Bougainvillea plants are drought-resistant tropical vines that can do well in most types of soil.
These vines are well-known for their green foliage, vibrant and showy bracts in shades of white, pink, purple, and orange hues found on fresh new growth, and leaves on stems with thorns.
Bougainvillea is a native tropical vine to Central and South America and is commonly cultivated in Arizona, Southern California, South Florida, and South Texas.
Bougainvilleas grow well in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
Because of their woody habit and vigorous growth, these plants can be used in containers, trained on a fence, trellises, structure, or over an arbor, and used as sprawling groundcover or hanging basket plants.
The primary consideration when planting this plant is drainage. The soil for Bougainvillea should be well-draining.
How To Choose Or Prepare The Best Soil For Bougainvillea
When planting a Bougainvillea bush, it’s good to know these shrubs handle drought conditions well and thrive in almost any potting soil.
Bougainvilleas have thin roots, making well-draining soil essential. Regular potting soil works well. Equal parts of sand and loamy soil also work well.
Avoid using soil mixes that contain water-retaining components such as peat. A high level of peat in the soil mixture will promote root rot or fungal leaf spot.
Also, soil-free growing media is preferable. This type of media is light and porous and provides good air circulation to the roots.
Additionally, a soilless growing mixture will not contain weed seeds, disease pathogens, or insects.
The main thing is the soil should be sharply draining to prevent root rot. Don’t use lots of peat moss or a similar water-retaining substance. Instead, you can add perlite or vermiculite to the soil to drain well.
The best pH level is between 5.5 and 6.5.
When using a soilless mixture, include some components that provide a small measure of water retention.
If your blend is too light, airy, and water-shedding, it may dry out completely. This allows the root ball will shrink away from the sides of your container.
If this happens, you’ll have a hard time getting the substrate saturated again. No, allowing plants to sit in standing water or you are inviting root rot.
DO NOT USE SAUCERS under your potted Bougainvillea.
Water Regularly For Healthy Plants And Abundant Blooms
Always keep your plants’ substrate moist as it becomes established. Once established, allow this shrub to dry a bit to encourage blooming.
Use the soak-and-dry method of watering:
- Water thoroughly, allowing the water to run through the substrate
- Do not water again until the substrate begins to feel dry
- Don’t let the medium dry completely
- Water right away if wilting occurs
If your Bougainvillea substrate (soil) dries out completely, set the entire container into a bucket of water. Allow to completely saturate. Dry soil is damaging to the plants’ tender roots.
Whenever you set out to pot a Bougainvillea or any other plant, moisten your potting mix in advance. This will make the mixture easier for you and help prevent root damage.
Bougainvilleas In Containers: How To Repot A Bougainvillea
Choose a pot or container that restricts the plant’s roots and has at least one drainage hole. More is better.
Remember to add a trellis when you repot. If you attempt to add one later, you may damage the plant’s delicate roots.
After repotting, ensure your Bougainvilleas get full sunlight to ensure healthy growth.
Also, ensure your plant is free from any pest infestation of aphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, scales, slugs, snails, spider mites, and thrips.
Don’t forget that pruning your Bougainvilleas is important throughout the year.
Soilless Potting Soils Require Regular Fertilizing
Bougainvillea roots are happiest with a soilless mixture containing few nutrients, but the plant and blooms need food.
Fertilize with a water-soluble mixture containing phosphate and nitrogen throughout the blooming season.
If using a full-strength mixture, fertilize monthly throughout the growing season. Alternatively, you can feed twice a month during the growing season using a half-strength mix.
Another option is to apply slow-release fertilizer once early in the springtime and again in midsummer. Do not fertilize during the winter.
Use The Right Fertilizer
Avoid balanced fertilizers that provide the same amount of nutrients across the NPK rating. Excessive phosphate and nitrogen can inhibit growing and blooming in Bougainvillea.
Look for a fertilizer specific to Bougainvillea with an NPK rating of 6-8-10. This rating provides enough nitrogen to enhance blooming without encouraging excessive leaf growth.
Be sure any fertilizer you use contains about five percent iron for the best color development.
Popular Varieties of Bougainvillea Include:
Barbara Karst: Known for its stunning deep, vibrant red blooms. Barbara Karst’s ability to bloom almost continuously throughout the year makes it special.
California Gold: Prized for its unique bright golden yellow flowers, a rare color for bougainvillea. A vigorous growth habit makes it an excellent choice for covering walls or fences.
Sundown Orange: A stunning, eye-catching bougainvillea variety with deep orange flowers. The blooms transition to coral before finally maturing into a salmon-pink shade.
Purple Queen: A beautiful bougainvillea variety with cascading, deep purple flowers. Fast growing, highly versatile, can be trained to grow in various shapes and sizes. Tolerates drought conditions, hardy in climates up to USDA Zone 10.
Imperial Delight: Known for its vigorous growth habit and stunning visual impact. Eye-catching semi-dwarf Bougainvillea with elegant clusters of white papery bracts with a delicate pink hue. Bracts gradually transform into a beautiful translucent pink shade, creating an attractive bi-colored appearance.