Bougainvillea Care – How To Grow A Bougainvillea In The Garden

Light Pink Bougainvillea Plant
(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

Bougainvillea in the garden offers green foliage year-round and brilliant “blooms” in summer. Growing bougainvillea in gardens requires some effort, but many think that these tropical and subtropical woody vines are worth it. Read on for information about how to grow a bougainvillea.

Growing Bougainvillea in Gardens

Bougainvillea are thorny, evergreen summer bloomers, but their orange, yellow, crimson or purple flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts. The bracts surround the actual flowers that are tiny and white. 

To start growing bougainvillea in gardens, you’ll need to live somewhere warm; otherwise, container growing of bougainvillea is recommended. The plants thrive in USDA hardiness zone 10-11, and will also grow in zone 9 with adequate protection. 

They are extremely drought-resistant and thrive in almost any well-draining soil. How to grow a bougainvillea vine is easy once you know the basics. When you plant bougainvillea in the garden, you need to learn the ins and outs of caring for bougainvillea vines. 

Bougainvillea care takes less effort if you select the optimal site. Place these woody vines in a site with full sun and well-draining soil. Although bougainvillea vines tolerate many types of soil, they prefer loamy soil that contains clay, sand, and silt in equal parts.

Amend it with organic matter to allow nutrients to easily reach the roots. For the best bougainvillea care, select a soil with a pH of just over 6.

Bougainvillea Care

Gardeners caring for bougainvillea in the garden don’t need to worry much about water once the plants mature. Irrigate only when the plants start to wilt and the soil is dry. The vines do need food. Fertilize your bougainvillea every month in spring and early summer. 

You’ll want to use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer at half the normal dosage. Pruning is part of the work if you are caring for bougainvillea in the garden. Keep your eye out for dead wood and remove it as it appears. Save severe cutbacks for a time after the bougainvillea has flowered. 

You can prune late in fall or very early in spring. Pinching is a gentler form of pruning that works well for bougainvillea. Pinch off the soft, growing tips of young plant stems to encourage thicker, fuller growth.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.