Bougainvillea (aka "boganvia") is a climbing plant that produces brightly colored tropical flowers that grow close together and create a wall of blossoms. Bougainvillea is an excellent plant to grow on a wall or trellis in a patio area. When caring for a bougainvillea, you must provide the correct amounts of light, water and fertilizer, as well as maintain its growth and display by pinching spent flowers.
A tropical plant, bougainvillea thrives in higher temperatures and direct sunlight. Grow the bougainvillea in a place that receives at least five hours of direct sun. The plant can withstand high temperatures but is susceptible to frost. If your climate zone experiences harsh frost, you can move a potted bougainvillea indoors for the winter.
Your bougainvillea should not be over-watered or placed in a pot with a saucer underneath. Bougainvillea’s root systems do not do well when exposed over long periods of time to water trapped in the saucer, as the roots tend to rot. For that same reason, avoid water-retaining soil and look for a soil mix that drains easily. The top layer of soil can be dry and the blooms can just begin to wilt before watering is needed.
Bougainvillea are heavy feeders. Bougainvillea require a water-soluble fertilizer with balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. A 20-20-20 fertilizer works well. Always introduce fertilizer into the system when watering. Fertilizing when the plant is dry can result in a chemical burns and discolored foliage.
Fertilize the plant when it is flowering to promote growth. During flowering, mix one tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water. In cooler weather, when the plant has ceased flowering but is still producing new foliage, reduce the feeding to once a month. You need not fertilizer when the plant is dormant and has stopped producing new growth.
The plant will continue to send out new vines and produce stronger blooms when old blooms are removed. To pinch off old growth, grasp between thumb and forefinger and pull the old bloom away from the vine. Pinch off old blooms just before a new growth appears on the vine, approximately one-half inch.
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