Bougainvillea, Deck It.

Bougainvillea is a stunning plant that can add a splash of color to your deck with its vibrant pink, purple, yellow, or orange bracts. These are not actually flowers, but modified leaves that surround the tiny white or yellow true flowers. Bougainvillea is native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, and it loves heat, sun, and drought. Here are some tips on how to grow and care for bougainvillea on your deck.

  • Choose a large clay, terracotta, or ceramic pot that has good drainage holes. Bougainvillea does not like to be waterlogged and prefers a well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. You can use a potting mix that is 80% compost and 20% grit or sand.
  • Place the pot in a sunny spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Bougainvillea needs plenty of light to produce its colorful bracts. Avoid shady or windy locations that can damage the plant.
  • Water the plant only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Bougainvillea is drought-tolerant and does not need frequent watering. Overwatering can cause root rot and reduce flowering. Water thoroughly until the excess water drains out of the pot, and then let the soil dry out before watering again.
  • Fertilize the plant once a month during the spring and summer with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer at half the recommended strength. Bougainvillea is a heavy feeder and needs nutrients to produce new growth and bracts. Do not fertilize in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant or semi-dormant.
  • Prune the plant lightly throughout the year to maintain its shape and size. You can also pinch off the tips of new stems to encourage bushier growth and more bracts. Do not prune too hard or too often, as this can reduce flowering. The best time to prune is after a flush of blooms.
  • Protect the plant from frost and cold temperatures. Bougainvillea is hardy in USDA zones 9B through 11, but it can be damaged by temperatures below 40°F (4°C). If you live in a colder climate, you can bring the pot indoors during the winter and keep it in a bright and warm room. Alternatively, you can cover the plant with a frost cloth or blanket at night when the temperature drops.

Bougainvillea is a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant that can brighten up your deck with its tropical flair. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy its colorful display for many years.