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Why won’t my ‘Barbara Karst’ bougainvillea bloom?

Author: Kelly Young
Issue: July, 2017, Page 105

ASK THE EXPERTS

Q - I planted a ‘Barbara Karst’ bougainvillea last October in my backyard. It bloomed for a few weeks after transplanting but is now only putting on green leaves. It is growing very quickly and otherwise seems healthy, but it isn’t showing the brilliant colors that made me want it in the first place. Any ideas?

A - Bougainvillea are among the most reliable and colorful shrubs for the hot Arizona desert. These prickly beauties perform well with minimal irrigation and are sometimes said to thrive on neglect. When given lots of water, they will grow vigorously without blooming. Cut back on the water by letting more days pass between irrigations. This should encourage production of those brightly colored leaves that surround the tiny, white flowers. Depending on your soil type and exposure, water your plant only once every two weeks or so during the summer months.
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