When to prune bougainvillea and how to do it

It is one of those plants that fall in love, and the reasons are obvious. Not only is it one of the most beautiful and least demanding climbers, but it is also perfect if we consider how to make a Mediterranean garden. But just as important as knowing how to grow it is knowing in detail when to prune bougainvillea. A task that will allow us to promote its flowering but also improve the general well-being of our plant.

Although pruning is not one of the bougainvillea cares that most concern us, we cannot leave it aside. With ideal conditions, this climber can have spectacular growth in the spring and summer months. Something that, in addition to being able to disfigure the general appearance of the plant, can cause us some other mishap. And it is that, as a good woody climber, a bougainvillea that grows out of control can even be dangerous for roofs, gutters and other surfaces on which it hooks. A compelling reason to keep her at bay.

Whether for the health of the plant or the maintenance of its environment, let’s find out when to prune bougainvillea and how to do it correctly. A real key to enjoying a plant that, with proper care, can accompany us for many years.


Before knowing when to prune bougainvillea, let’s start with how we should do it. Something as important as hitting the right moment.

Include this beautiful climber among your plants. Discover our selection of bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is a plant that admits severe pruning. What’s more: the bracts, those wonderful colored leaves that protect their flowering, are found on the new branches. For this reason, proper pruning will stimulate the flowering of an extremely generous plant that can be full of color from late spring to late autumn.

So let’s see what are the steps to prune bougainvillea. Some that we can apply whether we enjoy it directly planted in the ground or if we grow it in a pot.

1. Get equipped to prune bougainvillea correctly

It is essential not to get down to work without first preparing! Many bougainvillea have thorns on their woody stems. For this reason and in the same way that we do when we consider when to prune rose bushes and how to do it, it is essential to use thick gardening gloves to avoid hurting ourselves. It also doesn’t hurt, if our plant has a good size, to protect ourselves with glasses.

Find your perfect pruning shears in our section of garden tools

Apart from this, it is just as important to choose the correct pruning tools. Even if our plant has a significant size, gardening scissors will suffice. Of course: before starting to prune, it is essential to check that the edges are fine and that it is disinfected. Remember that pruning is inflicting a wound on any plant, so it is essential to do as little damage as possible and prevent it from being a source of infection.

2. Evaluate your plant by observing it from afar

It is the best way to know what you need to prune, and what shape you want to give it. It will also help you see which branches could be dangerous to nearby buildings or even to other bushes or trees around you.

3. Prune to the shape you want it to be

By default, bougainvillea is a climbing plant. If that is our wish, it will suffice to remove dry or weakened branches with scissors. We can also remove, from the trunk, those branches that disfigure the whole. If we also want to lighten the appearance of the base so that it has a cleaner trunk, we will also have to remove the lower branches even if they are healthy. In addition to cleaning it up, after pruning it is a good time to place stakes to help our plant grow in the direction we want.

Finally, it is important to slightly trim the tips of the branches. In this way, we will stimulate growth.

A tree-like bougainvillea? It can!

But it is not the only way to enjoy our plant. We can also play with pruning to give it a bushy appearance. To do this we will have to prune it at medium height to stimulate the growth of the lower stems. To do it correctly, we will always cut a centimeter above the bud of the stems. We will also have to eliminate the lower stems that are born, with a view to leaving the trunk clean.

Finally, it is important to place a central stake to guide its development vertically and slightly prune the tips of the branches.


And we come to the most important thing: when to prune the bougainvillea so that this task works in your favor instead of against you. Unlike other shrubs, which appreciate a pruning in summer, thoroughly cleaning up our bougainvillea requires waiting until the end of winter. Although the February pruning is a classic in gardening, in the case of this plant it is not strictly so.

In addition to pruning, the moderate use of a specific, slow-release fertilizer will favor flowering. Use it in spring and autumn

When to prune the bougainvillea, it is mandatory to be aware of the weather. The ideal is to carry out this task when the cold nights begin to be less intense but also checking that the plant has not started its period of activity. If we put off the task too long, we run the risk of pruning it has started to create new leaves and stems. And what is the problem? That it will not develop as vigorously as it should.

In addition, both during the spring and during the summer, it is worth doing light pruning. If we continue to cut the stems a few centimeters during these two seasons, we will make our plant grow more and lengthen its flowering period.

And here comes the usual question: in autumn, is it not pruned? Well, it’s really not recommended. Since it is a plant that remains active and alive until the onset of cold, severe pruning at this time can weaken it. It would lose too much sap just before the arrival of the cold, an enemy of any plant. The only thing that we can do in autumn is to apply a light pruning, removing those new green stems that disfigure the whole.

And, following these simple guidelines, there is no doubt: the bougainvillea will reward us for the effort by filling it with color and beauty. Impossible to give up this show!

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