Wilting bougainvillea*


My Bougianvillea wilts in the sun.

third floor apartment patio
full sun for about 4-6 hours
plastic container
sits on a table
I water when needed but not too much
fertilize once every 2 months in the summer

I’ve had the plant for about 1 yr. It’s been inside for the whole winter. It’s bloomed once this spring indoors. It bloomed last yr beautifully. But now that the temperature is reaching into the 70’s-80’s I set it outside but bring it back in after only about 30 mins due to wilting. It perks back up when I bring it inside. What’s the deal? This thing is supposed to love the sun. It did last year. I’m like going ‘Are you kidding me? Really?!’.




You did the right thing to bring your Bougainvillea in.  When you bring it in, you could cut it back hard, place is a cool dimly lit location and water sparingly for the winter.  I know that seems drastic but doing so will help ensure adequate dormancy and keep the plant strong for the next summer.  Bougainvillea bloom on new growth so cutting it back will encourage more blooms the following season.

The problem you’re currently experiencing is due to reintroduction into the strong sunlight.  This happens if you allow the plant to flourish inside during the winter and then you bring it out.  It has to get used to the new environment.  It’s something the plant has to go through each year and it’s called ‘hardening off’.    Place it outdoors for longer and longer periods of time until you have it outside all day.  Don’t let the soil dry out completely either.  Keep the soil moist but not wet.  Eventually you will be able to leave it out all day and night until next frost.  During the hardening off period, you will likely experience some damage to the current growth.  Don’t let that alarm you.  Cut away the damaged foliage and new growth will come soon enough.  Your will be beautiful again.

Here’s a link to some helpful information about over-wintering a Bougainvillea.