Bonsai bougainvillea care is very basic. Lots of sun and not too much water. Between waterings, allow the top of the soil to become dry to the touch.
Especially during the first stages of bonsai training, if you water it as much as many other bonsai, you could have problems. Soil should be coarse and fast draining, but still contain some organic matter.
If the style deserves a shallow container, this is a plant that does well in modest amounts of soil.
Root pruning every two-three years should be sufficient. Trim roots during the summer. (In the tropics, you may prune roots any time of year.)
Full sun will keep the growth compact.
Instructions on fertilizing this plant vary greatly. Most growers agree to avoid high nitrogen content (first number in the list of three). Even numbers or a higher middle number are considered best. Learn more about
Bonsai Bougainvillea prefer 'tight feet', almost root bound.
After blooming is a good time to hard prune and/or restyle.
Defoliate the leaves at least once a year in the spring or summer to encourage smaller leaves and additional branching.
Indoors and out aphids on new growth may be a minor problem. When grown outdoors, bonsai bougainvillea care is almost pest free -- other than one caterpillar that can be annoying.
The "cabbage looper" is small, green, active at night and a voracious feeder.
It rolls itself in a leaf and/or chews them. To eliminate this critter use an insecticidal soap or a spray with pyrethrin.
Although not a plant pest, there is also a dangerous --to humans -- pathogen sometimes related to Bougainvillea.
Please read this important article about the Sporothrix schenckii fungus.
Bougainvillea grow from cuttings of any size! (At the right time of year - nights must be warm.)
One of the most beautiful bonsai Bougainvillea I ever saw was about ten inches at the base and only 12-14 inches tall. I was shocked to learn it was a sawed off cutting from an old plant being thrown out by a neighbor!
See severe, but not dangerous, styling example at bottom of this page.
Because this plant has alternate leaves, it is a good subject for directional pruning.
Bonsai bougainvillea care includes frequent trimming. You may trim foliage any time of year. Be cautious not to trim off bracts when foliage begins to turn color. (Watch for a rosy tinge to the leaves.)
When styling a bonsai Bougainvillea, keep in mind all the exciting color it will eventually provide. Form pads, canopies or long sweeping limbs to create special areas of fullness to allow this display.
Fast growing, abundant blooms, loves heat, tolerates cool, easy bonsai bougainvillea care, alternate leaves - what more could you ask for, for in a tropical bonsai?
This scraggly bougainvillea plant was found in a South Florida landscape nursery.
was used in a bonsai demonstration in Ft. Myers, Florida.
It is not unusual to remove many or all old branches in the beginning.
Don't be afraid to cut.
To a novice the initial results may seem a bit scary.
Flexible young branches will allow many new possibilities during the initial bonsai training process.
This is a "no fear" bonsai subject. Creating a good skeleton is what it's all about.
In the long term, this stump will be a magnificent bonsai tree.
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Know the basics? Ready for more?
Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos