Why Is My Bougainvillea Dying?

Why Is My Bougainvillea Dying?

Growing the Bougainvillea plants is undoubtedly easy and requires less maintenance, but the same can have issues. Bougainvillea requires less care but you cannot wholly ignore the fact that after all, it does require some care. Bougainvillea plants thrive best in hot temperatures and have to be watered twice a month.

The Bougainvillea are known for their beautiful vines and colorful flowers and it is a superb and refreshing treat for your family members and your visitors.

When your Bougainvillea plants do not receive suitable conditions similar to the ones they receive in their native habitats, the plant will eventually start to wilt and die. In such a case, you first have to figure out the causes of such a condition and then you have to take precautions accordingly.

The major reasons for such a condition are the overwatering of the soil; excessive dry conditions; slow draining soil; limited sunlight; and cold temperatures are a few reasons that might cause such a wilting of your precious Bougainvillea plants.

Why Does My Bougainvillea Look Like It’s Dying?

Bougainvillea care

Bougainvillea plant requires specific conditions to grow that are doubtlessly easy to follow but you have to still keep track of a few things in mind. A Bougainvillea plant contains green stems and has beautiful colorful flowers that bloom during warm temperatures and in direct sunlight. However, when exposed to too much moisture and excessive watering will cause the Bougainvillea plant to die.

There can also be several other reasons for the hazard and a few are stated below.

Lack of Sunny Climates

Bougainvillea plants cherish direct sunlight and are mostly found in arid areas of South America and in warm climate zones of Africa. Hence, the plant loves sunny climates and can be killed if not planted in a high-temperature area.

When planted in areas having direct sunlight, the Bougainvillea plant will grow healthy with vibrant leaves. The absence of such a condition for a long time will result in the death of the plant.

Over Watering of Soil

The Bougainvillea plant loses attraction when the soil is overwatered with a little time gap in between. The over watering of soil causes the plant to wilt since Bougainvillea is native to dry regions.

Excess Moisture in Soil Leads to Root Rot

The Bougainvillea will suffer from root rot issues if there is excess moisture in the soil. The dry region plant cannot survive in highly moist soil and it will result in simply wilted bougainvillea plants.

Cold Temperature

The long periods of cold climates without sunlight or limited sunlight will certainly cause the sun-loving plant to wilt. The presence of full sun for at least a few hours is inevitable for the plant to grow. Cold regions lack this feature so in such regions, growing this plant will not be wise and keeping it alive will be a challenging task.

Bougainvillea Appears Dead After Planting – Transplant Shock

Bougainvillea not blooming

If you have recently planted new Bougainvillea plants and notice that the growing leaves and bark are not green with weak flowers, then understand that your plants are suffering from a transplant shock.

The term refers to a condition in which plants have a hard time adjusting to the new environment conditions and fail to find suitable hot temperatures.

How Can You Tell Bougainvillea is Dying?

If the area in which Bougainvillea plants seem dead following a cold snap, which can be responsible for causing other plants to die as well. First understand that if your Bougainvillea still has lush green stems and barks along with blossoming flowers then you don’t have to worry about anything at all.

Also, if the plant has simply wilted owing to excess water, it will recover easily by taking just precautions. However, if you witness drastic browning of the stems of your plants, then it is problematic and you might want to figure if your plant has simply wilted temporarily or is it dead.

Take the following mentioned few steps to figure if your plant has died:

Step 1

Grab a stem of your plant from a corner and gently bend it and notice if it bends easily and softly, or breaks readily.

You have to notice the color of the stem from inside as well. If the stem is fine and healthy, then the color should be green. If it is dead, then the color will be brown.

Step 2

Afterwards, you should move on to the Bougainvillea bark. Scratch the surface of the bark gently and locate the green tissue just underneath the surface. If the tissue color is green then that portion of your plant is alive. If you do not observe the green color then keep scratching deeper until you find the color. If you fail to find green utterly, then it confirms that your Bougainvillea might be dead.

Step 3

Bougainvillea leaf drop

You can check for your concern by cutting the rotten stems from a corner. Make small cuts and look for the green inside. Once you have cut bougainvillea stems deep enough but are still unable to find green area, then keep making small cuts until you reach green living tissue. Make each cut slightly angled and keep changing the positions of the cut.

If your bougainvillea’s leaves turn brown and its stem breaks crisply and you are unable to find green growth even at the deepest part of your plant then understand that you will have to plant new bougainvillea plants in your ground. We recommend that you try to follow the tips discussed in this article for the new growth of your new plants.

Can Bougainvillea Come Back to Life?

You will have to check for your soil condition before taking any action, as discussed above. Once you have figured that your Bougainvillea is indeed dying, then you have to take some precautions to stop the issue. You can revive your plant by following some tips to keep up the green foliage growth.

Reviving potted bougainvillea plants will be easier than the ones planted in a garden. You can easily move potted bougainvillea plants to place with direct sunlight and keep monitoring that the drainage holes are working fine.

