Understanding bougainvillea pruning

Bougainvillea Santa Barbara

Bougainvillea Santa Barbara

Lush and colorful, bougainvillea is a must for every Southern California landscape.  The plant is as versatile as it is beautiful and knowing the best pruning and trimming methods can be helpful in ensuring its stunning presence in the landscape for years to come.

The plant holds its bold color on bracts, modified leaves surrounding its modest flower.  Proper pruning encourages vigorous growth which produces more of the colorful blooms.  While timing varies by region, Bougainvillea should be hard pruned between winter and early spring, after the last threat of frost, but before new buds form.  Though the plant can be trimmed throughout the year to maintain its shape, this is the time to really focus on strategic removal of branches without causing damage.  This work might be done to modify its overall shape, train its growth on a structure, or encourage fuller growth in thinning areas.

Concentrate first on dead branches and those underneath that look paltry due to shade by upper branches.  Thinning out the plant in this way prevents the spread of disease, channels energy to the healthier portions of the plant, and allows sunlight to penetrate through.

Similar to trimming, pinching back the blooms throughout the growing season will promote new growth.  Likewise, cutting back new growth, or tip pruning, partway through its cycle will help produce vibrant new blooms and branching.

The vigor and vibrancy of bougainvillea make it a rewarding plant for gardeners in the Santa Barbara region.  Even amateurs might try their hand at caring for and pruning the plant, but the surest bet is relying on the expertise and skill of a landscape maintenance specialist.

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