If it is planted in the right climate and spot, it is a tropical plant that bursts forth with colorful flowers for 11 months of the year. It’s a shrub-like vine that climbs up walls and trellises and returns each year if it is not exposed to the cold.
Decide whether to plant in the ground or in a pot.
It thrives in places that are hot and relatively dry. Find a sunny spot in your yard. This plant is a sun-lover and it will grow best in a full sun position, in the open, facing due North (in the southern hemisphere) and due South (in the northern hemisphere). It needs at least 5 hours of full sun every day to thrive.
Choose a place with rich, well-drained soil.
Bougainvillea won’t do well in soil that retains too much water, so make sure the soil drains quite well. They need rich soil that is slightly acidic, with pH between 5.5 and 6.0. Add limestone to the soil to increase the pH or sulphur to decrease the pH as necessary. If you are planting it in a pot, choose a soil mix with the appropriate pH level.
Dig a hole as deep as the bougainvillea plant’s root ball. Add a high-phosphate fertilizer to the hole to promote root growth and help the flowers bloom. Lift the plant from its container and wet the root ball into the hole. Lightly pat the soil around the base of the plant. If you want the bougainvillea to climb a trellis or wall, be sure to plant it near the structure. As it grows, you’ll need to train it to climb the structure by wrapping it gently around the base. If you’re planting the bougainvillea in a container, make sure to choose one with plenty of drainage holes, since bougainvillea hate to have wet soil.
These plants weaken with too much watering, ending up with all leaf growth in place of flowers. On the other hand, letting the soil dry out will cause the plant to get stressed out. Find a happy medium, water enough to keep the soil damp, but not so much that you leave the plant waterlogged.
Feed the plant a fertilizer every few months to keep the flowers blooming. Fertilizing too frequently can cause the plant to grow quite vigorously, so if you find that it’s getting too large, cut back on fertilizer.
Bougainvillea plants are prolific growers and need good pruning to force blooming and retain a pretty shape. After the bougainvillea has finished blooming for the season, cut it back by a few inches. This will promote healthy growth in the spring. Wear glove when pruning a bougainvillea. Some people can get a skin rash from pruning bougainvillea, similar to that from poison ivy.
Bougainvillea plants need support to cover a wall, fence, or other area. If you’d like the plant to grow in a certain vertical spot, you can hang rows of wire or string against the surface that you want covered. Tuck the plants branches behind these guidance supports at regular intervals. Keep a close eye on growth and adjust as necessary until the bougainvillea starts covering the wall or other surface.