Bougainvillea care in the Gulf

Is there a better way to start your day in the desert, than opening your window to a bougainvillea?

Photo credit: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/close-up-beautiful-red-bougainvillea-flowers_3919040.htm

When someone lives in a hot and dry climate, the options for easygoing plants with beautiful flowers are not many. Thank God there is Bougainvillea, a plant that the less care it receives, the more it thrives!

Bougainvillea is native to Easter South America, it is very drought tolerant, salt tolerant and loves heat and sun, and all of that make it suitable for the desert climate.

If you just bought a pretty bougainvillea, full of flowers and when you brought it home it lost all of its flowers, don’t get disappointed. Bougainvilleas (like all plants) bloom in cycles and once they settle, they will give you new flowers.

Some basic tips on how to care for your Bougainvillea in a pot:

  • Sun: Winter or summer, place it under full sun
  • Soil: When repotting, use a light potting mix (add more perlite than what you add for other plants). If you plant in the soil, you can use more sand than usual.
  • Water: Bougainvilleas don’t like a lot of water, so you should let the soil completely dry before you water again (in the winter it can take up to even a week, depending on the pot size and the soil used). You will notice that as the weather gets more hot, the soil will be drying out faster, until around the 15-30 of May, when you will have to be watering daily, until end of September.
  • Fertilizer: you can add your regular compost at the end of the summer (first half of October) and then you can keep adding compost every 3-4 weeks, until mid May. If you don’t mind using chemical fertilizers, you can replace compost with a fertilizer high in P (like 15-30-15) 3 times a year.
  • Pruning: Bougainvilleas flower from new growth, so when you prune you will get new growth and more flowers! You can prune as hard as you like (up to 2/3 of its stems) anytime during winter, at the end of a flowering cycle. Hard pruning during summer is not recommended, but you can keep removing dead and dry branches from end of May until mid September, when you can prune again more strictly.
  • Flowering: if your Bougainvillea doesn’t give enough flowers, try offering more sun, cut down on watering, prune it, and if all else fails, occasionally add a P high fertilizer, like 15-30-15.

An one last tip: Bougainvillea can be propagated by cuttings.

Check out this video on Instagram, for a step by step guide on propagation by cuttings.

And for the real bougainvillea lovers, I definitely recommend joining this community on Facebook.

Happy gardening!

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