Bougainvillea Won't Bloom

Q: My bougainvillea vine was blooming when I bought it and has grown like a weed. Someone told me not to water it too much so I've withheld water--still no blooms. What kind of fertilizer should I use? It gets some shade.

A: Will you feel better if I tell you that lots of people have the very same problem? No? OK, here are some suggestions.

1. Plant in full sun. The more sun your plant gets, the more blooms you'll get. Bougainvillea will not bloom in shade.

2. Don't water. This vine is well-adapted to arid climates where there are defined wet and dry seasons.

3. Go easy on nitrogen fertilizer or you'll get all leaves and no blooms. Try feeding it once a month in summer with a tablespoon of Epsom salts dissolved in a gallon of water.

4. To get blooms, the vine needs to go dormant between September and February. Absolutely do not feed or water during this time.

5. Vines tend to bloom at times when nights are longer than days or the day-length is decreasing. Some selections are more day-length sensitive than others.

Good luck, Grumpy

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