Bougainvillea Growth & Care Guide

Bougainvillea is grand, versatile, and oh so beautiful. The dynamic range of these plants is unlike any other, given that they can grow as bushes, vines, trees, and even as indoor plants. The bright pink flowers accompanied by waxy green leaves make for thick foliage stretching over a beautiful expanse that is both hardy against infestations and easy to grow for anyone. Therefore, if you have wanted to include bougainvillea in your garden, now is the time.

All about Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is a gorgeously flowing flowering plant that is typically found to be thorny with waxy green leaves and textured, clustered pink flowers. However, many people don’t realize that the fuchsia bracts are also leaves that surround the actual flower, which is ivory in color. That is precisely what allows the bougainvillea to expand into the thick foliage. The plant is known for thriving in exotic and warm weather conditions.

Therefore, you will mostly find these plants in warmer parts of America, like the Southern regions of the states like Florida, California, and Texas. However, bougainvillea is native to warmer regions of the world – starting from the Middle East and spreading all across Europe. One of the best parts about bougainvillea that makes it such an easy plant to include in-home gardens is that it is an extremely hardy plant altogether.

Four Main Types of Bougainvillea

Can you believe that there are over 200 different types of bougainvillea plant types around the world? Yes, that’s true. However, while most of them are exotic and rare, here are the four main types of bougainvillea that are most commonly found around our region of the world:

Barbara Karst

They are one of the most common types of bougainvillea that are largely cultivated for commercial settings as they are climbers that can reach up to 40 feet. In addition, the plant showcases magenta bracts throughout summer and fall, making it a likely choice.  

California Gold

A unique hue for a bougainvillea, California Gold actually showcases yellowish-golden bracts making it an exotic choice for gardens. It is a hardy, all-year-round plant that can grow up to 30 feet, making it a great choice as a trellis plant.

Juanita Hatten

The smaller sister to California Gold, Juanita Hatten, has distinguishable pink bracts and leaves with golden dots and almost freckles. They can grow up to 20 feet and make for a beautiful homely climber when planted using a trellis.

Sundown Orange

Unlike all the other bougainvillea types, sundown orange does actually look like what its name suggests – Orange. However, as the plant matures, it changes color over time, much like a sunset going from orange to coral to pink, as it grows up to 20 feet tall.

How to Grow Bougainvillea

Considering their larger expanse and how much space they take, many people may think that bougainvillea takes their good time growing out. However, much to the contrary, bougainvillea vines are fast-growing plants. With the vine height reaching up to a good 40 feet, bougainvillea takes up structural support and grows out much quicker than you’d expect. Hence, people either go for planting outdoors or pots for indoor size types.

Therefore, there are some broader categories of bougainvillea, too, like thornless, large, extra-large, dwarf, and semi-dwarf. As you may have noticed, these categories refer to bougainvillea sizes as compared to the color of the bracts and flowers. However, this goes on to show that growing bougainvillea isn’t as challenging as it may seem. In fact, it can be pretty easy if you know what color variety and size category you are going for.

Planting Bougainvillea Outdoors

One of the most popular choices when it comes to rowing a plant-like bougainvillea is to plant it outdoors. After all, it is a gorgeous and expansive plant that would make a great flower showcase for your home. However, choosing a location with full sun is vital for the successful planting of bougainvillea. Hence, if you live anywhere or in zones nine to eleven, planting bougainvillea outdoors is for you.

Furthermore, the best part about planting bougainvillea outdoors is that it gives you plenty of space to play around and train your climber to take support of the structure it is growing on. For instance, if you are growing your bougainvillea to climb a trellis attached to an arch, wall, fence, or pergola, then you can easily twist around the growing vines to follow along and cover it all. In fact, you can even train it to grow as a bushy shrub and not climb around at all.

Using Pots for Growing Bougainvillea

To all those gardeners and plant enthusiasts who thought bougainvillea are outdoor climbers and have nothing to do with being a potted plant – this one will be a shocker for you because not only can bougainvillea be planted in a pot, but it can easily suffice colder climates indoors. The idea is to choose a container or pot that is wider in diameter than at the root, and you are in for a thriving and beautiful bougainvillea indoor plant.

However, it is important to note here that using pots and planters for growing bougainvillea has its perks and cons. For instance, it is certainly a bit more demanding for maintenance as compared to when you would plant it outdoors. Moreover, you would also have to ensure adequate drainage at the bottom of the pot and use the appropriate potting mix. In addition to all this, you can only re-pot once your bougainvillea is pot bound. Otherwise, it is a risk.

Care Tips for Looking After Your Bougainvillea

As you may have noticed, planting and growing bougainvillea aren’t that much of a challenge. However, despite how hardy these plants are, you have to ensure certain care aspects to enjoy a successful growth spurt and a healthy bougainvillea climber. Hence, to make things easier for you, we have listed down all the essential aspects of growing a bougainvillea. Follow these tips for your plant to perform optimally, resulting in beautiful, pink foliage for your garden.


