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June 2, 2018


I am looking for recommendations for a hanging potted plant to place on our front porch eve.  We have had ferns, succulents and flowering arrangements, but they do not last the summer. They face the west as the sun rises at high noon and later descending to the extreme west.



I am not surprised by your lack of success with ferns or succulents, as ferns prefer shade, and succulents actually like morning sun and afternoon shade.  I would consider using a tropical—a nice one for a hanging basket would be either mandevilla or bougainvillea.  They will thrive in hot, humid weather and love full sun.  Another option would be lantana or portulaca.  I assume you water, and as long as they don’t totally dry out and you fertilize periodically, any of these should give you great color all summer.


November 19, 2016

QuestionI was reading in your book In the Garden that plants can be stored in crawl spaces during the winter to protect them from cold temperatures.  I have a really pretty bougainvillea in a hanging pot in my backyard but am not sure how to preserve it through the winter.  I do not have a garage and really do not have a good place indoors for it.  Is this a plant that could survive in a crawl space during the winter?


 AnswerYes, your bougainvillea should survive in the crawl space. It will not be a gorgeous plant when you bring it back out next spring, but it should be alive.  For now, monitor the weather.  Make sure the plant is moved before a frost.  You want the soil to be moist, but not water-logged.  Don’t cut it back, as it will die back in storage.  Next spring, bring it back out, repot it and cut it back hard, then start watering.  The plant should begin to regrow and with added fertilizer, bloom.  Tropical plants bloom on new growth, so the key to good blooming is good new growth.


June 25, 2016


I got a beautiful bougainvillea for my birthday in April, and I think I have been steadily killing it.  It was in a small pot and we hung it in the sun on a planter rod.  It stayed that way until I moved it closer where it does get some shade, then I fertilized it about two weeks later with MiracleGro like I do with my other flowers. It then lost all its flowers. I looked up on line and it recommended lime be used but did not say how much.  Also, we have had so much rain and it also said it did not like "wet feet."  I have repotted it into a larger pot, and now looks like it might begin to produce a few flowers.  If it needs lime, where do I get it?  How much? It is my favorite flower.


Bougainvillea like to be slightly pot-bound to bloom best, but they also like it hot and dry.  We had a fairly cool April and May, and with all that rainfall I am not surprised they lost flowers.  Just water when dry and fertilize every week or two and it should be bouncing back in no time with the current heat we are having. 


May 28, 2016

QuestionI purchased a bougainvillea about one month ago.  It was beautiful.  However, all of the "bracts" have fallen off.  I attempted to research info about this flowering plant on line but wasn't very successful.  Several videos on you tube but all show the plants really big and fully grown taking over trees. There is some new growth on my plant.  It may be in a pot that's a little too small for it to grow out and up.  What do I do?  Just let it grow and wrap the stems around the trellis in the pot?  Do I "cut back" the stems?   Will it flower again this summer or just remain green? 


AnswerBougainvillea plants tend to bloom best if they are slightly pot-bound and in full sun.  If you have them planted in a large container, they often put on a lot of rampant new growth and are slow to start flowering.  I would fertilize every two weeks, put it in the sun and wait for more flowers.  I would not cut it back now when it is in its flowering season.   If you are wrapping the stems around the trellis, beware of the thorns. 


November 2006

QuestionI have a bougainvillea that is about 4 years old planted in a pot. Prior to this year it did nothing. This year we moved and it just flourished with blooms almost all summer and grew to about 5' tall and is still blooming. We are leaving town for 3 weeks and I want to know if we should cut it back before storing it under the house. We live in Hot Springs Village.


AnswerOnly cut back as much as needed to get it into the storage area. While it is in storage, it is going to die back. Prune it hard as you bring it out of storage next spring. If you prune too much now, there may not be enough left to prune by next spring. No water or fertilizer is needed while it is stored. Again, it won't look perky in the spring, but it should be alive. With water and fertilize in the spring, it should bounce back and recover.

June 2005

QuestionI bought a Bougainvillea a couple of years ago. The first year it did great. Bloomed all summer. Last year it never bloomed all summer then in fall it bloomed just a few blooms. I put miracle grow fertilizer on it several times last summer, but still no blooms. This year now it is all bushed out but still does not look like it is going to bloom. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong? It is still in the same pot that I bought it in. I read in one of your articles that it helps if they are some what root bound. So I don't think that is my problem. Does it need full sun or just partial sun?


AnswerFull sun is best for blooms. One thing you need to keep in mind is they do need new growth to bloom. If they are simply staying the same size, leafing out and green but not expanding much, they won't bloom very well. Root bound conditions help in a limited way; if a bougainvillea is given free reign of growth with no root limits, they often put on too much top growth to the exclusion if
flowering. In tropical climates that isn't a problem because their growing season is year-round. You need to reach a happy medium. Take it out of the container it is in, cut off some roots and put it back in the same container. You might even lightly shear the top to encourage more growth now. Fertilize with a slow release fertilizer and then every two weeks with a water soluble one. Give them full sun. Next year try pruning it back hard before moving it outside--again to get new growth.

QuestionCan you tell me what is wrong with my Bougainvillea. It has beautiful foliage but has never bloomed. What should I do? It has about 60% full sun.


AnswerSunlight sounds ok--they do need a minimum of 6-8 hours. They also do best if they are root-constricted. If you put it in a large pot or planted it in the ground, they may spend the season growing and establishing roots, and not blooming. If it is in a small enough container, try stressing it by allowing it to get a bit on the dry side and not overdoing it with fertilizer. You still have time to get blooms this year. Mine had stopped for a few weeks but is beginning to rebloom again now.

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