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  • In its native South America, bougainvillea is an evergreen, shrubby vine.
  • In Tucson, bougainvillea is subject to damage during our sub 32 degree nights.
  • Best planted against a warm south or west facing wall or in a container that can be moved for protection in the winter.
  • Bougainvillea may be used as an annual and planted each spring.
  • Bougainvillea’s vibrant color comes not from the small inconspicuous flowers, but from the large bracts that surround the flowers.
  • Vigor and growth habit vary by species and variety. ‘Barbara Karst’ is a vine, and ‘La Jolla’ is a bush; these are the most popular.
  • Plant in full sun or light shade in the hottest areas in early spring (after frosts) to give the longest possible establishment period before winter cold.

Blooming Periods

  • During warm winters, you will see color as early as February.
  • If freeze damaged during the winter, you can expect color by June.
  • Experts generally agree that a somewhat water-stressed bougainvillea blooms best.


CAUTION: Plant with care!

  • Bougainvillea roots are very fine and do not knit the soil together well.
  • Remove the plant from the container carefully (best done when the root ball is fairly dry).
  • After planting, keep root ball moist for first 2-4 weeks.
  • If on a drip system, place one emitter in the center of the root ball.
  • Be sure water is going into the root ball and not around the root ball.
  • Provide supports to the vine types.

Fertilizing and Pruning

  • Fertilize with Osmocote Bedding & Vegetable or El Toro Flower & Vegetable in spring and summer.
  • Do not be afraid to prune to renew the plant, to shape it, or to direct its growth.
  • Prune heavily in the spring after frost to remove dead wood and to shape.
  • On wall-grown plants, nip back long stems continuously during the growing season to produce more flowering wood.

For more information about bougainvilleas, refer to the Sunset Western Garden Book.
Harlow Gardens
5620 E. Pima St., Tucson, AZ 85712
(520) 298-3303

  • Kevin Pendergraft July 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I just planted 4 Bougainvillea’s on two privacy panels. I just noticed that something is eating the leaves. I did not see any insect on the leaves. Any idea on what might be eating the leaves and how to prevent it from continuing?

  • Barbara Haffner July 9, 2014 at 9:45 am

    thank you for this.
    my Bougainvilleas were heavy with blooms as they were everywhere in Tucson.
    However, for the past two months or so all those blooms are gone and we are left with dead ends on all the branches.
    I hope I did the right thing by cutting all branches back and reshaping the plants. They always seem like such hearty plants.
    Maybe they will come back. ?

  • Cutting back and reshaping your bougainvillea is fine this time of year. We recommend not pruning when it’s cold, because it could damage the plant. Bougainvillea naturally bloom and then go out of bloom throughout the growing season.
    Thank you,
    Cara Bohardt
    Assistant Administrator

  • If the cuts are circular, then this is most likely the Cutter Bee. This bee does not ingest the leaves, but uses them to line her nest. Unfortunately, since they do not ingest the leaves insecticides do not work. There is really nothing to do to stop them. The good news is it lasts a limited amount of time and does not permanently damage the plant.
    Thank you,
    Cara Bohardt
    Assistant Administrator

  • Just moved to Tucson from the high mountain desert of New Mexico. Eager to get bougainvillea started all around my patio. First purchased is called “Temple Fire”. Is this a vining or bush type? Any vining types will be up against a wood fence. Do they need trellises?

  • Temple Fire is a wonderful bush type bougainvillea.
    Vine bougainvilleas do need some help and won’t self-adhere to surfaces. You may want a trellis.

    Thank you,

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