Bougainvillea_Lodders Holland_Edo bonsai

Bougainvillea glabra

Bougainvillea glabra

An evergreen plant which is a thorny ornamental vine, bush or tree which is originally from South America and can sometimes become deciduous if kept warm over winter or kept too moist. They are very decorative plants with attractive flowers from scarlet to lilac in colour. They have thorns that are tipped with a black waxy substance and the leaves are alternate and simple ovate-acuminate.



To ensure flowering the Bougainvillea will need to go through a period of dormancy at a low temperature before flowering but not exposed to freezing temperatures so keep below 18 degrees Celsius during winter but above 10 degrees. The flower part is actually very small but it is the surrounding papery bracts that provide the distinctive colour and show off the plant to its full advantage.



Prune in later winter or early spring just before growth begins. They flower on the current seasons growth. Usually flower better when roots confined. Pruning to shape the crown can be carried out before or after flowering but to avoid pruning off flower buds pruned otherwise after flowering to set the shape for next years flower display. If you prune too heavily you will increase foliage density at the expense of the flowers but this depends on the final image you want. Wire during the growing period.

Bouganvillia flower


Feed whilst in flower and throughout the Spring and Summer.



They do not tolerate severe root pruning so shortening of main roots and larger roots should be kept to a minimum and done after flowering. Continue to sort out the root system over a period of repotting seasons annually if the roots need to be developed or improved. Repotting is therefore carried out in early Spring.

Bougainvillea glabra

Bougainvillea glabra


Protect from freezing temperatures and frosts. Water frequently whilst flowering and soil can dry out before watering as roots not needing to be kept moist at all times. It grows well in sunny positions but avoid placing in full sun if grown in partial sun and introduce gradually to full sun to avoid leaf burn. It is a species that given it’s origin can be kept indoors in the UK to maintain a constant and warmer growing temperature and some forms are tropical while others are more temperate.

Bougainvillea_Lodders Holland_Edo bonsai


They are generally pest free but can suffer from aphids and some caterpillars.

Where to buy

Bougainvillea can be sourced from garden centres, specialist plant growers and bonsai nurseries, they have a range of both tropical and temperate Bougainvillea available at Hoka-en Bonsai Studio which is the source of the majority of photographs in the post.



Author Date Title Publisher ISBN
Adams, Peter 1991 Successful Bonsai Growing Ward Lock 0-7063-7040-6
Adams, Peter 1993 Successful Bonsai Shaping Ward Lock 0-7063-7138-0
Ainsworth, John 1988 The art of indoor bonsai, cultivating tropical, sub tropical and tender bonsai Ward Lock 0-7063-6704-9
Albex, Morten 2007 Majesty in miniature Shohin Bonsai unlocking the secrets of small trees Stone Lantern Publishing 978-0-9767550-6-7
Benz, Willi 2002 Bonsai Kusamono Suiseki A Practical Guide for Organizing Displays with Plants and Stones Willi Benz 3-00-009322-2
Bricknell, Christopher & Joyce, David 1996 The Royal Horticultural Society Pruning & Training A fully inustrated Plant-by Plant Manual Dorling Kindersley 0-7513-0207-4
Brown, George E 2004 The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers Timber Press 0-88192-613-2
Buczacki, Stefan 1998 Best Pruning Hamlyn 0-600-59022-4
Coussin, Craig 2007 The handbook of bonsai D&S Books Ltd 1-903327-54-7
Giorgi, Gianfranco 1990 Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Bonsai Imon & Schuster Inc 0-671-73488-1
Hillier, John & Coombes, Allen 1972 The Hillier Manual of Trees & Shrubs David & Charles 978-0-7153-2664-0
Kobayashi, Norio 1962 Bonsai-Miniature potted trees Japan Travel Bureau
Kramer, Fay 1973 Bonsai Miniatures Quick & Easy Shufunotomo co Ltd 07-975322-5
Lesniewicz, Paul 1985 Indoor Bonsai Cassell & Co 0-7137-1700-9
Norman, Ken 2005 The complete practical encyclopedia of bonsai The essential step-by-step guide to creating, growing and displaying bonsai with over 800 photographs Hermes House 978-1-84477-899-7
Tomlinson, Harry 1990 The Complete book of bonsai A practical guide to the art of cultivation of bonsai Dorling Kindersley 0-86318-484-7
Yashiroda, Kan 1960 Japanese Miniature trees their style, cultivation & training Faber and Faber