The beautiful bougainvillea is popular with its local “discoverers” – the flower from the miraculous family has some surprises to offer with its colors, the abundance of flowers and the sometimes really unusual shapes of its flowers. However, such a triple flower only develops its full bloom if you really take the trouble to overwinter it – read here the most important tips to adequately overwinter a bougainvillea.
Did you know that Gartendialog also makes a contribution to the care of this beautiful plant? Find out all the details about caring for the triplet flower.

A bougainvillea is used to sun and warmth

The triple flower actually reveals its home to us – anyone who develops such bright flowers certainly did not grow up in a particularly gloomy environment, but in a rather friendly climate. It really is, like other wonder flower plants, the bougainvilleas developed exclusively in (sub-) tropical areas and, like all wonder flowers, are known for producing an extraordinarily colorful display of flowers.

The species of the genus Bougainvillea originated under the sun of South America in a climate that knows permanent temperatures below zero degrees with severe frost only in the colder high mountain areas of the Andes. However, only a few bougainvilleas will grow there, and wintering outdoors is only conceivable for most of the triplet flowers in the almost frost-free climate of a southern Mediterranean country.

Unfortunately, Germany is quite a long way from such an environment in terms of climate, and even if the triplet flowers are generally considered to be rather undemanding, they already react more than disgruntled to light frost – you would do well to classify the bougainvillea among the plants that give the slightest idea of a forest breath in be immediately “rescued” to their winter quarters.

Most bougainvilleas need a winter break

If you own a bougainvillea that has delighted you with wonderful abundance of flowers in the summer, this plant will likely have spent the summer season in a sunny spot with plenty of direct sunlight. In our light-poor climate, this is a basic condition for the triplet flower to develop flowers at all, but it does not mean that a bougainvillea in Germany does not have to suffer from a deficiency – South America is really much closer to the equator than Germany, the light intensity is completely different than with us.

If a triple flower has bloomed here in Germany, you could say that it “really gave it its all”. So she needs a lot of support from you over the winter in order to be able to develop flowers again in the next year. which includes, among other things, the best possible winter storage.

Different varieties – different winter requirements

How exactly a bougainvillea is best to winter depends on the variety. Of the 18 or so species of the triplet flower, only two or three species have proven themselves in horticultural cultivation and when moving to new home areas, initially the Bougainvillea glabra and the Bougainvillea spectabilis, today one also occasionally encounters specimens of the Bougainvillea peruviana.

Bougainvillea glabra and Bougainvillea spectabilis are grown in a wide variety of varieties, and one of the best-known triple flowers on sale here is a hybrid of these two, the Bougainvillea x buttania. These varieties are divided into two groups with fundamentally different requirements for winter storage:

Wintering of the Bougainvillea glabra group

Most common in our country are the varieties of Bougainvillea glabra, strong climbers who can climb considerable heights. In contrast to the rather slow-growing Bougainvillea spectabilis, you do not feel very comfortable in smaller flower pots, so if you have bought your bougainvillea from a specialist dealer, it will be more likely to be in a large bucket on your terrace. Or in the winter garden or on a well-protected house wall to the south, where it climbs up.

This Bougainvillea glabra group is the group of the triplet flower that can really use a winter break to gather enough strength for a new bloom. You force the plant to take this break by moving it to winter quarters with appropriate conditions. In the case of climbing bougainvillea, this means first of all to ensure that the trellis is located directly in the bucket or that it is removable and transportable.

Otherwise, moving in the bucket is not a problem, and with bougainvilleas that are allowed to grow in the garden soil in summer, there is a trick that makes things easier: you put your triplet flower in a pot in the ground that you can dig up for the winter. So you don’t have to worry about damaging the roots when digging up the triple flower, the plant can react immediately to the new environmental conditions in the winter quarters and does not have to “start up” again to repair the roots.

The plants are now placed in the brightest possible place for the winter with temperatures between at least 3 and at most 10 to 12 degrees. B. optimal. In various articles on plant overwintering you will read slightly different temperature information, because the exact number of degrees is really not important. It is more important that the triple flower does not freeze to death by accident, because the temperature immediately falls into the minus range if the frost monitor suffers a faulty switching. Or on the other hand, it starts to drift in the middle of winter, because the winter garden is heated for a few days in between for a big party.

In these winter quarters, the root area will only be kept slightly moist, the roots of a bougainvillea are quite sensitive anyway, and they do not like waterlogging at all. However, if you allowed the soil to dry out completely, the triple flower would lose all of its leaves, which would delay bud formation and therefore flowering in spring. In the best case scenario, the plant will now shed part of its leaves, photosynthesis will be reduced and it will go into hibernation.

