Caring for Bougainvillea - How to water, fertilize and multiply the plant properly


There is no reason not to bring exotic charm to your balcony or terrace with the Bougainvillea. However, it depends on the right care.

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The small shrubs are not only zealous climbers, they also fascinate with their seemingly lush, colorful flowers. The fact that these are only colorful bracts, which enclose the rather inconspicuous flowers, is forgiven the plant, because the viewer quickly dreams of a vacation in the south when they are seen. So that the triplet flower will soon be admired in your garden, we provide all the necessary care instructions. But first of all, we present the most beautiful bougainvillea species.

The most beautiful bougainvillea species

The plant genus Bougainvillea was first described by Philibert Commerson in the late 18th century. The name came from Louis Antoine de Bougainville. The French seafarer had discovered a first specimen during a circumnavigation in South America. The gardener Karl Ruser made a name for the spread of the exotic species in Europe. Today almost 20 species are known. Some particularly attractive varieties are described below.

❍ Bougainvillea spectabilis "Jamaica White":

With its white bracts, this variety offers a great contrast to the leaf green. The plant is quite easy to cultivate as a climbing plant or as a shrub.

❍ Bougainvillea x buttiana "Barbara Karst":

If you are looking for a particularly vigorous plant, this is the place for you. Growth heights of up to five meters can be achieved. This variety enchants with its red sparkling flowers between May and September.

❍ Bougainvillea glabra "Variegata":

This strain is particularly pretty to look at. In addition to the reddish-purple bracts, the yellow-green foliage also ensures this.

Pour bougainvillea properly

The water requirements of the plants can be assessed as moderate. Since waterlogging is not tolerated under any circumstances, a little sensitivity is required when watering. Waterlogging in bougainvillea leads to root rot particularly quickly. The plants can then no longer be saved.

The triplet flower also resists water shortages, but recovers if watered sufficiently. If too little water is poured, the miracle flowers throw off their leaves. This is unsightly, but no need to worry, if the hobby gardener changes his watering behavior, new shoots will soon appear.

In order for the plants to develop well and bloom profusely, an even supply of water is important. The earth should always feel slightly damp, but never wet.

Leaves also fall in the cool winter quarters. The pouring has to be restricted here. Monthly watering is usually sufficient. The plant will sprout reliably in spring.

Fertilize bougainvillea properly

The triplet flowers should be fertilized regularly during the growing season. This ensures healthy growth and abundant flowering. Commercial flowering plant fertilizer can be used weekly. If you add compost to the potting soil, you ensure a natural fertilizer that provides sufficient nutrients in the first year of standing. The plants also get very well if they are watered with nettle soy from time to time. The plants are not fertilized in the winter months.

This is how you promote the flowers

The right care naturally aims to experience the triplet flower in full bloom. The hobby gardener must know that the bougainvillea only produces small, inconspicuous white flowers. What catches our eye and what makes the plant so popular are the strikingly colorful bracts that enclose the small flowers. The actual flowers only last for a few days, but the play of colors of the bracts can last all summer if properly cared for.

⇒ These measures promote the blooming:

  • protected location
  • a lot of warmth
  • a lot of sun
  • sufficient watering
  • regular fertilization

⇒ These measures damage the bloom:

  • dark stand
  • downpours
  • shadow
  • waterlogging
  • not enough water

Properly multiply bougainvillea

If you already own a plant and take good care of it, you will soon be able to multiply it. In the case of bougainvillea, this is usually done using head cuttings. Proceed as follows:

Head cuttings are obtained in early spring. You can combine this with transplanting the triplet flower. The cuttings should be 15 to 20 centimeters long. To accelerate rooting, you can treat the cut area with a growth hormone. Then the cuttings are placed in a container filled with growing soil and placed in a bright and warm location.

If you do not have a mini greenhouse for growing, you can create a similar climate by covering the planter with a plastic hood. There should be a constant temperature of around 24 degrees. The cuttings should have roots in about eight weeks. After another four to six weeks, you can move the plantlets into larger planters. Recommended reading: Planting bougainvillea - important information about location, soil and tips for transplanting.

Detect diseases and pests on the bougainvillea

Those who follow the care instructions mentioned will be able to enjoy healthy and vigorous plants and will rarely be confronted with diseases or pests. However, if the plant has problems, it does not keep it behind the mountain for a long time, but indicates via its leaves that there is a maintenance error:

Leaf fall:

If there is a radical fall of leaves, the plant has either been watered too little or is too wet. This can be easily checked by examining the substrate.

If there was a watering fault, the triplet flower will usually regenerate itself very quickly. If there was waterlogging, the roots have usually already started to rot and there is usually no rescue for the bougainvillea.

Leaf discoloration:

If the lush green leaves change color, there is usually a lack of nutrients, which can be compensated for by appropriate fertilizer application. If the leaf is yellowed, there is usually a lack of nitrogen. If the leaf veins continue to appear green, but the rest of the leaf turns yellow, this indicates an iron deficiency.


A wrong location selection can lead to aphids. Especially in winter quarters it happens that the pests spread on the plant if the position is too dark. Regular inspection of the plants is essential in order to recognize the pest infestation in good time and to be able to react accordingly. Aphids can usually be removed completely without chemicals. It is often sufficient to shower the plant with a hard water jet. Injecting nettle slurry (instructions for making nettle slurry yourself) is also quite effective.

Flowering rotten plants:

If the hoped-for flowers do not show on the plant, it is not necessarily affected by a disease, but it does show signs of deficiency. The most important components should be checked: location, hydration and nutritional requirements. If the plant is bright and warm, watered sufficiently and fertilized regularly, the flower should not be long in coming.