Bougainvillea can grow in many different types of soil as long as you ensure that the soil is saturated with water but fast draining. Ideally, we recommend that you use mildly acidic soil that acts like an acidic fertilizer to boost the bougainvillea growth further. However, this is completely our recommendation and not a necessary requirement.

You can opt for rich organic soil that doesn’t adhere to fertilizer needs or even compost. In case you are using a pot, container, or planter, we suggest choosing something that doesn’t hold too much moisture and has adequate draining. Of course, you can always go for a perlite mix or a coarser sand option to keep things draining.


Bougainvillea care begins with proper watering because if you overwater the plant, it will lead to root rot and ultimately result in killing the plant. On the other hand, if you don’t water it adequately, bougainvillea is a hardy plant and extremely drought tolerant, but it doesn’t need its water intake, or it will simply dry out.

However, it is important to note here that the winter months can go well even with slowed watering, especially if you brought your potted bougainvillea indoors. But in warmer months, let the soil dry out in between your watering to make for a deeper drink. Also, don’t make the soil soggy, and get yourself a moisture measurement tool to stay on top.


Bougainvillea is a fast-growing plant, but here’s the catch – it only does so under adequate sunlight. This means that if your bougainvillea is in the shade, it will not grow as fast or may even not grow at all. Therefore, sunlight is definitely one of the top most important factors in bougainvillea growth. The plant loves at least six hours of sunlight on a daily basis.

Furthermore, if you have not planted your bougainvillea outdoors and instead kept it as a potted plant indoors, it is always best to find a sunny spot to place the planter. Probably a big enough window that exposes sunlight for six hours or a balcony should do. Because if you are noticing your bougainvillea hasn’t bloomed, it is because of lack of sunlight.

Fertilizing Needs

Bougainvillea is a weighty feeder that will perform best when given predictable manure. This is particularly significant for the ones you have in containers. Add slow-discharge granules to the opening at establishing time, then top-dress them month to month throughout the spring and summer.

Fluid composts are likewise perfect to utilize each time you water. Just add manure tea concentrate, fluid fish emulsion, or a water-solvent compost for sprouting plants to your watering can. If your dirt is soluble, utilize an acidic compost, all things being equal. Study treating blossoms here.

Care against Pests

A solid bougainvillea is somewhat liberated from harming irritations. There are not many that can go after your plant. However, they don’t, for the most part, represent a critical danger. On the off chance that you truly do track down a bug pervasion, just utilize natural strategies to treat them.

Wash the leaves with an insecticidal cleanser or utilize a blend of gentle fluid cleanser and water. Neem oil is likewise a characteristic method for controlling an episode. Treat the plant consistently until all indications of the pervasion are totally gone. Otherwise, it won’t do much except not allow you to enjoy physical contact with your plant as it slowly dies.

Flower Care

One of the most incredible highlights of this great example is the brilliant, lively blossoms. They will sprout all year in ice-free locations. But the bright, papery blooms are not really the blossom petals. All things being equal, their splendid tones come from the bracts that encompass the three subtle white flowers.

Depending on your assortment, the bracts’ shade could be anyplace from maroon, hot pink, red, orange, or purple. With the appropriate consideration, bougainvillea could, in fact, keep blossoming through the colder time of year inside. However, they don’t typically bloom as plentifully as they will outside.


Customary pruning will bring about a superior-looking plant. This is valid whether it is filled in a holder or established straightforwardly in the ground. Reliable managing additionally assists with dealing with the size and state of these quickly developing plants. Or, on the other hand, prepare them as more modest bushes or shrubs in your scene.

Pruning is crucial for containerized bougainvillea, particularly to overwinter them inside. This will make it considerably more sensible to move them all through entryways. The best opportunity to manage them is in the fall or the end of the developing season. This propensity will deliver a more alluring plant with a thicker base.


How Long Does It Take To Grow Bougainvillea

We might have answered this question earlier on, but it deserves its own separate section because not many people tend to believe it when we say that bougainvillea are actually very fast-growing plants. Given that all the care tips mentioned above are followed accordingly and receive plenty of sunlight, you can be sure that your bougainvillea will have a splendid growth spurt.

Therefore, if you are just about planting your bougainvillea and concerned about when you should be expecting any results, then be sure to see it within the first quarter of the year. In fact, bougainvillea grows 36 inches annually, given optimal weather conditions. So the vital part is to ensure that your plant is getting its rightful nutrients and it will not fail you to enjoy a beautiful, expansive plant in a few years’ time.

Wrap Up

Now that you know all about planting, growing, and taking care of bougainvillea, you can definitely go ahead and plant one in your home garden. Hopefully, our tips will help you ensure the right environment for your bougainvillea and allow you a successful growth spurt in a year or two. Moreover, we suggest that if you live on the warmer side of the state, go for outdoor planting and train the bougainvillea to climb an arched fence to enjoy a flower showcase. And if you are looking for more such guides to plant your own climbers, connect with us at Mo Plants – your one-stop gardening directory for more gardening know-how. Our comprehensive guides will be an excellent resource for reading more about other plants, vegetables, herbs, and fruits to take care of them for long-term results and expand your home garden into a colorful sanctuary of plants from all over the world. Cheers!