How to Grow and Care For Bougainvillea in Pots

Bougainvillea thrive in pots because of their drainage characteristics and, with proper care, will flower and grow for a long time.

Plant bougainvillea in clay ceramic or terracotta pots that have at minimum 12 inches in diameter and make use of a potting mix that contains 80% compost and 20% grit, to ensure adequate drainage. Plant the bougainvillea in full sunlight and fill your pot by giving it a thorough soak every week throughout the summer and spring and every 2 to 3 weeks during winter.

Continue reading to find out how to successfully grow bougainvillea both in Winter and Summer in various climates, and how to encourage more blooms all through the entire year…

Best Pots and Containers for Bougainvillea

The ideal container or pot for bougainvillea is a ceramic or terracotta, or an unglazed ceramic pot that is 12 inches in diameter with similar depth. It is crucial that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, allowing the excess water to drain away.

The reason why clay ceramic pots, terracotta and ceramic are the best choice for bougainvillea is that they are cooler than metal and plastic pots in full sun . They also are porous, which aids in drying the soil equally after rain or watering.

Bougainvillea requires that the soil dry between periods of irrigation as it is adapted to the drought.

Plastic pots may hinder that the soil is dried evenly because they are impermeable , and emit more heat, which could result in the roots suffering from unnecessary heat stress when bougainvillea grow in full sunlight.

Select a pot that measures 12 inches in diameter and has the same depth the pot size is sufficient soil capacity that contains nutrients and gives the roots enough space to grow and absorb the water that they need.

Bougainvilleas bloom better when they are in pots that are proportional to the size of the plant , which may restrict the roots because this creates stress that encourages blooming (bougainvillea needs some kind of adversity in order to encourage flowering).

When the container is too big the bougainvillea will redirect its energy to growing roots, and the bougainvillea will display fewer flowers.

Select a pot with drainage holes built into the base to let the excess water to drain. If you live in a region that is humid or heavy rainfall it is recommended to put your bougainvillea planter on a foot to raise the pot, and then inch away from the ground.

This stops water from accumulating under the pot, and also allows more airflow to dry the soil in near the base of the container, thereby reducing the chance of developing root decay.


Planting Bougainvilleas in Pots

Pots for growing bougainvillea should have one inch of gravel on the bottom of the pot in order to encourage good drainage. Bougainvillea thrives best in the potting mix which is approximately 80percent multipurpose compost and 20 percent the horticultural gritty. This mix will provide best drainage conditions for bougainvillea in order to keep the proper level of water.

Bougainvillea is a plant that grows in its home region of South America, in soil that drains well and the bougainvilleas are not tolerant of constantly damp soil, as it creates conditions for fungal and root rot.

A soil mix that is grittier gives the aerated, porous soil structure that lets excess water drain out of the root system, which creates soil that is similar to the conditions of bougainvillea’s soil in its native.

If you plant them directly into compost or potting soil without perlite, gravel, or sand the potting medium could hold too much water for the bougainvillea.

When you plant your bougainvillea, don’t compress the soil too much because this can push air out and makes the soil less porous, which could result in it retaining excessive water for a plant that likes soil that is dyed.

Make sure to water your bougainvillea well by giving it a good soak following the planting or repotting, as this will help reduce the shock of transplantation.

In areas with greater humidity or rainfall, the significance of a draining, grippy soil mix is increased because bougainvillea likes that the soil dry out slightly between watering sessions.

The ideal soil mix for bougainvillea , along with the correct timing for watering is essential for achieving the ideal amount of moisture needed to allow bougainvilleas to flourish and show flowers.

Watering Bougainvillea in Pots

Then, water the bougainvillea thoroughly to ensure that the excess water drips off the bottom of the pot, ensuring water gets to the roots. Let the soil dry before watering it once more. Typically, you should water bougainvillea pots every week during summer and spring and then every two or three weeks during Winter and Fall to ensure the proper level of water.

Bougainvillea thrives in dry and sandier soils in their natural habitat. They thrive in a climate that usually is characterized by a torrent of rain that is followed by dry and hot conditions.

To ensure that your bougainvillea is healthy and free of fungal diseases, it is essential to repeat this watering cycle by giving your bougainvillea a excellent drink and let the soil in the pot dry before watering it again.

One of the main causes of dying bougainvillea is that they have been overwatered to ensure that the soil remains always damp.

When the soil becomes wet and doesn’t dry properly it can create conditions for fungal diseases and root decay.

How Often to Watering in Spring and Summer:

If your bougainvillea is placed in the correct pot (clay or ceramic, terracotta or clay) and is of a suitable size, the typical bougainvillea requires an occasional soak every seven days during the spring and summer months.

If there’s been significant rainfall, you should delay watering until the soil becomes dry.

