, it is advisable to place it in low light areas or the basement.
To keep bougainvillea in outdoor places all year long, it is best to be in zone 9 or higher. Bougainvillea grows well when night temperatures do not drop below 16 degrees, and daytime temperatures do not exceed 38 degrees.
Since bougainvillea enjoys sunlight and grows best under the full sun, you should position it to face due south (if you live in the UK). It requires at least 6 hours of sun every day to develop and thrive.
Choose an area with well-drained and fertile soil
Bougainvillea can’t grow well in a soil which keeps too much water. Thus, keep in mind your garden is well drained. Consider adding some vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, or sand to improve the soil. Also, it is a good idea to plant your bougainvillea on sloped places to help enhance the drainage. As for the pH level, the ideal range should be from 5.5 to 6.0, which is relatively acidic. If necessary, you can add sulphur to reduce the pH level and add limestone to raise this level.
Plant your bougainvillea
Dig a deep hole in the soil to make sure it can accommodate the root ball of your bougainvillea plant. Add a fertiliser with a high level of phosphate to the hole to allow for better root growth and aid in flowers blooming. Lift up the bougainvillea from the container, tickle its roots, and wet its root ball to the hole. Gently pat the surrounding soil of the plant’s base.
If you want your bougainvillea plant to climb a wall or trellis, keep in mind to grow it near the surface. When it grows, you will have to warp and train it to develop around the structure. If you grow your bougainvillea in a pot or container, it is advisable to select one with a lot of drainage holes because this plant can’t develop well in wet conditions.
Letting the soil in your garden or pot dry out might cause the bougainvillea plants to be stressed out. On the other hand, they would weaken quickly with too much watering, which eventually leads to the replacement of all leaves for flowers. Therefore, it is essential to figure out a suitable level of water which is enough to retain the dampness in the soil, but not too much to leave your plant waterlogged.
Keep in mind to allow the top 5 to 8 centimetres of the ground to dry before watering. A simple way to check it is sticking your finger in the soil up to the knuckle. Do not water until the soil gets dried to this point.
Fertilise on a regular basis
To keep the bougainvillea flowers blooming at all times, you should feed it fertiliser once every three or four months. If you don’t have time and money for that, then once per year is acceptable, especially at the spring’s beginning, to pave the way for season’s growth. Excess fertilising could cause the plants to grow rather vigorously, so when you notice that it is developing too large, it is necessary to reduce the amount of fertiliser immediately.
Most gardeners often go with a 2:1:2 or a 1:1:1 fertiliser for fertilising instead of the high-phosphate type often used for planting. Slow-release or organic fertilisers are the best options for bougainvillea.
Prune your bougainvillea
An important thing to know is that bougainvillea is a prolific grower and needs good pruning to keep a pretty shape and force blooming. After it has finished the blooming season, you need to cut it back a couple of inches. This would help ensure healthy growth during the spring. It is necessary to wear safety gloves while pruning bougainvillea. Some gardeners could suffer from a skin rash which is caused by the sap (not the stems or leaves). The sign of this problem is quite similar to that of poison ivy.
Train your bougainvillea
A bougainvillea plant needs support to cover a fence, wall, or other areas. If you want your plant to develop in a specific vertical spot, then you need to hang rows of string or wire against the covered surface. Also, tuck its branches behind those guidance supports with regular intervals. Keep a close eye on the growth of your bougainvillea and make any adjustment if necessary until it starts covering the fence, wall, or other surfaces.