Bougainvillea care: pruning, fertilising & watering


For many years now, I have been growing various vegetables as a hobby in my spare time, which is what ultimately led me to studying horticulture. I find it fascinating to watch as plants grow from seed to fruit and to then finally be able to make use of the literal fruits of my labour.

Favourite fruit: Strawberries and cherries
Favourite vegetable: Potatoes, tomatoes and garlic

For maximum flowering, the beautiful bougainvillea must be cared for. We have valuable care tips for you and your bougainvillea.

Gloves, secateurs and bougainvillea
Proper care is the be-all and end-all for lush blooms [Photo: oldbunyip/]

The bougainvillea, originally native to South America, has long held a place in the hearts of many amateur gardeners. The plant is particularly popular because of its beautiful bracts, which, with the right care, thrive again vigorously every year. But how to properly care for the exotic bougainvillea? We show you everything you need to know from watering, fertilising, to pruning.

Bougainvillea care: watering

Optimal water supply of a bougainvillea is essential for growth during the summer and should not be neglected. Always keep the substrate slightly moist so that the soil never dries out completely. But do not worry: if you forget to water for a short time or no one can be found during the vacation, the plant will not die immediately. Leaf loss should still be expected if drought conditions persist. Just like lack of water, you should also avoid waterlogging in the tropical plant to prevent root rot. During overwintering, be sure to keep watering to a minimum, otherwise it may harm the plant.

sunflowers painted on a wateringcan
Optimal water supply for a bougainvillea is essential for growth during the summer [Photo: lauradibi/]

Fertilising bougainvillea

A lack of nutrients can occur in the bougainvillea – as with many other potted plants – and will limit growth as well as flowering. Therefore, the use of different fertilisers can be quite useful. We present everything important you need to know about fertilising a bougainvillea.

Red bougainvillea flowers
With the right fertilisation, you will be rewarded with a brilliant display of flowers [Photo: Phrachan/]

How often and how much to fertilise?

A good way to quickly provide fresh nutrients is to repot the plant after it has overwintered. Commercial and peat-free potting soil is very suitable for transplanting, mixing compost or compost soil further improves the soil properties. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Flower Compost is already enriched with all important nutrients and offers your bougainvillea optimal starting conditions.

What is the best fertiliser?

The use of compost, as well as other organic fertilisers, is useful for bougainvillea for many reasons. On the one hand, it is always the more environmentally friendly option, which also provides nutrients over a longer period than mineral liquid fertilisers. In addition, this way you can avoid overfertilising and protect the plant roots from being burnt by mineral salts. A plant-based fertiliser such as our Plantura Flower Food is also a very good choice for bougainvillea.

Flower Food, 1.5kg
Flower Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for flowering plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • For healthier plants with beautiful & long-lasting blossoms
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Pruning bougainvillea

The branches are brown and the magnificent bracts have faded – this means it is time for the amateur gardener to get out the shears and cut the bougainvillea. Pruning exotic flowers is often necessary to maintain the willingness to bloom. Therefore, we explain below how the correct pruning works.

Pruning bougainvillea with garden hedge shears
Skilful pruning at the right time stimulates flowering [Photo: Robie Online/]

Pruning bougainvillea: when is the best time?

The first pruning of the year should always be done immediately after overwintering, when the bougainvillea has not yet sprouted. Further light pruning can be done during the year to increase flowering. A final pruning before overwintering in the autumn is also common to prepare the plant for the cold season.

Cutting bougainvillea: step-by-step instructions

Proceed as follows when pruning bougainvillea throughout the year:

  1. Cut down last year’s leaves and shoots in early spring so the bougainvillea can continue to branch. Make sure not to cut away the entire branches, but always leave a third of the length. The colourful flowers of the exotic always grow on the new shoots of the plant, so the first pruning is especially important.
  2. During the summer, shoots with withered and dried bracts should be cut back sporadically so that new branches can grow again. With this method, the flowering can be prolonged in summer and you can sometimes enjoy the splendour of the flowers until autumn.
  3. In autumn, a final pruning should be made on the plant, so it can be overwintered without problems. Cut the bougainvillea a little more compactly, so that it does not take up too much space in its winter location.

This article will show you how to successfully overwinter bougainvillea.

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