How to grow and care for Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) Indoors

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Bougainvillea Care, Bougainvillea glabra Care

Botanical name: Bougainvillea glabra
Family: Nyctaginaceae

Bougainvillea Description

Bougainvillea commonly called Paper Flower is a popular flowering houseplant which is grown for the showy blooms as a shrub or in a hanging basket.

There are hundreds of Bougainvillea plants grown for their showy blooms but Bougainvillea glabra is the one commonly grown as a houseplant.

Bougainvillea is an evergreen, climbing shrub with thorny stems which can be trained into a bonsai and can also be grown on a trellis.

Bougainvillea Flower

The blooms in Bougainvillea glabra are clusters of brightly colored papery bracts in pink, red, orange or purple surrounding small, creamy-white flowers.

Bougainvillea Origin

Bougainvillea glabra is native to Brazil and can grow to a height of 12 ft if not pruned.

Bougainvillea Varieties

There are many hybrids of Bougainvillea to choose from. Most popular are the large-leaved, large-flowered Mrs Butt whose flowers are rose-crimson.

Magnificawhich is purple. Raspberry Ice whose flowers are ravishing red. Alexendra which is pink and is a prolific bloomer.

Harissii whose variegated grey-green foliage is splashed with cream-white among many others.

Bougainvillea Care, Bougainvillea glabra Care

Photo Credit: Amazon

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) Care Indoors

Bougainvillea Light Requirements

The best light for growing your Bougainvillea indoors is very bright light conditions with some direct sunlight.

Your Bougainvillea will not bloom if it is not receiving enough light.

Regularly turn the pot to ensure your Bougainvillea receives light from all sides for an even growth. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Bougainvillea

Keep the soil moist at all times for your Bougainvillea and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Reduce watering for your Bougainvillea during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.

Avoid soggy soil for your Bougainvillea as it can lead to Root-rot Disease and eventual death of your plant.

Ensure that the pot for your Bougainvillea has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature for Bougainvillea

The best temperature for growing your Bougainvillea indoors is an average warmth to above average between 16-270C.

Protect your Bougainvillea plant from cold and hot draughts to prevent sudden changes in temperature. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Bougainvillea

Average room humidity is ideal for your Bougainvillea. To raise humidity for your Bougainvillea where the temperatures are very high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Bougainvillea Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Bougainvillea with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.

Withhold feeding for your Bougainvillea dusring the cold season as growth is minimal and it can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to Repot Bougainvillea

Repot your Bougainvillea during the growing season only when the plant is extremely pot-bound as it blooms more when it is pot-bound.

Do not repot a Bougainvillea that is in flower as the repotting shock may shorten the flowering period.

Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to Root-rot Disease.

The best soil for your Bougainvillea should be free-draining and rich in organic matter.

The large Bougainvillea plants can be top-dressed annually by replacing the top 3-4 in of soil with fresh soil.

Take care not to expose the roots to dry air while repotting your Bougainvillea.

Keep the roots moist by covering them with a wet towel or by ensuring there is a ball of soil around them.

How to Prune Bougainvillea

Pruning your Bougainvillea is easy. Remove dead flowers and leaves to maintain your plant neat and tidy.

Pinch off the growing tips of your Bougainvillea to encourage compact growth and prevent your plant from getting unruly.

After flowering, lightly cut back the Bougainvillea stems to rejuvenate growth and prevent your plant from becoming leggy.

Place the Bougainvillea plant in a cool place and reduce watering until new growth emerges. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) Propagation

Bougainvillea can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.

How to propagate Bougainvillea from stem-tip cuttings

Take a 4-6 stem-tip cuttings from a healthy Bougainvillea plant.

Strip off the lower leaves of the Bougainvillea cuttings and coat the lower part of the stem in a rooting powder.

Carefully insert the coated Bougainvillea cuttings in moist, free-draining soil and ensure the rooting container has adequate drainage holes to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until the new Bougainvillea plants are well established.

Allow the new Bougainvillea Plants to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.

Bougainvillea Care, Bougainvillea glabra Care

Photo Credit: Noah Garden Center

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) Problems Indoors

Bougainvillea yellowing leaves and leaf drop

Yellowing leaves and leaf drop in your Bougainvillea is due to overwatering.

Maintain the soil moist for your Bougainvillea but never allow the soil to become soggy. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.

Bougainvillea not blooming (flowering)

One reason why your Bougainvillea will not bloom is that it is not receiving adequate light.

Move your Bougainvillea to a brighter spot as it requires very bright light with some direct sunlight inorder to thrive and bloom.

The second reason why your Bougainvillea will not bloom is underfeeding.

Feed your Bougainvillea every 2-3 weeks with a balanced water soluble fertilizer during the growing season.

Bougainvillea yellow and wilted leaves

Yellow and wilting leaves in your Bougainvillea are due to underwatering.

Maintain the soil for your Bougainvillea moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Bougainvillea Pests

The common plant pests in Bougainvillea are Spider Mites and Aphids.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Bougainvillea Diseases

One common plant disease in Bougainvillea is Root-rot which is brought about by soggy soil.

Never allow your Bougainvillea to sit in soggy soil. Ensure that there is good drainage of both the pot and the soil.

Is Bougainvillea toxic?

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) plants are non-toxic to humans and pets.

However, the stems of Bougainvillea bear thorns which can cause injury. Always wear gloves when handling your Bougainvillea to protect yourself.

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