Bougainvillea is quite a popular topic on this blog. I’ve done multiple posts and videos on all aspects of growing it. Or so I thought! I know many of you are curious about bougainvilleas in containers and I’ve seen many of them growing this way over the years. This is all about planting bougainvillea in pots including the soil mix to use, steps to take and a key thing to know.
I was up in Phoenix a couple of months ago and had to stop at a few nurseries before heading home to Tucson. Not a necessity but highly desired! Berridge’s is always one I visit and there was the bougainvillea just calling my name. I wasn’t planning on doing this post and video right now but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Type of Bougainvillea
Monrovia grows lots of bougainvilleas. They now do online sales so be sure to check their website out.
“Blueberry Ice” is 1 of the compact varieties very well suited to growing in pots & as a ground cover. Not many bougainvilleas have variegated foliage so this, as well as the size, had me at hello. It grows to be 2-3′ tall by 5-6′ wide making it an excellent container plant.
It was full & lush all the way around but the pack rats chewed off half the branches. It’ll grow back by next spring & I’ll do a pruning & shaping post & video for you then.
Before you even think about growing this floriferous plant, make sure the spot it’s going in gets at least 5 to 6 hours of sun a day. Anything less & the bloom will be mediocre or non-existent. Bougainvilleas also love heat.
Just know that the taller & bigger your bougie gets, the larger pot size you’ll need.
Type of Pot
The pot measures 16″ wide by 22″ tall so my beautiful bougie has plenty of room to grow. I bought the pot at Lowe’s but couldn’t find it for sale online. You might be able to find it in 1 of your local stores. I love plastic & resin pots because they’re much lighter & easier to move around.
My spray paint of choice is Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover. It covers so well & can be used on many materials. I used a base of Gloss Deep Blue (2 coats) & did accents of Grape Gloss & Gloss Purple. I let each coat dry & at the end, sprayed on 2 coats of the Semi-Gloss Clear to seal & protect.
This pot was basic brown (like many other plastic pots) when I bought it. Not my favorite color so a round of spray painting was in order. And of course, Riley Cat has to check it out!
After the spraying. I must say, I like it so much better & it fits in so well with my blue vintage patio set on the patio off my kitchen.
The Soil Mix I Use when Planting Bougainvillea in Pots
It needs to be rich yet have excellent drainage. You want your bougainvillea to take the moisture it needs & then have all the excess drain out.
The blend is basically 3/4 potting soil with 1/4 compost & succulent & cactus mix. I also added in a few handfuls of chunky pumice in the top 1/3 of the planter.
Ocean Forest potting soil. I’m partial to Ocean Forest because of its high-quality ingredients. It’s a soilless mix & is enriched with lots of good stuff but also drains well.
Tank’s (a local company) compost.
Pumice. Again, optional. My pot is so deep this also adds to the drainage & aeration.
A close look at the mix.
How to Plant Bougainvillea in Pots
It’s best to watch the video down below for this. I’ll give you a shortened pictorial step by step here.
The bougainvillea & its pot on my potting table all set to go. I watered the bougie thoroughly the morning of the planting. You never want to plant a stressed plant, ie 1 which is bone dry.
The grow pot cut down – see “the key thing to know” in the point below regarding this. I made 5 slits on the sides & slits coming out of each drain hole on the bottom so the roots can grow out.
The plant in its decorative pot. Because the pot is so deep & this bougainvillea doesn’t have an extensive root system, I put a layer of plastic bottles in the bottom as fill. The top of the grow pot is about 1/2″ below the top of the decorative pot so I have room to top it with soil & worm compost.
All topped off with potting soil. I used the blend in the bottom 2/3 of the pot & mainly potting soil & pumice in the top 1/3. I thoroughly watered the plant after the planting was done. The following morning I applied a 1/2″ layer of worm compost after the soil had settled in a bit. It’s mid-October when I’m doing this so I’ll wait until spring to apply a good layer of compost on the top.
The Key Thing to Know when Planting Bougainvillea in Pots
Plant your bougainvillea in its grow pot.
Bougainvillea can take full sun & heat without skipping a beat. However, it’s a big baby when it comes to the roots & doesn’t like to have them messed with.
