The bougainvillea is rightly popular, it “can” bush and bonsai, standard tree and shrub, climbing plant and wall climber, and above all lots of flowers. They may not be real flowers (the article reveals what they are), but they are really extraordinary with their bright colors and triangular shape. So extraordinary that the triplet is also called miracle flower, its abundance of flowers is the second reason for this nickname – but only if it gets the right pruning. Maybe that’s why some indoor gardeners still shy away from this beauty? No reason to abstain from triplet flowers, bougainvillea can be pruned well and easily in every respect.

Pruning the bougainvillea

Magic flowers are called magic flowers because they can grow into flowering trees in South America. With us, the miracle of flowers can only survive in the house in the long run. However, you do not have to expand your flower window into a bougainvillea room for a bougainvillea. If bougainvillea feel well, they should also grow vigorously with us. If they are kept in the room, an annual pruning is due for reasons of space alone.

This cut is also used for care and health maintenance. In this regard, the bougainvillea does not make any special claims:

  • Bougainvillea is one of the summer bloomers
  • basic pruning at the beginning of the season when the plant begins to sprout
    • quite early in spring, between early February and mid-March
  • Cut back all side shoots that branch off from the actual main shoots
  • these flowering shoots should form again
  • to make room for growth, last season’s flowering shoots must disappear
  • Cut back to the base of the respective shoot
  • At the same time, trim the bougainvillea a little all around
  • belongs to the subshrubs, a cross between a perennial and a shrub
  • the lower part, i.e. the oldest shoots, become woody
    • Blossom shoots above/outside develop at the shoot tips
  • Cut bushy bougainvillea so that it has as little woody “inside” as possible and as much new, green “outside” as possible
  • Cut away 1/2 to 2/3 of last season’s growth on each shoot
  • Triplets in the house over the winter, so if there is a lack of space, they can also get their basic cut in the fall

The flower cut

The real specialty of the bougainvillea is the magnificent and lush bloom. Because of this abundant flowering, we cultivate it. The willingness to bloom should therefore be maintained for as long as possible.

The flower isn’t a flower at all – the little white thing in the middle. The rest of the trappings are bracts, a kind of plant deception maneuver to attract enough pollinator insects despite the inconspicuous flower. It is possible that a bougainvillea will delight us for many years with its flowering and intensely colored bracts.

But then you absolutely need the right trimming care around the flower:

  • Flowers themselves only last a few days
  • Bracts stay on the plant for several weeks and remain attractive
  • During this time they stress the plant, bracts with a display function are low in chlorophyll or even free of chlorophyll
  • are lost for photosynthesis, the plant’s nutrition has been sacrificed to concern for reproduction
  • once the bracts have “done their job”, they dry up like parchment
  • then immediately free the plant from the useless load
  • completely cut off dried part
  • prune the green twigs by about half each, then the triplet forms new branches
  • With each flowering shoot you cut away, you encourage the bougainvillea to form new flowering shoots
  • “Hit” promptly, then the bougainvillea will open the next flowers after a few weeks
  • up to half a dozen times a year
  • Bougainvillea can be cut into permanent bloomers with fairly short blooming breaks

With this summer pruning, you can immediately keep an eye out for those long shoots that the climbing bougainvillea likes to “shoot around” and clip them back. This is only necessary when they stop flowering, at the latest then you should replace them with richly flowering short shoots.

For design freaks

The triplet is the right plant for friends of unusual designs.

Not only because of the unusual triangular bracts in some really shrill shades of red, but climbing bougainvillea species can do much more: They can grow into flowering sculptures in the bucket. You only need the right climbing aid to make a splash as a design element, a figure made of wire, for example. Climbing bougainvillea species can also overgrow fences and walls in summer, there is no better way to turn “slightly dilapidated” into “wildly romantic”, and they can even decorate German facades (albeit unfortunately only in summer), more on that below.

The bougainvillea species, which are more suitable for growing as a shrub, can also inspire designers with creative ideas: Since a bougainvillea can tolerate any cut, it can also be grown as a sapling or tree, the trunks will eventually grow really nice thick. Or to the bushy shrub with a well-defined number of main shoots, if you choose a suitable young plant, you could e.g. B. Grow a double triangle plant with three stems and triangular flowers.

Such special forms very often have to be trimmed all around in order to grow in the right direction. At least every four weeks you should cut back any shoots that grow beyond the shape so that the shape succeeds. This stimulates the topiary to branch again. Similar to a bonsai – which you can also form from your triplet flower.

The more regularly and vigorously you prune a bougainvillea, the more important post-trimming is. Pruning is stressful for the plant, so you should treat it to a little fertilizer and a particularly careful water supply in the time afterwards.

Pruning of facade bougainvillea

Here, too, a bougainvillea can green a facade over the summer season. A Bougainvillea glabra, for example. In mild areas in Central Europe, the climbing plant can climb a few meters with a climbing aid if it is pruned properly while climbing:

  • Lead shoots up (thread in) and thus help with climbing
  • Cut back overhanging branches early that are difficult to get hold of due to the direction in which they are growing
  • With young plants, the main shoots become more stable by pruning, as they then develop an unnatural thickness
  • However, the bougainvillea tends to “develop into space”, which may have to be thinned out for weight reasons
  • Facade bougainvillea receive the annual basic cut in autumn so that they get the right size for wintering indoors

taper cut

Bougainvillea develop the flowers on the very outside, at the ends of the shoots, which continue to grow and gradually become woody towards the main shoots. Therefore, without regular pruning, the bougainvillea flowers move further and further outwards. At the same time, the flowers are moving further and further apart optically, so a bougainvillea flower on the outer edge of very long shoots will eventually look pretty poor.

When this has happened – because the bougainvillea has been allowed to grow longer without pruning – it’s time for a radical rejuvenation of the plant. Which they should tolerate well, in contrast to some other subshrubs such as rosemary z. For example, the bougainvillea should usually sprout well from the old wood. At least with the climbing Bougainvillea glabra there are such reports. With other types/cultivars of triplet flowers, you could start with the rejuvenation cut on a main shoot and wait and see what happens.

Pruning preferences of the varieties

There are around 20 types of bougainvillea, of which three triplet flowers in particular are sold by us. Here are the special features to be observed in relation to the cut:

  • Bougainvillea glabra: Our most common species, bred in many hybrids, climbing bougainvillea that tolerates any pruning
  • B. spectabilis: Also well known, faster growing and less willing to flower, so regular pruning is definitely recommended
  • B. x buttiana: Well-known hybrid with quite slow growth, good for bush trimming and of the three species known to us requires the least amount of trimming care

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