A Chick Does Tropical Garden

Friday, October 29, 2010

Beautiful Bougainvillea

I have ALWAYS loved Bougainvillea, and assumed that once I moved to Houston I would be able to grow it easily.  WRONG!  Not wrong because it's not possible, but wrong because I just didn't know how to do it.

I've discovered that Bougainvillea, at least under my watch is very picky.  I would buy some, only to be disappointed when it wouldn't bloom and only put out green leaves.  I would try to fertilize, water, etc., but still -- no flowers.  I even asked a nursery guy how to get my bougainvillea to bloom and he said he heard that you take off all of the leaves.

Huh????  Now THAT would be pretty.

After the absolutely irresistible "have-to-buy-it"  bougainvillea that I bought at the nursery with my friend Rebecca stopped blooming, I wondered if I had made a major gardening error.  [It is good that Becca was with me though -- if I had gone plant shopping without her and she found out about it, she would have said I was cheating on her.]  But, I was bound and determine to get this thing blooming again.

Well, after quite a bit of research, I read that bougainvillea need to be pruned, pinched, and not overwatered.  I got a lot of my information from BGI (Bougainvillea Growers International). In fact, they like to almost "wilt" a bit. When I got this through my head and started following the instructions, my bougainvillea started to bloom:  

After the "have-to-have-it" had finished blooming (when I bought it was gorgeous), and refused to do so again, I trimmed the branches back to about half.  Then, once it started putting on new growth, I started "pinching" the middle leaves off that came out of the end of each new growth.  Hard to explain, but here are some photos of me "pinching".   

New growth that needs to be 'pinched off"

Me pinching it off
Then, after THAT, I fertilized with a specially made bougainvillea fertilizer that I bought at Home Depot.  ALL of these things have created amazing results!  However, I think that the pruning and pinching is really what helped.  Now, I have so many blooms coming out of the areas where I pinched off the middle leaves. Here are some photos:

I'm so excited!  I did it!  I did it!  You can, too!


T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun


WG said...

This is great advice! I've always had trouble getting bougainvillea to grow.
wonderful pics!

Rebecca said...

I might even have to try it over here at my place. Great pictures! Oh and thanks for the shout out, you better not go off and cheat on me...buying plants behind my back, particularly such beautiful ones. Great Blog!


Coach Sheryl said...

Okay, we planted a bouganvilla a couple months ago. It looked pretty raggy for awhile but now has greened up and is looking healthy although it hasn't really changed in size. However, its in an area where the soil stays rather moist in the winter due to the rain. We had our first rain last night. We really don't have a place to move it. Any suggestions on how we can keep the soil dryer? I have a feeling its going to have wet roots for months.

T-Go said...

Hey, Sheryl, since "bougies" don't like wet feet, I would suggest raising the bed higher than the rest of the other ground so that it can drain thoroughly throughout the rains. The plant will go dormant in the winter, but I'm sure it won't do well sitting in water during that time. So, I would just pull it up, create a mound with a well-draining soil and replant it into the mound.

Coach Sheryl said...

What would you think of a large pot for the bouganvilla to avoid the wet soil?

T-Go said...

Yes, that would be great! Keep it under the eaves so that it doesn't get too wet, and then water it occasionally -- every couple of days if it is hot, or every several days if not. That's what I do with mine. I always wait until it's a bit "wilty" before I re-water, but then water really good.

T-Go said...

And, actually, Sheryl, they like to be crowded, so I wouldn't put it in a huge pot. Most tropicals like to be crowded -- they bloom better that way.

T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun