What Soil Does Bougainvillea Need?

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What Soil Does Bougainvillea Need?
Creating a suitable soil for growing bougainvilleas requires patience. (bougainvillea image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

The bougainvillea is a tropical vine that features small white flowers and colourful modified leaves called bracts. Although these hardy and show plants naturally are climbers, they also can be trained as pot plants or do well in hanging baskets, reports Texas A&M University. This type of plant requires a large amount of light, according to Louisiana State University, so you should give them direct sunshine for most of the day. In addition, you must choose the right type of planting soil for your bougainvillea to flourish.

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The ideal pH, or level of acidity and basicity, for a bougainvillea is between 5.5 and 6.5. This means bougainvilleas need acidic soil. A pH level of 7.0 is neutral, while a level below 7.0 is acidic and a level of 7.1 to 14 is alkaline. Collect a sample of your bougainvillea growing soil and take it to your local extension office for testing. The test will indicate what your soil's current pH level is and ways to amend it, if necessary, to get it to the ideal range.

Soil Mixture

The best medium for growing bougainvilleas is a soilless mix. This is because soilless mixes do not have any weed seeds, insect pests and disease pathogens. In addition, soilless mixes are well-drained but also retain moisture. These types of mixes are available at your local gardening centre. Stay away from soilless mixes that have a high content of peat, as peat retains too much moisture for these plants. Any potting soil actually is fine to use as long as it drains well, according to Louisiana State University.


Bougainvilleas must be planted in well-drained soils. Soils that retain water will keep the area around your bougainvilleas too wet, which could lead to root rot. When deciding when to water the bougainvillea plants, keep the plants slightly on the dry side because these plants produce flowers most effectively when they experience stress. Simply allow the plants to wilt slightly between waterings. However, do not let the plant dry out too long between waterings because this can be damaging. When you do water the plants, keep them evenly moist.


The soil you use for growing bougainvilleas must be fertilised. You should give your soil an application of a fertiliser that contains nitrogen and phosphate each month, following the manufacturer's instructions. A half-strength fertiliser that is water soluble is effective, according to Texas A&M University. You additionally should give your bougainvilleas' soil a slow-release fertiliser in March and August.

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