Bougainvillea are native to hot climates and grow well with a good soak, then allowing the soil to dry somewhat as this replicates the typical watering cycle in their native environment.
Water potted bougainvillea every 7-14 days with a thorough watering during Spring and Summer. Allow the soil to dry out before watering bougainvillea again. Water bougainvillea once ever 2 or 3 weeks in Winter, ensuring that the soil has dried out before watering. If the soil is still moist, delay watering until it feels dryer.
|Conditions:||How Often to Water Bougainvillea:|
|How often to bougainvillea in Spring and Summer:||Water Bougainvillea with a through watering once a week if there has hot weather and no significant rainfall. If it has rained or there has been overcast cooler weather water bougainvillea every 2 weeks.|
|How often to water bougainvillea in Fall and Winter:||Water once ever 2 or 3 weeks in Winter and allow the oil to dry out between each watering. If the soil still feels moist at the base of the pot delay watering for another week to avoid root rot.|
Bougainvillea should be planted in well draining soil and in pots with drainage holes in the base for the watering guidelines to be accurate and so the bougainvillea is healthy.
Keep reading for the best method for watering bougainvillea in pots and containers and how to avoid root rot from overwatering…
How to Water Bougainvillea in a Pot– Best Method for Watering
The best way to water bougainvillea in pots is to water thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot and then allow the soil to dry before watering again. Watering the pot generously ensures water has infiltrated the soil to reach the roots of the bougainvillea.
Water with a really generous soak so that water runs from the base of the pot, then allowing the soil to dry out somewhat also promotes good development (and promotes flowering) as the roots are stimulated to grow deep in the soil to access the moisture they require.
This is also one of the key reasons why it is import to plant bougainvillea in pots and container with drainage holes in the base as water emerging from the bottom of the pot is an excellent indicator that you have used enough water fro your bougainvillea to meet its moisture requirements.
If you water too lightly then only the surface of the soil becomes moistened which promotes shallow root growth and results in an overall less hardy and resilient bougainvillea that is more vulnerable to drought.
How Often to Water Bougainvillea in Pots
Water bougainvilleas in pots around once per week then allow the soil to dry out somewhat between bouts of watering. Bougainvilleas are drought resistant and required the soil to dry around the roots before watering again. Watering bougainvillea more then once per week promotes the conditions for root rot.
If there has been significant rainfall during the week and the soil is still moist to a fingers depth, then delay watering for another week.
Bougainvillea grow in hot tropical climates in areas of Brazil that are relatively similar climatically to the Mediterranean region of Europe.
Therefore bougainvilleas thrive on the same sort of watering cycle as Mediterranean herbs such as potted lavender, rosemary, sage or thyme.
When it comes to how often to water bougainvilleas, the risk of harm from overwatering is far greater then underwatering due to bougainvillea’s natural tolerance of drought like conditions, so always water once per week in Spring and Summer with a good soak and then allow the soil to dry before watering again.
So if in doubt of when to water, wait a day or so before watering as it is much easier to revive a bougainvillea suffering from dehydration then from overwatering.
It should be noted that there are several factors that can influence how often you water your bougainvillea, so some adjustment to your watering schedule is often needed to suit your particular climate and conditions such as the size of the pot and the material of the pot.
Ideally plant your bougainvillea in a pot that is at least 12 inches across and made from clay, ceramic or terracotta.
A pot of around 12 inches across and the same proportional depth can contain more soil and therefore can retain more moisture.
If your pot is smaller then 12 inches then it is likely to dry out too quickly in full sun (which promotes flowering) during the Spring and Summer before the roots can uptake the moisture the need.
Clay, ceramic and terracotta pots are better then plastic, or metal pots as the do not conduct as much heat throughout the day which means the soil does not dry out too quickly.
Bougainvillea in plastic or metal pots or containers should be watered more often to account for how quickly the pots heat up and dry out the soil.
If you notice your bougainvillea wilting and the soil is dry to the touch at both the surface at the base of the pot (feel the soil at the base of the pot through the drainage hole underneath the pot) then increase how often you water the bougainvillea, which should alleviate the wilting appearance.
If the bougainvillea is wilting but the soil feels moist then this is often an indication that you are watering too often and you should let the soil dry out before watering again.
(Read my article, why is my bougainvillea dying?)
How Often to Water Bougainvillea in Pots in Winter (Indoors or Outdoors)
Water your bougainvillea once every 2 to 3 weeks in the Fall and Winter. Bougainvillea’s demand for water is much lower during Winter and the risk of root rot is much higher, so allow the soil to dry out properly between bouts of watering.
With less light and lower temperature bougainvillea goes into a more dormant state over winter and the demand for moisture is much less.
It is important to note that bougainvillea is a tropical plant and does not tolerate temperatures cooler then 50°F (10°C) at night, and even at this temperature it is likely to drop its leaves (the leaves can regrow in Spring as long as it is protected from the cold, read my article why is my bougainvillea losing its leaves and how to save it)
Therefore it is common practice to bring bougainvillea indoors an place it in a sunny window and away from sources of heat or draughty areas in colder climates.
Whether your bougainvillea is indoors or outdoors, it should still be watered once every 2 or 3 weeks to meet its watering requirements in Winter and to avoid root rot.
Whilst bougainvillea requires watering less often during Fall and Winter it is still important to water thoroughly so that excess water emerges from the base of the pot as watering too lightly means the moisture does not reach the roots where it is required.
It is critical not to water bougainvillea too often in Winter as cold damp soil promote the conditions for root rot which is a common reason for bougainvillea dying over Winter.
(Read my article, why is my bougainvillea not blooming?)
Use a Pot with Drainage Hole in the Base
It is absolutely critical that you plant bougainvillea in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape after a bout of watering.
Bougainvillea prefers the soil around the roots to dry out somewhat between bouts of watering which is why good drainage in the base of your pot is so important.
It is also important to emphasize that you should not use a saucer or tray underneath your bougainvillea pot as this causes excess water to collect at the base of the pot which keeps the soil moist and promotes the conditions for root rot.
I would even recommend placing a 1 inch layer of gravel at the bottom of your bougainvillea pot before planting to prevent compacted soil slowing down drainage.
Whilst this is not always necessary, it is best practice to place your bougainvillea pot on little feet so that the pot is slightly elevated off the ground.
This prevents water collecting underneath the pot, allowing it to drain more efficiently and improves airflow at the base of the pot which can also help the soil dry out between bouts of watering, particularly in high climates of high humidity or rainfall.
(Read my article, how to grow bougainvillea in pots).
- Bougainvillea in pots should be watered once a week in Spring and Summer and once every 2 or 3 weeks in the Fall and Winter. Allow the soil to dry out between bouts of watering as bougainvillea is drought resistant and does not tolerate damp soil. Water bougainvillea with a good soak, rather then a light watering.
- Plant bougainvillea in pots that are at least 12 inches across, made from ceramic, clay or terracotta rather then plastic or metal. A 12 inch pot contains more soil so the pot does not dry out too quickly for the bougainvillea roots to uptake moisture in Summer. Ceramic, clay or terracotta pots stay cooler then metal and plastic pots in full sun.
- Always plant bougainvillea in well draining soil, in pots with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape after watering which ensures the optimal balance of moisture and drainage for bougainvillea and reduces the risk of root rot.