Bougainvillea is an easy plant to grow but the same needs cool climate and enough direct sun to grow and using fertilizer for Bougainvillea will enhance new growth of your Bougainvillea blooms.

A dying Bougainvillea plant has to be planted in well draining soil to ensure that the plant is not subjected to excess moisture, which can kill your precious flowers.

So you need not worry, just put a little care in watering your bougainvillea flowers and make sure to keep checking the plant’s growth during the cold and damp season.

Reviving a dying Bougainvillea

How to Revive a Dying Bougainvillea?

Reviving a dying Bougainvillea requires a few steps to follow and keep in mind that the plant is an inhabitant of dry and arid areas, so it is definitely a sun loving plant that will require a dry environment to grow healthy.

  • Avoid Overwatering the Soil

The best course would be to water your Bougainvillea plant only twice a month. Since the plant best grows in dry conditions and excess moistures can lead to root rot and wilting.

Keep checking for the moisture in the soil and make sure that the water keeps draining to ensure limited moisture.

  • Plant Bougainvillea in well Draining Soil

If you live in high rainfall areas then you must plant bougainvillea in well draining soil. Rainfall will obviously cause excess water in soil. As mentioned several times in the article, excess water is like a poison for the Bougainvillea flowers and will rob the plant of its beautiful blossoms and colorful flowers. To avoid this menace, make sure the drainage system of the soil is working efficiently.

If you are growing bougainvillea in pots or baskets, then incorporate drainage holes to avoid this issue and keep your plants alive.

  • Direct Sunlight

Planting your bougainvillea in direct sunlight will best help regrow bougainvillea flowers. Once you realize that your plant is dying then try to relocate your plants in direct sun to help the plant to recover.

Once the plant starts receiving the desired sunlight, then you will witness the regeneration and regrowth of your beloved plants.

  • Grow in Pots if in Cold zones

If you live in a cold zone and wish to grow these beautiful flowers, then consider growing the plants in pots. You can easily move your potted bougainvillea in the regions having enough sunlight. Try to keep this fact in mind that bougainvillea belong to regions having direct solar radiations so make sure to plant them in areas with enough sunlight.

What Eats My Bougainvillea?

The Bougainvillea is known to be a tough plant that is resistant to drought and garden pests. Unlike the other plants, most common pests do not harm Bougainvillea but some specific earth insects may cause your Bougainvillea to suffer from stress as discussed by the Pest Management Program of California. Your Bougainvillea may not survive when attacked by such pests that the plant cannot resist.


The aphids are the famous tiny insects that easily camouflage on your plant’s leaves. The insects are relatively difficult to locate the colorful aphids.

They move in groups and you will always find them in masses. Aphids suck the nutrients away from the plant leaves and produce a substance that creates favorable conditions for the growth of fungus that eats away the plant.

To avoid this, you should shower the leaves with water at a high pressure. If the tip does not work, then mix insect killer in water and then spray it.

The Bougainvillea Looper

The Bougainvillea looper is a tiny caterpillar that can be green, brown, or yellow. These are only 1 inch long insects and are not easy to locate.

They are evening feeders and will not be found in the morning. The caterpillars feed on the leaves and cause the leaves to fall off the plant. They are quite dangerous insects and can be killed manually instantly. They do not show during daylight so it is best to kill them on site whenever you see them.

Sucking Pests

These pests work the same way as the aphids. The sucking pests suck the leaves’ juices, leaving much less nutrients for the plants to grow. This will obviously lead to the decay of your plant which can be avoided in the same way as the Aphids can be killed. You just shower water at high pressure on the leaves.

What Kills a Bougainvillea?

Bougainvillea are sun loving plants and when provided with the friendly condition, the plant can grow uncontrollably and may block walkways. The Bougainvillea vines grow out of control and can reach height up to 15 to 35 feet and may result in a rather bushy ground that can be an eyesore for you and your audience.

If such a situation arrives, then killing your Bougainvillea is the option you should opt. The process will not be friendly and you will have to put in a lot of effort, but with smart tools, you can do it.

Start with cutting the overgrown shrubs using pruning shears. Keep removing the shrubs until you reach the main stem and start cutting the stem with shears.

Then quickly apply glyphosate to the stems to weaken them and remove it using the shears. Repeat this step to remove all the stems.

Lastly, keep monitoring your plant for a few days.

Bougainvillea watering issues

Final Thoughts

The Bougainvillea plant is a beautiful, colorful, easy-to-grow plant that flawlessly resists droughts and other weather calamities. The plant is prone to resist tough conditions of dry and high-temperature zones of the world as declared by the Department of Agriculture plant. But, the plant may die if not given enough sunlight, dry conditions, and rightful nutrients to grow.

The plant must acquire enough sunlight and less water throughout the year. So, a little care has to be taken to keep the plant healthy and water it only twice a week to avoid wilting of the plants. The plant will stay an easy deal but you just need to keep your bougainvillea at the spot where the sunlight is immense.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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