Bougainvillea Help

I felt inspired by the recent Mirai Live, where Ryan and Eve repotted the Bougs. I just happened to come into possession of a Boug. that was just going to be tossed for a different plant material. So rather than letting it go to waste I decided to take it.

When I went to carefully excavate it from the decorative pot it was in I discovered it was severely root bound to the point that I could grab the trunk and pulled it cleanly out of the Pot. I was expecting a finer root system like what I saw on Ryan and Eve’s Bougs. However, I found much thicker and very long roots. Given how extensive the roots are, I don’t have a suitable bonsai pot for it to go in.

So, I removed the lower portion which was slightly loose anyways (you can see in the photo it sags slightly at this weak point) so that I could just get it back into a large enough pot that I can keep it alive until I can purchase a suitable pot. I teased apart the root system slightly and back filled the temporary pot with some leftover organic soil I had in a bag. I also took the opportunity to clear off the top layer of dead material and soil to find the nebari. I topped it with a thin layer of akadama (since I ran out of the organic soil) to cover some of the exposed roots.

I would very much appreciate some suggestions on pot selection and soil composition. How to handle the repot with such an extensive root system and the after care routine to encourage root growth. I have read that it is good to continually remove the bracts as a way to redirect growth, but I don’t if that is for branch development and leaf production or if it will help with root growth. I will add that I live in Southwest Florida.

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This looks like a plant that was in a smaller nursery pot and then potted in the bottom of the pot you got due to the strong taper. How much of the upper soil came off when you went looking for a nebari? I am guessing that you can probably cut off the bottom 1/3 - 1/2 of the root ball if there are decent roots in the top half. I would pot it in more typical bonsai mix - whatever you use for your deciduous trees - with the outside of the root ball loosened up so there is not a clean interface between the old and new soil. In your climate it is apt to explode with growth, but I would give it some protection from the hottest sun.

I am in Spokane, WA (fairly hot & dry summers, cold winters) so my experience with bougies is different from yours. I have two that are out in the hottest part of the garden and they do well, although one wilts a little if I am late with my water. They are indoors once we start to frost.

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See the Red line in the below photo showing approximately where the original top of the soil was. I have also attached a photo marking the areas in orange were I removed the soil and roots. Also, I’m not sure about how it was originally planted but the pot it was in was shaped that way which is why it tapered so much.

All of this was done just to get it into the temporary container. My concern now is based on what has been removed so far how much further can I safely go and in what size pot should it go in. Attached are photos of a pot I was considering (it’s a 12" oval), thoughts? To big? To small? To deep? Wrong color?



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I would get it good an healthy in the current pot before thinking of a report into a bonsai pot. You did quite a bit of root reduction to get it into the current pot.

  • How do the diameter and depth of the current pot compare to the proposed oval?
  • Any idea of the flower (bract) color and how that might contrast with the pot color?
    Patience is a virtue. It only took me 40+ years to learn that and I still got burnt on a repot this spring when I reduced the root mass too much.
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The current pot is roughly 10.5 inches in diameter and 8.5 inches deep. The proposed pot is 12 inches X 10 inches X 4 inches.

The bracts are bright pink, so the green should be complementary.

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I agree that the pot color will work. You will need to make sure the bougie is growing well before that report which will remove about 50% of the roots. In my climate I would plan to wait until 2023 since it had root reduction in 2021. In your climate you may have a good opportunity in 2022. In the meantime promote strong growth and don’t worry too much about styling unless it decides to grow like kudzu in which case pruning will be necessary.

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