A Bougainvillea bonsai is a flowering indoor bonsai tree which will bloom for most of the year if proper care is provided and the right variety is chosen. Unlike outdoor bonsai, this plant will not tolerate frost.
This 30 year old bonsai Bougainvillea glabra is on display in the Japanese Garden at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Bougainvillea plants make especially nice bonsai subjects.
Pieces of this subtropical vine are easy to root and train into whatever shape is desired.
Best of all, many Bougainvillea varieties produce colorful bracts throughout the growing season. The small scale of these flower bracts is an added bonus.
Because you want your miniature bonsai to be in bloom as often as possible, choose a variety carefully. The various Bougainvillea colors have different bloom habits.
I know from personal experience that the purple Bougainvillea flowers for months on end because I have one growing up the side of my house.
I also have a hot pink one in a pot that only displays its beautiful bracts in athe fall.
Bougainvillea 'Pink Pixie' is a different pink variety that is especially suitable for bonsai.
If you have a variety that is supposed to be very floriferous and it fails to produce the colored bracts, it is almost certainly because the plant is not receiving sufficient light.
These are sun loving vines. When grown as indoor trees, they need to be right in front of a south facing window or under a light which is left on for most of the day.
The other possible reason may be hunger. Feed the plant with a weak solution of a water soluble plant food. There is very little soil in a bonsai tree pot. This equates to precious little nutrition, so feed the plant at least every two weeks to keep it growing.
Bougainvillea fertilizer should have a high middle number. This indicates a high bloom formula. Mix it up at 1/4 the normal strength so as not to risk burning the small root system of the bonsai.
This is the interesting, hollow trunk of the tree in the photo at the top of the page.
Bougainvillea is a tough tropical vine. It will tolerate drought, and some frost, but a deep freeze would probably kill it. It does not need any cold to induce bloom.
It's a wonderful ornamental for a sunny patio. Just make sure you bring it in before the first frost.
Even though it can survive frost, it doesn't like it. Cold weather causes it to drop both leaves and flowers.
If you forget and leave your Bougainvillea bonsai out late into the fall and it denudes itself, don't worry.
Just bring the little stripper in.
Keep it warm, watered and fed, and you'll see new leaves popping out of its diminutive stems sooner than later.