For best results, be sure to leave your bougainvillea in the grow pot when planting it. Put a few slits in the side & bottom of the pot, being careful not to slash too deeply into the rootball. You’ll see this in the photo & also video.
This method allows the roots to grow out of the pot but also protects the rootball. You want the level of the soil of the rootball to be even with the level of the soil you’re planting it into. This means you might have to cut the rim & some of the top of the pot off as I did.
I always cut the rim off as needed because I think it looks much better with it gone. Whether you cut that off or not is up to you. It won’t hurt the plant at all but I never want to see a rim of plastic sticking up out of a decorative pot.
Maybe you’ve taken it out of the pot & planted it & it’s done just fine. It’s a crapshoot as to whether a bougie will survive & 1 I’m not willing to take. I just wanted to share with you this 1 important thing to know when planting bougainvillea. After all, I want your bougainvillea to thrive & give you a big show of color for many months!
My Blueberry Ice in its spot on the kitchen patio. Once it grows, I’ll be able to see it from the dining room too. It’s a paler lavender/blue now but once the temps cool, the color will deepen.
Answering Questions About Planting Bougainvillea in Pots
When is the best time to plant bougainvillea in pots?
Bougainvillea grows outdoors in temperate climates with warmer winters. Late winter, spring, summer & early fall are best times.
Here in Tucson the temps can dip below 32F every now & then in the winter. I got my bougainvillea planted 2 months before that happens so my plant has plenty of time to settle in. I avoid planting in the hot summer months (105F) because neither the plant nor I wanted any part of that!
Will bougainvillea grow in pots?
Of course! To have bougainvillea in a pot grow successfully, it’s important to have to make sure it’ll be growing in a sunny, warm spot. Be sure to follow the steps & points given here.
What is the best bougainvillea to plant in pots?
Any of the compact, lower growing varieties are best. There are quite a few of them to choose from now. For me, these are much easier to plant & maintain in pots.
Many of the bougainvilleas get 20’+ & although they will grow in pots, the container needs to be large. Plus, bougies prefer not to have their roots disturbed so having 1 survive a transplanting isn’t a done deal.
How do you transplant a bougainvillea in a pot?
With care. If you planted your bougainvillea in the grow pot, then having a successful transplant will be more of a given. Bougies are tough when it comes to the sun & heat but are big babies when it comes to having their roots disturbed.
I’ve never transplanted 1 growing in the ground or in a pot so I can’t say firsthand. I can tell you that when I lived in Santa Barbara (bougainvilleas thrive on the coast of Southern California) a neighbor transplanted his & it died a couple of months later.
As I said, transplanting 1 is a crapshoot!
What is the best soil for bougainvillea in pots?
A soil that is rich yet drains very well. Bougainvilleas actually have a fine root system so a heavy mix will do them in.
How do I care for bougainvillea in a pot immediately after planting?
Here’s what I did: I watered the mix thoroughly before moving my bougainvillea to its sunny corner. Because the soil was dry when I planted it & the temps are still warm, I’ll water it weekly.
After it’s established, I won’t need to water as often. If you live in a hot, sunny climate as I do, then your bougainvillea will do best with regular water.
My bougainvillea in a pot here in Tucson will get watered more often the 1 that grew in a pot in my back yard in Santa Barbara. My 2 bougainvilleas growing in the ground in SB rarely got any supplemental water but they were very well established. You can see 1 of them in this post here.
Just for the wow factor! This is the Bougainvillea glabra which I trained to grow up & across my garage in Santa Barbara.
This Bougainvillea Blueberry Ice in its blue pot will bring more color to my kitchen patio. Bougainvilleas are 1 plant that can take reflected sun and heat (with regular watering) here in the Tucson desert.
It grows next to and will grow into a colorful Lantana Dallas Red which the hummingbirds and butterflies love. A wonderful addition to my outdoor space!
Coming for you in the spring: how to care for bougainvilleas in pots & pruning bougainvillea in pots.
Don’t forget I have an Amazon page with all my favorite finds that I use and love!
Want to learn more about growing bougainvillea? Here are our go-to guides!
- Bougainvillea: Care and Growing Tips
- How To Plant Bougainvillea To Grow Successfully
- What Is Eating My Bougainvillea Leaves?
- Pruning Bougainvillea in Summer to Encourage More Bloom
- Answering Your Questions About Bougainvillea
You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive
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