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PAL Question

I have a Bougainvillea that has been in a container for a year. I would like to move it to a sunnier location, but it has taken root to the ground. What should I do to move it? I don't want to just pull on it for fear of tearing and harming the roots.

Answer

The best time to move or transplant your Bougainvillea is in early spring, before active growth begins.

Since your Bougainvillea is only a year old, it shouldn't be too difficult to transplant, but you should dig carefully around the base of the pot to try to loosen the roots which have made their way into the ground. You may have to break apart the container to get the plant out. Try to get as much of the root system as you can. Bougainvillea has very fine roots. According to Sunset Western Garden Book (2007 ed.), "the roots do not knit soil together in a firm root ball, and they are highly sensitive to disturbance." Are you repotting the plant, or planting it directly into the garden? In pots, Bougainvillea likes its roots to be somewhat crowded and potbound. The August, 2006 issue of the Master Gardener's Newsletter from Travis County, Texas, says, "Don't place a Bougainvillea container directly on the soil or else risk the plant rooting out the bottom and creating quite a surprise when the plant is moved." So you are not alone in having this experience!

This document from University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension provides a lot of information about how to grow Bougainvillea.

Keywords: Bougainvillea, Transplanting
Date: 2008-03-13

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