Bougainvillea winter care: how hardy is this vibrant plant?


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

In summer, the bougainvillea blooms profusely – but what about in winter? Is the bougainvillea hardy or can it at least be successfully overwintered?

Pink bougainvillea in a pot
For overwintering, the pot should also be placed indoors in a bright place [Photo: singkam/]

The exotic-looking bougainvillea is not only appreciated in southern countries for its vibrant colour, but can also be found in many gardens in this country. The plant, which belongs to the family of 4 of the clock flowers (Nyctaginaceae), during the summer can form an impressive amount of the beautiful bracts, which depending on the variety can be almost any colour. But is the bougainvillea actually hardy? And if not, how do you properly overwinter them in this country? We answer your questions about bougainvillea winter care below.

Bougainvillea: hardy or not?

The bougainvillea plant genus is originally native to the tropical areas of South America and over time has established itself as an ornamental plant in many parts of the world. However, due to its origin, a bougainvillea can therefore be cultivated only in areas where winters are reasonably mild. For this reason, the exotics can grow freely in Europe only in the Mediterranean region and are suitable in this country only for keeping in tubs. A bougainvillea is sensitive to temperatures below 5°C and can quickly die in frost.

Fallen brown petals of the bougainvillea
In frosty weather, the dream of blossoms quickly turns into a nightmare [Photo: Ole_CNX/]

Bougainvillea: successful overwintering

Proper overwintering of your bougainvillea is crucial to whether you can enjoy the tropical plant again next year. To overwinter, proceed as follows:

  1. In the autumn, cut back your bougainvillea in time for it to become a little more compact. If the leaves have not yet fallen off on their own, they can be cut off directly.
  2. For overwintering, choose a bright and cool place. This should ideally have a temperature between 10 and 15°C, but in any case not below 5°C. In addition, make sure that the soil is not too cold.
  3. In the spring, you can slowly acclimatise the bougainvillea to a location in the garden again and move it completely outdoors as soon as late frosts are no longer expected.
Bougainvillea in front of a window
The bougainvillea should be overwintered in a bright but cool place [Photo: Wirestock Creators/]

Bougainvillea winter care

Even while dormant in the winter, check on your bougainvillea from time to time to keep it healthy through the cold months. Although watering should be drastically reduced during overwintering, the plant is happy to receive a watering every four weeks. The soil should always be slightly moistened to the maximum. Additionally, check the bougainvillea from time to time for pests such as spider mites, which prefer to thrive in dry air. If you take into account all these tips for overwintering bougainvillea, you can enjoy the exotic plant for years.

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