How to care for & feed bougainvillea

Updated February 21, 2017

Bougainvilleas are colourful tropical plants that thrive outdoors in hot climates with little rainfall. The bougainvillea's spiny, cascading flowering vines produce papery bracts of red, orange, purple and other vibrant shades that surround small white flowers. Bougainvilleas will make an attractive addition to your garden, deck or backyard, but it's vital to learn how to feed and care for them to ensure the healthiest growth.

Plant your bougainvillea on the highest ground possible, which will help the water drain away from the roots. Select a spot that will receive at least five full hours of sunlight each day. Use a shovel to dig a hole three times bigger than the plant's pot. Add fertiliser to the hole. Remove the bougainvillea from its container, place it in the hole and pack soil around it until the roots and base of the plant are completely covered.

Only water the bougainvillea when the soil appears dry and looks close to wilting. Water the plant thoroughly, making sure that all the roots receive water.

Feed the bougainvillea fertiliser often during its flowering season. Use a fertiliser with a high content of iron and other micronutrients that promote blooming and a strong root system. Only add fertiliser to wet or damp soil, never when the soil is dry. Reduce the amount of fertilisation during cooler weather when the bougainvillea is dormant.

Prune your bougainvillea regularly to maintain its shape and to encourage it to create new branches. Use your fingers to pinch off 1/2 inch from the tip of new soft growth. The bougainvillea will produce stems with healthy, full blooms just below where you pinched.


If you are growing your bougainvillea in a pot, make sure the bottom has drainage holes. Do not allow the bougainvillea to sit in standing water, so never use a saucer or water dish under the pot.


Bougainvillea will rarely flower if kept indoors.

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