Here’s how I prune and trim my bougainvillea for maximum bloom.
My Bougainvillea glabra is a flowering machine. It puts out a big show of magenta/purplish color off and on for 9 or 10 months out of the year. This bougainvillea grows up and over my garage which sits at the end of a long, narrow driveway. It gets a major “WOW” from anyone who sees it.
The pruning that I do in January is the big one that sets the shape that my bougainvillea will be for the rest of the year. I usually prune it all in 1 fell swoop, which takes about 5 hours.
But this year I didn’t start the pruning until the end of February, and because I was doing it in dribbles, I just finished it up this past weekend. By the time I finished the pruning, it was already flowering away like crazy!
Here’s how I prune my bougainvillea for maximum bloom:
The video is full of info but here’s a break down of what I do:
How to Prune and Trim Bougainvillea
Thin out the plant by removing whole branches right back to the main trunk. When it’s semi-deciduous in January, it may seem like you’re removing a lot, but believe me, it grows back like crazy. I prune a lot away from the outside of the plant so I can get to the inside.
Remove half of the undergrowth which has gotten shaded & “wimpy”.
Remove the water shoots. These do nothing for the plant at all.
Shape it to how I want it to look. It goes up 1 side of the garage & then all the way across. I took an old metal trellis which was on the back of the house & had it attached to the middle of the garage just above the overhead door. Bougainvillea does not attach itself (unlike jasmine, trumpet vine, morning glory, etc) so I had to train & attach it.
Most of the branches that remain I take back by a half or tip prune, depending on their length. This is what brings the denseness of color to my bougie. You see, bougainvilleas bloom on new growth so the more you tip them, the more color you’ll get. Tip pruning, in case you don’t know, is the removal of the soft new growth by 1-6″. You can even do this with your fingernails if it’s easier.
I’ll do four additional lighter prunings throughout the warm season, ending in early December. My bougainvillea is a riot of color and yours can be too. Just remember, tip pruning (you’ll see the technique in the video) is one of the keys to this dense show of flowers. It’s my own floral fiesta!
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