Cutting bougainvillea - instructions and right time


The bougainvillea is a flowering plant, but needs to be kept in check. Our guide explains which cutting measures are necessary and when.

© K.-U. Häßler - Fotolia.com

As a climbing plant, the bougainvillea is characterized by abundant growth. It is not uncommon for the flowering exotic to climb four to five meters in height. So that the triplet flower can develop optimally, it needs a climbing aid. While the bougainvillea takes over entire house walls in its native Brazil, this is only possible to a limited extent in our latitudes. Since the plants are not hardy, they have to move into the house in autumn. Cutting the bougainvillea regularly is not only useful for this reason. Cutting measures can also maintain the plant's health and vigor and promote flowering. Everything worth knowing about the cut of the climbing-friendly bougainvilleas can be found here.

Shortening the shoots ensures blooming

The hobby gardener will really enjoy the bougainvillea. With good care, it grows quite abundantly and quickly reaches a height of several meters. The shoots can literally shoot in the length, which gives the plant a somewhat sparse growth. Since flowers only form on the tips of the shoots, you should wait for the first flower and only then cut back the plant. The shoots can be shortened by about half. This cutting measure causes the shoots to branch and new flowers to form on the branches.

➔ Tip: The bougainvillea can be flowered several times in summer.

Pruning the shoots of free-standing plants should be carried out approximately monthly during the growth phase. After the cut, the plant should be supplied with fertilizer so that it can strengthen itself and better cope with the stress caused by pruning.

Cut back shoots - step by step

  1. Pruning after flowering
  2. Shorten the shoots to about half
  3. Use sharp tools
  4. Then fertilize the plant

This is how the bougainvillea is cut back

If you want to make a larger pruning on your bougainvillea, you should do this before the growing season begins. The right time for this is in early spring. The cut can also be combined with transplanting. Every three to two years, the triplet flowers should move to a larger planter and get fresh substrate, because the soil in the relatively small planter wears out very quickly. When cutting back, all the side shoots coming from the main shoot are removed, directly where they emerge.

The plant may seem a little sparse at first glance. However, it will sprout even more vigorously in the coming months and will also surprise with abundant flowering.

The cut back - step by step

  1. before starting the growth phase
  2. Remove side shoots
  3. Leave the main shoot
  4. can be done as part of transplanting

Cutting bougainvillea before hibernation - is that necessary?

It is not absolutely necessary, quite possible. Especially when there is little space in the winter quarters, it is a good idea to prune the triplet flower before winter. The cut can, as just described, turn out to be radical. An advantage of pruned plants that no longer have leaves is that they can hibernate well even in a darker room, since no photosynthesis takes place.

Cut back bougainvillea - advice at a glance

Type of pruningexplanation
Cut back shoots▶ The bougainvillea often forms long shoots.
▶ These can be shortened after flowering.
▶ You cut back by about half.
▶ The shoots then form new branches and flowers.
radically cut▶ If you want to cut back the plants radically, remove all side shoots from the main shoot.
▶ The plant then sprouts again, grows more bushy and flowers more intensely.
Cut before winter▶ A radical cut can also be made before winter.
▶ This is particularly recommended if there is not enough space in the winter quarters and other plants have to move there.

What should you watch out for when cutting the bougainvillea?

The plants are generally quite well tolerated by pruning. However, this does not mean that it is pleasant for the plant. Every pruning means stress. You should keep this as low as possible.

This includes choosing the right time. The plants are not cut back during flowering and a radical cut never occurs during the growth phase. Cutting measures are usually not carried out on sunny days. A dry, cloudy day is more appropriate. The cutting measures create wounds that could be damaged by the sun's rays. It is also important that the cutting edge is as straight as possible. A sharp knife should therefore be used. A quick and straight cut is the best option.

Tips for the right cut back in key words:

  • wait for the appropriate time
  • do not cut during flowering
  • wait for a dry cloudy day
  • use a sharp knife
  • ensure a smooth cutting edge

Overview of advantages and disadvantages of pruning

▶ The pruning makes the plant visually more attractive.
▶ Cutting measures promote growth and flowering.
▶ Cut plants fit better in the winter quarters.
▶ The pruning means stress for the plant.
▶ You have to wait for certain times.
▶ After pruning, the plants appear rather sparse.

SOS - when the pruning cannot be avoided

In certain situations, it is simply necessary to prune the plants. In the case of diseases or pest infestation, it is not possible to wait for the right time after the growing period, because the point is to save the plant. It is important to use scissors immediately if sick or dead parts of the plant are visible, or if pests have spread on the leaves. Especially in the case of fungal infestation, radical cutting is necessary. If aphids are bothering the bougainvillea, the hobby gardener can bypass the pruning if he reacts promptly and removes the pests by showering with a hard water jet or by applying or spraying soapy water.