Bougainvillea is a beautiful plant, and one that enhances the appearance of everything it is near. If you have expectantly planted a Bougainvillea, or inherited one, you may be desperately waiting for it to flower – and wondering why it does not! What to do when you want to know how to keep Bougainvillea blooming? You read on for our best tips, that’s what!
What You'll Learn Today
What are Bougainvillea flowers?
Bougainvillea is a striking plant, and one that you will want to have at its best so you can enjoy the lovely flowers. But did you know that the brightly coloured “flowers” are not really flowers at all?
The flowers themselves are actually small, white and not very exciting to look at – but they are surrounded by gorgeous purplish pink bracts, which is what gives Bougainvillea its colourful reputation. With the right treatment and care, you can encourage your Bougainvillea to “flower” spectacularly.
How do you get Bougainvillea to bloom?
This is a sun loving plant, that needs at least 6 hours of full sun every day, in order to produce those beautiful blooms for which it is famed.
If it is planted in a place where it does not get the requisite amount of sun then you won’t see any flowers at all! You can consider moving the pot, or, if it is planted in the ground you can still move it, but take care – moving a well established plant can stress it out and cause it to die completely.
Add more of the right fertiliser – using a specific Bougainvillea fertiliser will help your plant no end, as it will provide all the right nutrients that the plant needs to grow.
For normal growth, a Nitrogen based fertiliser is ideal, but when the flowers start to show, or when you are trying to encourage blooms, go for a Potassium based feed.
The right kind of soil is also vital for Bougainvillea to flower well. They need a slightly acidic soil, and one that is rich and freely draining.
Why is my Bougainvillea not flowering?
There are many reasons why this plant may not be producing spectacular blooms:
- Not enough water. It won’t appreciate being waterlogged, but it does need a good drink every now and then. Water it well, but not too heavily, during long hot periods.
- Too much water. If the plant thinks it’s in danger of dying, it may produce more blooms. You could try withholding water for a while – as long as the plant itself doesn’t start to wilt and die!
- The wrong type of fertiliser. Bougainvillea don’t respond too well to high nitrogen feed, so look for a fertiliser that doesn’t contain too much, at least when you are trying for flowers.
- Excessive pruning. You should only prune your Bougainvillea in the spring, before too much new growth has arrived, to avoid stressing the plant too much, or accidentally snipping off flower buds.
- Not enough pruning. Bougainvillea only flowers on fresh growth, so if you haven’t given it a trim for a while then flower production may become sluggish.
- Too much night light. Bougainvillea respond to being properly dark at night, so you could cover your plant with a sack in the longer summer nights, to encourage flowering by making the plant think winter is coming.
- Too cold. These plants are not especially tolerant to long periods of excessively cold weather, so it is important to keep them covered and protected in the winter.
How to encourage Bougainvillea to flower
- Move it to a sunny position. Bougainvillea needs a lot of sun to produce colour. If it is in a pot, you can easily move it to a sunnier position, while if it is planted in the ground you can trim back other plants around it to help it get more light.
- Don’t overwater. Bougainvillea come from dry places, so they thrive with less water than many other plants. You should allow the soil to dry out completely between watering, to mimic this plant’s favourite habitat.
- Prune correctly. Bougainvillea only flowers on new wood, so giving it a good trim in the early spring should encourage beautiful blossoms.
- Fertilise well. This plant needs a lot of feed, but it has to be the right type. Look for a fertiliser that is specific to Bougainvillea – this will contain extra iron and other nutrients, and it shouldn’t be high in nitrogen when you are trying for a good growth of flowers.
- Withhold water. A trick used by some nurseries is to avoid watering the Bougainvillea at all for several months, then give it a good drenching. This will shock the plant into trying to reproduce, so you should get flowers and coloured bracts popping up all over the plant.
Bougainvillea is a truly beautiful plant, with striking colours that can really enhance the look of your garden. If you have a plant that isn’t flowering and you are looking for how to keep Bougainvillea blooming, then there are lots of options available to you.