In warmer climates, bougainvillea is a staple plant in many homes, businesses, and public landscapes.
The beautiful thorny, woody vine is an evergreen: providing green foliage year-round and stunning blooms of color in the spring and fall.
Bougainvillea is easy to care for since it is virtually pest-free and disease resistant.
With proper fertilization, these plants will thrive and offer up a bounty of beautiful flowers for everyone to enjoy.
However, the difficulty comes when you go to the gardening store and there are a number of different options on the shelf.
Which one should you choose? Which one is going to produce those big flowers that we love?
We hope to answer those questions in this post as we deep dive into the question: What is the best fertilizer for Bougainville plants?
Let’s get started…
What is the best fertilizer for bougainville plants?
Bougainville plants are heavy feeders and require fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Plant food that is low in nitrogen will encourage your plants to produce those big beautiful flowers.
In addition, Bougainvillea fertilizers containing iron will encourage vibrant, beautifully colored blossoms.
Here is a quick preview of the types of plant food we are going to take a closer look at in this post:
- Nelson Plant Food
- Dr. Earth Exotic Blend
- Dyna Gro Bloom 3-12-6 Plant Food
For more information on each one, please continue reading, but first, let’s talk a little bit more about fertilizer.
Which Plant Food Is The Best For My Plant?
As we mentioned earlier, Bougainville plants are heavy feeders, requiring an application of fertilizer once a month for optimum growth.
Choose a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as a bougainvillea specific or a hibiscus blend, to encourage flowering instead of vegetative growth. Use a complete, balanced fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 to promote good plant health and plentiful flowers.
The nutrient ratio is the set of three numbers found on a fertilizer label; this N-P-K ratio tells the consumer the percentage, by weight, of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the bag.
For example, in a 10-10-10 formula, a 10 pound bag of fertilizer would contain the following: 1 pound of nitrogen, 1 pound of phosphorus, and 1 pound of potassium.
There are 16 essential nutrients needed for plants to grow. Of these essential nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the most well-known. Nitrogen is primarily responsible for vegetative growth in plants.
After absorption, it is assimilated into amino acids, the building blocks for plant protein.
Nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll and helps to make the foliage green; it is also necessary for many of the enzymatic reactions that take place within the plant.
Phosphorus is a component in DNA and RNA (the genetic building blocks within plant cells) and is needed for root growth and flowering.
Potassium works more indirectly than nitrogen and phosphorus. It is not a component of plant parts but activates enzymatic reactions within the plant, making it imperative for overall plant health.
There are many fertilizers available for purchase that can be used to feed your bougainvillea. Look for a well-rated product that is suitable for your gardening style.
The vast amount of options means the consumer can choose conventional or organic products, bougainvillea specific or all-purpose plants foods, and whether the product is granular or in liquid form.
A Closer Look At My Top Picks – The Best Fertilizer For Bougainville Plants
- Nutrient Ratio: 6-8-10
- Designed to increase blossoms
- Apply once a month
Specifically formulated to meet the needs of bougainvillea, BOUGAIN was developed by BGI, the largest bougainvillea nursery in the United States.
This is a granular fertilizer that is extremely easy to use, with a 6-8-10 nutrient ratio and 5% iron. Ten years of industry research went into addressing one of the biggest problems of bougainvillea: the thin and brittle root system.
BOUGAIN was formulated to provide plants optimum nutrient levels, which in turn strengthens roots, increases the number of blooms, and creates a more vibrant color in the foliage.
Proven results make it a market leader in bougainvillea-specific plant food.
Application Tips: Apply monthly, per the package instructions, watering into the soil well.
Nelson Plant Food For Bougainville Plants
- Nutrient Ratio: 17-7-11
- Slow Release
- Apply once a month after bloom
An organic bougainvillea fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 17-7-11, Nelson Plant Food for Bougainville promotes green foliage and healthy, prolific blooms with its higher levels of nitrogen and potassium.
With four sources of nitrogen to meet the nutrient needs of a heavy feeding plant, Epsom salt, and potassium to encourage blooms, as well as extra calcium, magnesium, and iron
Nelson Plant Food is well formulated to feed plants effectively.
Plants get an immediate boost of nutrients following application, and the slow-release granules ensure benefits are long-lasting.
Application Tips: To fertilize bougainvillea, apply a ¼ cup of NutriStar per 10 square feet of surface area around the base of the plant. Water thoroughly for best results.
Nelson Plant Food performs best when applied every 14 days prior to bloom, and then once monthly afterward.
Dr. Earth Exotic Blend
- Organic, No GMO’s
- Nutrient Ratio: 5-4-6
Ideal for tropical and subtropical flowering plants, Dr. Earth Exotic Blend is specifically formulated for plants such as plumerias, hibiscus, and bougainvillea.
The formulation is 100% organic and all-natural, with no GMO’s, chicken manure, or sewage sludge making it people and pet safe.
With a nutrient ratio of 5-4-6, Exotic Blend is rich in feather meal, fishbone meal, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and micronutrient-rich seaweed extract to release nutrients quickly, and then continue to feed plants for several months.
It also contains TruBiotic, a proprietary product containing five strains of beneficial soil microbes and eighteen select strains of endo and ecto mycorrhizae which enhance nutrient availability and corresponding plant performance including increased drought tolerance.
Exotic Blend is a unique formulation that builds soil health while promoting superior growth in the plants it feeds.
Application Tips: For established bougainvillea vines, use 1 cup of fertilizer for every inch of trunk diameter (measured 4”– 6” above the soil line). Gently work into the soil making sure to not go outside the drip line; then water thoroughly.
Dyna Gro Bloom
Dyna Gro Bloom is a super-concentrated, liquid fertilizer containing 16 nutrients essential for plant growth.
It has a nutrient ratio of 3-12-6 and is acceptable for use on fruits, vegetables, herbs, and all flowering plants.
With a low concentration of soluble salts, there is little risk of burning plants when applying this fertilizer.
Application Tips: Apply Bloom before flower buds appear to initiate and nourish flowering. For monthly feeding, dilute two to three teaspoons per gallon of water.
This quickly available, liquid fertilizer makes it ideal for use in poorly structured soils, rocky garden areas, containers, and hydroponic systems.
The hardy nature of bougainvillea, paired with its exquisite color when in bloom, makes it a staple landscape plant in warmer climates.
With it being virtually pest-free and disease-resistant, bougainvillea plants reward owners with a fantastic show of color and vitality when the plants are well looked after.
Providing the essential nutrients for plant growth is straightforward with one of the fertilizers listed above.
Now it is your turn…Please feel free to share your gardening experience in the comments below. What have you found to be the best fertilizer for bougainvillea?