Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Can I Save My Bougainvillea?

I did a big Oops this past weekend. I brought my Bougainvillea into the house as part of the Great Fall Migration, and set it in a western-facing window. I was saving all the space in front of the south-facing window for my big Agaves and other succulents. We've been having a distinct lack of sun lately, so that spot where I put the Bougainvillea was not anywhere near bright enough.

It let me know immediately in no uncertain terms that it was not happy. By withering and dropping almost all its leaves!

Big drip tray full of Bougainvillea leaves and flowers

I didn't notice it till this morning, when I opened the blinds on that window, and took a good look at it. It was only there for about three days, and already it is remarkably denuded.

Minus all its top leaves, now in the prime real estate that is my only south-facing window

We're finally getting some sun this morning, but it might be too little, too late

The lower leaves are still green and hanging on, but how long will they last?

A couple are looking very chlorotic.

I'm a Bougainvillea newbie. I hope it lives. I've moved it into that south-facing window, but at this point I don't know what else to do. Should I cut it back? I think the top branches are still alive, but is it too stressed to try to support them? Would it be more merciful if I just took off those top branches? Keep your fingers crossed, and if you have any advice for me, give it!


  1. At this point you should allow it to go dormant which is how I winter mine. Cut it back to make it easier to manage and keep the roots moist but not wet. The roots need to stay viable and the leaves will grow back in spring. Low light is fine and do not let it dry out but don't try to rejuvenate it at this point. I keep mine in the garage, they can take a good bit of cold but not prolonged deep freezes.

    1. Here's a link which describes what I do pretty closely.

  2. I don't have any helpful advice, just a reminiscence that my Grandma used to grow hers years round in a small heated greenhouse...back when electricity was cheap!

  3. I don't have experience wintering Bougainvillea inside but I can tell you that, even in southern California, the plants tend to lose leaves and their colorful bracts during the fall/winter months when it's colder and there's less sun. They seem to be fairly resilient so I have my fingers crossed yours will come back.

  4. They seem to shed most of their leaves in the autumn. Shirley has pretty much summed up a way of overwintering it and reassurance too!

  5. My Mandevilla does the same thing when I bring it in , still flowering , I'll soon cut it back and hope for the best !

  6. Don't know but I bet Shirley is right, she usually is.

  7. I don't have any advice but it sounds like the others have covered it. I sounds like you have a nice spot for it now. Good luck. xo


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