If you are looking for a colourful flowering plant to grow in a pot then Bougainvillea could be the one
Not only are they wonderful climbing plants, if you select the right variety you can also grow them in pots.
These are a vigorous plant, so some varieties are more suited to growing in pots than other.
Growing Bougainvillea in containers is also a great way of controlling their growth. With a restricted root run, they tend not to be as rampant.
All have masses of flowers in colours from red and purple through to pink and yellow. Of seen as as a tropical to sub tropical plant, they do grow well in cooler climates, very few problems in Sydney and Perth, in Melbourne and other cool climates you might like to grow them in a pot in a sheltered position.
Best Varieties for Pots ?
We suggest that you try one of the smaller growing Bougainvillea varieties, many of these will naturally only grow from 1 metre to around 2 metres in height. If you choose a larger growing variety, you will need to provide good support for the plant.
The best known dwarf types are the Bambino varieties. They combine range of colours and reaching around 2 metres in height they are well suited to container growing. These are also the best types to train as bonsai specimens.
Make sure that you use a free draining potting mix as Bougainvillea do not like wet root systems.
Here are our top tips for growing Bougainvillea in containers.
- Choose a pot with good drainage holes ( more than one central hole) , lift the pot above pavers and the ground using pot feet or small blocks. This is a better method than using drainage material in the bottom of the pot.
- Use a good quality potting mix, well drained yet moisture retentive. Add some perlite to improve drainage.
- Choose a position where the plant will get plenty of sun. The pot can be in the shade, however the plant itself needs lots of sun to thrive.
- If you are planting a taller growing type, make sure you have something for the plant to climb on. Place the pot against a fence, or use a large pot and install a obelisk or other climbing frame.
- Make sure that when you are planting out, that you do not disturb the sensitive root system. Never lift the plant by the stem, or pull the stem to release it from the pot.
Decide how big you want the plant to grow and then ask your nurseryman for the best variety for your situation.
Care of Bougainvillea in pots.
- Water in spring as required and as soon as the weather warms up, hold back a little on the water. This will promote flowering.
Try not to water during winter as cold and wet root systems can be a problem with all Bougainvillea.
- Do not use high nitrogen fertilisers, these tend to promote foliage growth rather than flowers.
Only fertilise when the plant is in active growth, and never over fertilise.
In good soils simply water with a little a little sulphate of potash to help promote flowers.
- You will need to prune them regularly to maintain a compact and healthy plant.
Pruning Pot Grown Bougainvillea
After flowering, its time to prune back and generally this is in early winter. However different varieties will flower at different times in different climates, so pruning time may vary. Generally prune back by 35 – 50%.
You can also tip prune through the year.
The more you prune, the more flowering points will be created and this is what makes then great plants for growing in pots. They do flower on new growth, so regular pruning is essential, when in flower, tip prune every month. And yes, these colourful flowering plants are suited to bonsai.
Although these are an easy plant to grow from cuttings, you will get better results by taking them at the right time of the year.. This is during the warmer months in cooler climates, and in spring in warmer areas. If you can provide warmth and protection you can take cuttings almost year round.
- Take cuttings at around 25 cm (10 inches) long.
- Strip the foliage from the lower 2/3rds.
- Use a propagating sand for best results.
- Insert the cuttings 2/3rds deep.
- Keep them just moist and in a warm shaded position.
- Once you get good signs of new growth, you can pot them in normal potting mix.
- Slowly move them into the sun.
- Water lightly.