If you’re not sure if you should water your bougainvillea, check the soil in the pot up to the depth of a finger to determine the amount of soil water. It is also helpful to touch the soil in the base of the pot by using the drainage holes in the bottom to determine if it is moist or dry.

If the soil is feeling damp you can put off the watering for a couple of days until it feels like it’s drying out . This is the ideal time to start watering.

It is important to note that excessive watering can cause a reduction in flowering since bougainvillea usually requires some stress in drought to encourage the growth of flowers (more on this later).

How Often to Water Bougainvillea in Fall and Winter:

Bougainvillea requires less water during Fall and Winter, as it enters into a dormancy state with less hours of light and as a result of lower temperatures. In general, water-potted bougainvillea is used once every two or three weeks during Winter, with an adequate soak.

If the soil in your potting area is damp from rain, then it is not necessary for watering your plantainvilleas since it prefers soil that is dry.

Be aware that bougainvillea isn’t cold-hardy and must be moved indoors prior to when temperatures drop below 50 degrees (10degC) however, it is still recommended to water every two or three weeks, with an adequate soak.

(Read my article on the best way to water your bougainvillea using pots to know more about watering and avoid common errors).

How to Fertilize Bougainvillea

The most significant characteristic of soil for growing bougainvillea is the soil drains well instead of being overly fertile. When there’s too high levels of nitrogen in the soil, the bougainvillea will grow larger leaves and less flowers. Fertilizers can be used to help revive the bougainvilleas in pots that have used up all the nutrients available.

According to my experience, bougainvillea flowers well in the first season of potting because they can get every nutrient they need from their new soil for potting or compost.

After a couple of years in the same pot, the number in flowers as well as the quality of leaves will decrease as the bougainvillea’s roots have used up all the nutrients available within the container. At this point, that fertilizing your bougainvillea in pots will stimulate and encourage the development of the flowers as well as vines, foliage and flowers.

I have experienced the best results using a half strength liquid all-purpose fertilizer in the spring (after the danger of frost and cold weather is gone) applying once a week up to the middle of July.

It is crucial to stop feeding during the summer as fertilizers can encourage the growth of softer, lush plants that are especially vulnerable to damage caused by cold snaps.

A lot of fertilizer can cause soft growth, which is more prone to damage caused by Aphids.

The bougainvillea pot in the photo was fed every week with Miracle-gro fertilizer, however just at half strength (as it was in the pot for a few weeks) to ensure that it gets every nutrient it needs to grow and bloom.

It is important to note that the bougainvillea bloomed well during the first two years, without fertilizer, as it was growing in good compost, in a pot which slightly limits the roots (which encourages flowering) and was in full sun.

Place Potted Bougainvillea in Full Sun

Bougainvilleas are flowersing vines that thrive in full sunlight, which encourages the growth of the plant and encourages blooming. Plant your bougainvillea pot in at least six hours of direct sunlight , so that it will display the best flowers it can.

Bougainvillea is able to grow in less hours of sunlight, but this can result in plenty of foliage and fewer flowers.

Bougainvillea has been adapted to thrive in full sunshine within its natural South American environment which also aids in boosting evaporation following rain and allows that the soil dry out effectively, which is a factor in the dry soil conditions in which the plants thrive.

How to Increase Bougainvillea Blooms

The most effective way to increase blooming is to plant the bougainvillea in a container which restricts the roots, and in full sun and to avoid overwatering. Bougainvillea blooms best when its roots are somewhat dependent on the pot and are it is watered only occasionally. The slight stress that you put on the bougainvillea encourages blooming.

The reason stressing the bougainvillea encourages flowering is that when the plant is in a stressful situation, it will be motivated to focus on reproduction, which happens by displaying flowers to attract pollinators.

When the shrub is surrounded by water, a large container for roots to develop and plenty of fertilisers, then the bougainvillea is likely to channel its energy towards the development of its roots system, vines and leaves, rather than focusing on the development of its bracts and blooms.

(Bracts are special leaves that can appear to resemble flowers).

Bougainvillea is also is a short-day plant meaning that it blooms best when the lengths of the day are shorter than the night lengths (so less than 12 hours of daylight).

If the darkness is interrupted at night (think about switching on outdoor street lights or lights) the majority of species of bougainvillea do not bloom in the same way.

The best solution is to locate a spot with no artificial light source which could light up your bougainvillea in the 12 hours of darkness, or to find ways to shade it during the night to encourage flowering.

It is important to note that bougainvillea blooms on the new growth, so it is a good candidate for pruning in the spring, that stimulates new growth, which displays bracts and flowers.

(Read my article on what is the reason my bougainvillea flowering but not blooming? to find out the reason why your bougainvillea does not flowering and how to fix the issue).