If you water just a little too little and the bougainvillea loses all of its leaves, you must expect poor flowering in the next season, but this behavior has another advantage: if a plant has lost its leaves, photosynthesis can no longer take place Such a plant can then be overwintered in a dark room, the temperature of which should be around 5 degrees. In this case, the triple flower is almost no longer watered.

The third, least beneficial option is to overwinter in a warm house, which in our climate usually means that the triple flower will not develop any or only a few flowers in the next season.

Wintering of the Bougainvillea glabra group

Summer here is far too short not only for us, but also for a bougainvillea, and the development of flowers depends on whether it can be reconciled with our summer. This includes first of all moving the triplet flower from its winter quarters to an even lighter and definitely warmer location as early as possible so that it starts to develop as early as possible. It will start developing flowers as soon as you can offer it a sunny spot where it can permanently receive a warmth of at least 15, 16 degrees, which can be the case as early as the end of February, depending on the region. If shoots have developed in winter, now is the time to remove them; only the spring shoots will bloom, whose development you stimulate now.

From this point in time, the triple flower gets more water and the first nutrients, the supply is increased evenly as the shoots increase in growth. There is only one thing you should be careful of: putting the bougainvillea outside too early, if it is accidentally exposed to even a surprising post-frost, that could be the end of it. If you have the opportunity, strength or the strong man by hand, you are welcome to place the triple flower on the sunny and sheltered terrace on beautiful early spring days. But you should be prepared to move them back to the shelter at any time until after the ice saints at the end of May. After the ice saints she can finally go outside, now there are no longer any night frosts to fear, even in the coldest regions of Germany.

Wintering of the Bougainvillea spectabilis and their hybrids

The Bougainvillea spectabilis and the hybrids bred with their participation do not need hibernation in the true sense of the word. They usually feel particularly comfortable when they are allowed to stand in a warm place in the brightest possible location in winter, at temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees. If it is bright enough for these bougainvilleas (or perhaps they are supported with a plant light), the Bougainvillea spectabilis can delight you with a winter bloom. In this way, a well-kept bougainvillea can develop up to six flowering phases per year in our latitudes, it will then continue to be cared for as normal.

If they are not kept as optimally as possible, the bougainvilleas in this group also get better rest in winter. They are then placed in a bright place with temperatures between approx. 12 and 17 degrees and otherwise, as just described for the Bougainvillea glabra group, provided with limited care until they take a break. If you irrigate incorrectly during this type of overwintering, or if you have no other option than to overwinter the bougainvillea in a dark cellar, the deficiency symptoms mentioned above could also show up with these bougainvilleas.

Hibernate Bougainvillea peruviana

This bougainvillea with rather small leaves and simple flowers, which is actually not so well known to us, should actually be the bougainvillea that copes best with our climate. She comes from Ecuador, Colombia and the eponymous Peru, all countries with Andean regions that also know the cold.

The climbing Bougainvillea peruviana prefers fresh to moist soil, although in a sunny location, but it should be able to withstand frost down to minus 7 degrees. Although there are not yet many experiences with wintering the Bougainvillea peruviana, which we rarely keep, these facts seem to open up possibilities with which our best-known Bougainvilleas have long been no longer comfortable. That would probably have to be tried out …

Unfortunately, the name doesn’t say everything

Unfortunately, when hibernating a bougainvillea you will usually not be able to avoid seeing the whole thing as a bit of an experiment. Because in order to follow the advice listed above, you would have to know very well which variety of bougainvillea you have, and in most cases that is by no means self-evident: the bougainvillea of ​​the glabra group and the spectabilis group are bred in many varieties and happily mixed up at the same time, and there is no such thing as a uniform international standard. The naming of the plants is rather confusing, in every country, sometimes even in every region, the same plant has a different name, and sometimes the breeders find new names for well-known varieties in order to boost sales.

So is z. B. on a website from the USA the Bougainvillea x buttiana is not a hybrid of Bougainvillea glabra and spectabilis, but a Bougainvillea glabra x peruviana. There is also a Bougainvillea x spectoperuviana, which is described as a hybrid of B. spectabilis and B. peruviana, and a Bougainvillea x spectoglabra, a hybrid of B. spectabilis and B. glabra.


One thing is certain about hibernating a bougainvillea – if it gets frost, it dies. Otherwise, it depends on the exact variety, if this cannot be determined, overwintering in a bright and cool place is a fairly safe way to bring a triple flower over the winter, which you can also optimize with slight temperature adjustments over time.

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