Bougainvillea bonsai trees are beautiful trees that make a great addition to any household. This evergreen shrub has tiny, clustered trumpet-shaped flowers that grow on the vines. The flowers can be pink, red, yellow, magenta, purple, or white. Leaves on this tree are oval shaped and grow in an alternate pattern. Bark on this tree is grayish beige and becomes gnarly looking with age.
The name bougainvillea comes from the French seafarer named Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. The doctor on his ship discovered this plant in Tahiti and dedicated it to the captain. These fast-growing trees are well suited for almost any bonsai style you wish to create.
How to Care for Bougainvillea Bonsai
Taking care of bougainvillea bonsai trees is fairly easy and straightforward. These are outdoor trees that like a lot of light, and they should be placed indoors in the fall. Use a well draining soil as these trees do not like soil wetness. Water when the soil gets slightly dry. The frequency at which you should feed your tree depends on whether the fertilizer is solid or liquid. Pruning can be done regularly, but use caution when wiring mature branches.
Indoor or Outdoor?
As subtropical trees, they cannot endure frost and like lots of sun. Bougainvillea trees should be grown outdoors where they can receive lots of sunlight in the summer but will still be able to go dormant in the winter. Lack of sufficient sunlight will cause the growth of leaves to decrease significantly. While lots of light indoors is suitable for the summer, it is not for the autumn months. During the fall, place this tree in a cool room indoors. This room should provide plenty of light, or you may provide grow lights to supplement natural light. Temperatures should stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit but below 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Always check the bonsai’s soil before watering. Watering on a routine can cause under- or over-watering, either of which will kill your tree. When watering, water generously until water begins to drip out of the holes at the bottom of the container. Then, after a few minutes, water generously again.
These trees do not like constant soil wetness, so a soil with good drainage is needed. Fungal infections, which are fatal, are common with these plants. The use of calcareous water is suitable.
Use a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. Since Bougainvillea bonsai are outdoor trees, they have growth periods and dormancy periods. During the growth season, feed these trees once a month with a solid fertilizer or once a week with a liquid fertilizer. In the winter, feed every two weeks.
After each flowering, prune the shoots so that there are only two leaves on each. Pruning should be done in the autumn or winter. After hard pruning, buds can grow from old wood. If flowering is desired, avoid excessive pinching and trimming in the summer months.
Cut paste should be used on large wounds caused by pruning and wiring. Younger shoots can be wired very easily, but older branches should not be wired. Mature branches will break easily because they are so stiff and fragile. Also, be careful of the thorns on these trees!
Pests and Diseases
So long as these trees are properly cared for, they are very pest resistant. Common pests include aphids, mealy bugs, white flies, caterpillars, scale, and powdery mildew. Pesticides can be used to exterminate the pests, but this will not solve the problem at hand. The tree’s living conditions must be improved in order for the plant to really recover. Other common problems include constant soil dampness, insufficient light, and being pot-bound.
Bougainvillea bonsai trees are beautiful trees that are also relatively low maintenance. These subtropical trees prefer lots of sun and no frost. Place these trees indoors in the autumn months where they can receive plenty of light in a cool temperature room. Watering and fertilizing needs are similar to many other bonsai. Watering should be done only when necessary, when the soil gets slightly dry. Fertilize normally during the growth season and every two weeks during the winter. Pests and diseases should not be a problem so long as the tree is cared for properly. Happy growing!