Bougainvillea Is A Different Color: Why Did My Bougainvillea Turn Colors

Bright Pink Bougainvillea Flowers
bougainvillea color
(Image credit: wachira aekwiraphong)

A color-changing bougainvillea in your garden may be a neat trick. In some cases, though, the original color is what you were after and may even transition into something you don’t like as much. For instance, some people report their pretty, bright pink bougainvillea transitioning to a dirty, rust red. What does this mean, and can you do anything about it?

About Bougainvillea Colors

First, note that the flowers you describe on bougainvillea are actually bracts, not petals. The true flowers are tucked inside these leaf-like structures that come in bright colors. The bract color for bougainvillea may come in various shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, and white. Yes, they can also change color without warning.

Why Did My Bougainvillea Turn Colors?

There are a number of reasons that could explain why your bougainvillea changed color. Unfortunately, you may not be able to pinpoint the exact one or make any adjustments to get the color you prefer.

If your bougainvillea is a different color from when you bought it at a nursery, it may be a result of cross-breeding. The cultivars on sale in most nurseries and garden centers can change color because of complex and variable genetics. They may develop spots, new colors on one or a few branches, or on the entire plant.

Other reasons for color changes are simply different environmental conditions. The conditions for a potted plant in the nursery are regulated and tightly controlled. In your yard, differences in temperature, soil type and alkalinity, light exposure, and water can alter the colors.

It’s most often not possible to change a bougainvillea back to the original color. However, you can try changing conditions to see if it triggers a shift in color. The healthiest conditions for bougainvillea are slightly acidic soil that is moist but drains well, indirect light, and warm temperatures.

If you buy a potted bougainvillea, the best way to preserve the color is to maintain the same conditions. Keep it in the pot and water regularly. Provide indirect light and bring the plant inside when it is too cold. Ideally, the conditions and environment should remain stable for a happy, thriving bougainvillea.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.