Bougainvillea: expert tips on cultivation & more


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

Bougainvillea shines impressively when in full bloom. You can find important tips on growing bougainvillea here.

pink flower of the bougainvillea
Bougainvilleas shine impressively when they are in full bloom

Bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea) are known not only in warmer countries as a magnificent and decorative plant, but also enjoy growing popularity in this country. The exotic flower, which botanically belongs to the family of 4 of the clock flowers (Nyctaginaceae), is kept exclusively in tubs in this country, unlike in its place of origin. Nevertheless, to buy a bougainvillea is still worthwhile. We show how you can also grow the colourful flower in your garden and what points to consider.

Bougainvillea: origin and properties

Bougainvillea is a genus that includes a variety of species. Originally native to South America, it is prized as an ornamental plant in many areas of the world, but only thrives outdoors in tropical to subtropical areas. The characteristic feature of the plant are the always bright bracts, which are often mistaken for the flowers of the plant, similar to the poinsettia. In fact, the actual flowers above the bracts are rather inconspicuous with their white-yellowish colour and small size. The bougainvillea is typically characterised by three bracts per flower as well as three flowers on one flowerhead, which has also earned it the name of the “triplet flower.”

Purple flower and yellow bracts of the bougainvillea
The characteristic feature of the bougainvillea is the ever-glowing bracts [Photo: Iryna Loginova/]

Bougainvillea spectabilis

A particularly popular species of bougainvillea is Bougainvillea spectabilis, native to Brazil, with its bright bracts. Besides the classic variety with pink-purple flowers, you can also find those with white or yellow-orange bracts. While the exotic grows wild in the Amazon, the shrub form is perfect for cultivation in tubs in this country.

Pinks flowers of the bougainvillea spectabilis
The Bougainvillea spectabilis enchants us with its bright bracts [Photo: natthawut ngoensanthia/]

Buying bougainvillea: valuable tips

To give your garden a southern touch, buying a bougainvillea is certainly a good choice. When buying, be sure to pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Variety: As a rule, garden centres sell only bougainvilleas of the species Bougainvillea glabra. The species is also called bald triplet flower, and features impressive pink-purple bracts and a climbing habit.
  • Time: It is best to buy your bougainvillea in the spring or early summer to make the purchase worthwhile for the summer. In addition, during this period you basically have a wider choice of varieties, while buying during the winter months could be difficult.
  • Health: When buying, be sure to check the whole plant and also the soil for pests or diseases. Buying a diseased bougainvillea can also infect other plants at home, so always keep an eye on the quality of the plant material.
Bougainvillea as a bonsai
The bougainvillea also cuts an impressive figure as a bonsai [Photo: Evgeniya Uvarova/]

Planting bougainvillea

After you buy a bougainvillea, it should be repotted immediately. This is because the exotic plant is considered fast-growing and therefore requires a large pot as a planter. Below we show what else you need to pay attention to when planting bougainvillea.

What is the right location?

With its tropical background, it is no wonder that the triplet flower is decidedly heat-loving. Ideally, therefore, a very sunny and sheltered place in the garden is suitable for the exotic. Depending on the size, it may also make sense to provide a climbing support. As a rule, a location directly on the wall of the house is perfect, as it is both warm and protected.

What substrate for a bougainvillea?

Bougainvilleas are usually quite low-maintenance plants and do not have very many requirements for the soil. Make sure that the substrate is permeable and free of peat. Our Plantura Organic Flower Compost meets these requirements perfectly and also contains all the necessary nutrients for the bougainvillea.

When planting bougainvillea, you should pay attention to these points:

  • Large tub with sufficient volume
  • Warm, bright and sheltered place in the garden (e.g. on the wall of the house)
  • High quality and peat-free organic potting soil
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
Organic Flower Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all flowering plants in garden beds & pots
  • For beautiful blossoms & healthy plant growth
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Plant care

Caring for bougainvilleas is not rocket science, but even with this tropical plant, some aspects need to be taken into account, from watering, to fertilising, to pruning.

Watering bougainvillea

Regular watering of a bougainvillea is important so that the plant can grow properly, especially in the summer. Water is also a crucial factor for flower formation – so ideally keep the substrate moist throughout. Besides severe drought, overwatering should nevertheless be avoided as well to prevent root rot. Cut back on watering in the winter during overwintering so the soil does not get too wet.

Water droplets on a red bougainvillea flower
Watering a bougainvillea regularly is important for the plant to grow properly, especially in summer [Photo: Paul Cowan/]


Bougainvillea delight any garden owner with their lush flowers, which may well appear for several months. The basic prerequisite for the splendour of flowers from early summer is optimal care of the bougainvilllea throughout the summer. In addition, the strong growth of the plant can be supported. For fertilisation, compost should be added to the pot before planting and repeated each time the pot is repotted. In addition, the use of a liquid fertiliser is recommended. Our Plantura Liquid Flower Food is simply administered via the watering water and ensures particularly magnificent and beautiful flowers.

Liquid Flower Food, 800ml
Liquid Flower Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for all flowers & balcony plants
  • Liquid fertiliser for a lush blossom throughout the season
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly

Pruning bougainvillea

A bougainvillea can certainly become very rampant within one summer, so pruning is possible at several points during the year. The most important pruning of the year should always be done in the spring, before the leaves emerge. At this time, use the shears where branches have grown more expansive in the past year and bring the bougainvillea back into shape. Depending on the growth, a light pruning during the summer may also be useful to trim the plant a little. Lastly, pruning before moving to winter quarters is common to keep the plant compact. Pruning bougainvillea not only makes the growth more compact, but also stimulates the plant to form new shoots and, consequently, flowers.

Secateurs pruning bougainvillea
The most important pruning of the year should always be carried out in spring [Photo: Tama2u/]

When caring for bougainvillea, the following aspects should be considered:

  • Moderate fertilisation in summer
  • Regular watering, especially during the formation of flowers
  • Heavier pruning in spring; light pruning in summer and before overwintering

Bougainvillea: hardy or not?

Bougainvillea, due to their origin in the tropical areas of South America, do not have a high tolerance for cold temperatures and even less for frost. Overwintering outside a winter location is therefore not possible in this country and would lead to the death of the plant. Proper overwintering of the plant is therefore essential to enjoy the exotic for many years.

Brown petals of the bougainvillea
In autumn, the bougainvillea withers and loses its leaves [Photo: Nannie_iiuu/]

Successfully overwintering bougainvillea

The first consideration for proper overwintering of bougainvillea is the selection of a suitable location. This should meet the following criteria:

  • Temperature between 10 and 15 °C
  • Bright location
  • Not too cold ground

During the autumn, bougainvillea, like our native deciduous trees, loses its foliage. But do not worry: this is by no means a sign of improper care, but a completely natural process. Starting in March, you can slowly acclimate the plant to an outdoor location again, provided that frosts are no longer expected.

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