I live at Lake Tyler, and last spring I planted more flowers than I have planted in my entire life. I have a lakefront home on a hill, and I wanted something really showy. I had four pots, 18" across and 19" tall, so I went to the nursery looking for something really special. I saw some bougainvillea plants in pots and hanging baskets. They all looked really bad, with dry and yellow leaves, but they did have some pretty blooms. I chose four hanging baskets, the best of the worst. Each one had three or four stems, with none over 18" long.
I planted one in each of my pots, and they were not very noticeable. I began fertilizing them, and before I knew it, the plants were gushing with beautiful green limbs falling over the top of the pots and touching the ground. But there was only one problem-there were no blooms, and I had been using flowering fertilizer on them weekly.
A friend came over one day, and I was telling her about my bloom problem. She told me about her son in Austin who grows beautiful BLOOMING bougainvilleas. She said all he did was fertilize them twice a month with bougainvillea food that he buys from a nursery. I went to the nursery and bought the food, and within a month, they were blooming.
They continued to bloom until fall, and they were beautiful-really showy. They definitely made a statement. I cut them back in the fall when the blooms began to drop and put them in my greenhouse. When spring arrived this year, they began to leaf out, and I plan to enjoy them again this summer-using bougainvillea fertilizer every two weeks.
Linda Childress, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service