Bougainvillea Bonsai Care - Tips, Care and Overview
The colorful bougainvillea grows naturally as a strong climber but it can be trained successfully as a bonsai. Once you have started training the plant, using basic bonsai principles, bougainvillea bonsai care is fairly straightforward.
Being a sub-tropical plant, the bougainvillea bonsai needs adequate warmth, intermittent watering and pruning to keep it healthy, maintain the desired shape and to continue to train it to achieve the greatest effect. It is not difficult to keep bonsai bougainvilleas healthy and blooming strongly.
If you live in a warm climate that has temperate winters, you will have little trouble keeping your bougainvillea at a suitable temperature. However, if your local conditions are not naturally conducive to growing bougainvilleas, you can still manage to keep a bougainvillea bonsai happy. A bonsai is quite portable, allowing it to be moved to an optimum position regardless of the weather. In summer, place the bonsai in sun for about 5 hours a day and move it around in the winter months to be in as warm and light a spot as possible, even indoors if necessary. Avoid strong afternoon sun as it can be very intense and keep an indoor bonsai away from windows where strong afternoon sun shines in.
Bougainvilleas don't like to have wet feet and so a free-draining potting medium is necessary; don't leave the bonsai sitting in a saucer of water after the water has drained through the pot. Water the plant so that the soil is thoroughly wet and then leave it to dry out before watering again. Test the soil with your finger and only water when the soil feels dry to the touch. You will find that more regular watering will be needed in summer with much less required in the cooler months. If your bonsai is indoors, keep a careful watch on the soil moisture, especially if it is exposed to artificial heating. Indoor bougainvillea bonsai should be returned outside as soon as the weather warms up enough.
It is possible to prune a bougainvillea bonsai at any time of the year but after flowering is a good time. To achieve the shape you want, you will need to prune extra off the branches to allow for natural growth. To achieve a certain shape, wire branches when they are young as older ones can break easily.
After pruning, apply a complete slow-release fertilizer to replace the nutrients the plant has used up from the soil. As your bougainvillea grows, you will need to repot it from time to time, possibly every four years or so, depending on how strongly it grows. Keep a watchful eye out for insects that could attack the foliage and stems; on a bonsai, these can usually be removed by hand rather than using pesticides.
These bougainvillea bonsai tips will help you achieve a healthy and shapely bonsai plant.