How to Care for Bougainvillea in Winter

Bougainvillea are not tolerant of the cold, and must be kept indoors in Winter when you has temperatures that are lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10degC) in the evening. Bougainvillea are watered less frequently, around once every two or three weeks, but make sure to water it with an adequate soak.

Bougainvillea can bloom all year long if temperatures are hot enough, but they usually only bloom and bloom during the spring and summer months in colder climates.

In Winter the bougainvillea is often unable to retain its leaves due to the cold or shock of the changing conditions after being brought inside for Winter.

While this may be worrying, the leaves usually return when they have had time to adjusted to the new environment and also when temperatures start to rise again in the Spring.

(Read my article on what is the reason my bougainvillea shedding the leaflets? to learn how I can help it to recover).

Place your bougainvillea in full sunlight, even in winter, since it can cause the plant to stop falling leaves. Also, make sure that it is placed in a space free of drafts from air conditioning or air currents that are heat sources. A more steady temperature, the more beneficial the plant will do.

Do not feed the bougainvillea plant in the winter months as it is prone to being damaged by cold. Bougainvillea goes into dormancy in Winter, particularly in colder climates that have lower levels of light and fewer hours of sunlight.

This drastically reduces the need for water, therefore you should only water your plant once every 2 or 3 weeks in winter.

If you live in a region that has mild winters and can put your bougainvillea pots outside, then your bougainvillea will not require much watering in the winter months, as it will usually get enough water from rain.

(Read my article on what is the reason my bougainvillea dying? If you’re having issues).

Pruning and Training Potted Bougainvillea

Since bougainvillea is a flowering vine, it requires support and training using a stake once it has reached a certain size to make sure it grows taller in the sun and to stop it from falling.

The process of training bougainvillea can be easy like using bamboo cane plant the roots and then securing the plant in the right place using strings or cable ties.

It is possible to connect bougainvilleas to fences or trellis based on your situation, but with the bamboo cane, your bougainvillea plant can be mobile in order to move it inside in winter.

There are many varieties of bougainvillea capable of self-sufficiency without trellis or canes that are great for pots so long as they are cut back to a smaller size.

Prune the growth back using a sharp pair pruners in the early spring months to ensure that your bougainvillea is small and encourage new blooms to form.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows the steps to trim your bougainvillea pot:

Key Takeaways

  • Bougainvillea thrives best when it is grown in clay and terracotta pots measuring 12 inches in diameter, and have a the potting mix that is gritty, comprising 20% compost and 80 percent gritty. It is recommended to water once a week during the spring and summer months, and every two or three weeks during Winter and Fall. Bring the bougainvillea pots inside in the winter months when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10degC).
  • Ceramic, clay and terracotta pots are the ideal choice to grow bougainvillea. Terracotta and clay pots are and let the soil be evenly dry after watering, and they do not get hot in the sun as fast as plastic or metal pots, which help to resist the heat stress that can occur in summer.
  • The bougainvillea in the pot should be watered thoroughly to ensure that water drips out from the bottom and sides of the plant. It is recommended to water once per week in the summer and spring months to encourage vigorous growth. Water every 2 or three weeks during Winter, when growth slows. Make sure to let the soil dry prior to watering again.
  • Plant bougainvilleas in the potting mix which is composed of 80% compost or potting soil , and 20% perlite or grit to provide the best drainage conditions and an aerated potting medium to allow bougainvilleas to develop well and bloom more often and also to prevent root rot.
  • Put your bougainvillea plant in a spot that is full sun to encourage flowering. If your bougainvillea is situated placed in a shade, it will produces lots of foliage, and less flowers. Plant the bougainvillea potted in a bright window in winter to stop it from losing the majority of its leaves, and also to shield it from freezing winter weather.
  • Make use of a liquid half strength fertilizer to feed bougainvillea pots from the beginning of spring until mid-July to help with growth and display of flowers.
  • Bougainvillea aren’t cold-hardy in winter and must be kept indoors when the temperatures at night are below 50degF (10degC). Plant the pots of bougainvillea in a bright window during winter to avoid it dropping leaves. Water once every 2 or 3 weeks , and don’t feed them until the next spring.
  • Give bougainvillea a hard cut at the beginning of Spring to encourage new growth , which encourages the growth of more bougainvillea and flowers. blooms on the new growth. Cut back flower that has faded throughout the season to encourage the growth of new flowers.
  • To encourage blooming, put bougainvillea in full sunlight, let the soil dry out after watering. Place bougainvillea in pots that restrict the roots, and protect bougainvillea from the light of night. Bougainvillea are plants that bloom in the daytime which require longer hours of darkness before they can flower at their most attractive.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)