Why Won’t My Bougainvillea Bloom?

Hot Pink - zoomed mlm c@

Most bougainvillea are in full bloom right now.  Unfortunately, some are not. I received another bougainvillea question this week. Pilar writes that her bougainvillea is “…full of green leaves, but does not bloom, we miracle grow every two weeks, and water everyday”.

My advice is to back off on both the water and the frequent fertilizing!! Bougainvillea prefer to dry out between waterings.

About the Water:

Yellow - mlm cBougainvillea require good drainage; and they prefer to dry out in between waterings. In fact, the method nurseries use to force blooms is to withhold water. Because of their need for good drainage, be sure not to plant them too deeply.

The withholding of water forces the production of colorful bracts which surround the white flowers, as seen in the top photo. Each bract has three tiny white flowers as shown in both photos above.

Regarding the Fertilizer:

IMG_5162You’ve seen the 3 numbers on fertilizers? For lots of flowers and/or fruit, you need a fertilizer with a higher middle number. Those numbers, in order, are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The website for Miracle Grow that Pilar was using, shows that its chemical analysis is 28-8-16. The huge amount of nitrogen (28%) being applied to her plant is the reason she has such lovely leaves at the expense of flowers. The makers of Miracle Grow do produce a variety of types of fertilizer targeting the needs of different plants. Be sure to read the labels of whatever fertilizer you choose.

I promised Pilar I would write a blog post on this topic with greater detail. Watch for it to come out very soon.

10 responses to “Why Won’t My Bougainvillea Bloom?

  1. Thanks for the info
    This is my favorite flower, I wrote a poem about it posted in my blog , my first ever poem.


  2. That insghit’s just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks!


  3. Hello! Could you please tell me, how often is recommend for adding coffe grounds to the soil of my bougainvillea?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Wendy,
      Thanks for your question. Be careful of adding to many coffee grounds to your bougainvillea, unless, of course, your soil is alkaline (sweet). Bougainvillea prefer a soil that is only slightly acidic; that is, a pH of 5.5 – 6.0. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. Below 7 is acidic; above 7 is alkaline. The best way to know for sure is to test the pH of the soil on a fairly regular basis.


  4. Good day Maria,
    From your instructive article on ‘How to care for your Bougainvillea’ amended my soil with copious quantities of acid compost combined with ordinary compost and a dusting of 3.1.5
    Without specific identification of my Bougainvillea and nothing other than that, which I planted almost a year ago I am not able to fully determine what colour /species I am growing. From the tell-tale signs and with technicality on the Web it does point to Spectrabilis with tiny hairs on the stem and underside of the leaves which have a material feeling to the touch. I am seeing the pink ruby plethora of her leaves sans bracts.
    From my location here in sunny South Africa where Bougainvilleas grow prolifically due to our mild climate am yet to see the colourful bracts in their profusion.
    She has gained height +- 2m and spread yet the leaves on the upper branches of the stem are spaced quite far apart.
    I may be looking at a slow performance starter orand ultimately a gentle giant.
    Thanks for your informative and valuable input.
    Margaret Joy Gordon.


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