Q: My bougainvillea was planted in the shade and I have had no blooms. I have used several different kinds of fertilizers but still no blooms. What can I do to make my plant bloom?
A: This is a case of Right Plant/Right Place. Bougainvillea will grow in a variety of soil types, is highly drought tolerant but should be grown in full sun in acid soil to produce numerous colored bracts (similar to poinsettia or dogwood). If it receives too much shade and/or water it will resists blooming.
You may need to consider another flowering plant to replace your non-blooming bougainvillea. Ginger, camellia, oakleaf hydrangea or azalea are all tolerant of shaded areas and may bring you more pleasure. Attached is a University of Florida publication on landscape plants for shaded sites: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG252.
Another option would be to move the bougainvillea to a sunny site. The following information is regarding bougainvillea cultivars, should you decide to keep the plant. Bougainvillea can tolerate hot, dry locations but chlorosis may be a problem in alkaline soil (high pH). Regular pruning will be necessary to shape the plant or direct its growth since shoots often grow vigorously, but Bougainvillea tolerates trimming well. These vigorous shoots can stunt growth on the rest of the plant if they are left to develop. Be careful when trimming to avoid injury from the 1 to 2-inch-long thorns.
This is generally a low-maintenance plant. It is not uncommon for plants often loose many leaves following a flowering period. This usually preceeds a new growth flush. This plant is very versatile in the proper environment as it can be used as a hedge, espalier, cascading or formed into a single trunk tree.
Bougainvillea plants come in a variety of colors listed below. ‘Barbara Karst’, bright red bracts, vigorous growth; ‘Afterglow’, yellow-orange, heavy bloom, sparse foliage; `Hawaii’ (‘Raspberry Ice’), red bloom, leaves have golden yellow margins, is one of the hardiest. Dwarf cultivars include: ‘Crimson Jewel’, combines crimson, pink, and orange; ‘Oo-la-la’, very purple. There is also a cultivar available with variegated foliage, ‘Variegata’. Bougainvillea spectabilis has purple-red flower bracts, thorny stems, leaves thick, large, and hairy. Bougainvillea glabra has smooth leaves, rose-red flower bracts, is less thorny, and is hardier. Propagation is by seeds or cuttings. Check out the University of Florida publication from which the above information was adapted: http://hort.ufl.edu/shrubs/BOUSPPA.PDF