Here are some of the more commonly asked questions about pruning bougainvillea plants, along with our advice and answers.

Here in the UK we mostly grow bougainvillea in pots indoors in greenhouses or conservatories, with a trellis or pillar for support. Pruning and training is therefore necessary to keep them in shape and restrict their size. Pruning need not be radical – remember bougainvillea flower on last season’s growth. Cut away dead or diseased branches back to a node or flush with the main stem. Prune to achieve the shape you desire, bearing in mind that each cut marks the way for new growth. Keep the plant trimmed by nipping off the tips of the branches just beyond the last node during the growing season. Keep dead-heading during blooming cycles – pinch off the flowers and bracts down to where they meet the stem.

Bougainvillea usually stop flowering in September, when you should reduce the frequency of watering. Keep them in a minimum night temperature of 10 degrees C through the winter, but don’t prune them until late winter or early spring, just before they begin the following season’s growth spurt. If the temperature falls lower they are likely to lose their leaves. Winter is the dormant season for bougainvillea so they shouldn’t be traumatised by pruning during this period.

Structural pruning of bougainvillea should take place at the end of winter or in early spring, just before the growth season starts but before the plants are actively blooming. During the growing season you can prune and trim as needed to encourage prolific blooming. Bougainvillea produce their flower bracts on new growth, so removing old growth encourages new shoots that will produce colourful bracts.

Bougainvillea blooms only on the tips of new growth. As branches age, little side shoots emerge and they bloom on the tips of these too. Pruning stimulates new growth, which in terms stimulates flowering. You need to be careful, though, not to prune too severely during the flowering season (summer) because you’ll cut off all the new growth. A good prune in early spring will ensure a splurge of new growth and consequent blooms.

Yes, particularly if it is growing in a container, because otherwise it will become overgrown and matted with dead flowers and dead wood. Pruning encourages new growth and new flowers, so without pruning a bougainvillea will produce few colourful bracts. Pruning in early spring is also necessary for good structure and shape.

If you’ve fallen in love with bougainvillea (and its inevitable you will!) you can shop online with Westdale Nurseries for more than 200 varieties of these gorgeous plants. If you have any questions about bougainvillea, about pruning or any other aspect of bougainvillea care, give us a call on 01225 863258 and we’ll be happy to help.