How do I over-winter a bougainvillea? I do not want it as a houseplant. Can I just cut it down and put it in the basement with my fairy lilies? Thank you. Nancy Benson
Hennepin County Minnesota
I can't say I know for a fact you can overwinter a bougainvillea in MN. However, if you plan to dispose of it or overwinter it, then I recommend you try overwintering it.
Move it into your basement in its current pot. Clean off the soil surface and remove insects / egg masses on the leaves. Let all leaves and flowers drop off. Water it once a month - just enough to keep the roots from drying out. In early spring, prune the stems back to green growth, move it into a sunny window and start watering as normal. Bougainvillea are big feeders; in other words, they require considerable nutrition, so when you see active growth (leaves emerging), start adding fertilize each time you water at half the recommended strength. Use a fertilizer that has a fairly high N-P-K analysis (such as 20-20-20).
As weather warms and daytime temps reach 50-55, move the plant outside in a protected area (filtered sun, no wind) for a few hours each day. Increase the amount of time outside each day for the next two weeks until the plant is outside all day. If there's a chance of a late frost, bring it indoors.
Good luck and let me know how your plant does! email@example.com
Thank you so much, Julie! I love Master Gardeners!
A year ago, you asked about overwintering your Bougainvillea, and I am following up to find out it did. Were you able to overwinter it successfully?