What is going on with my bougainvillea?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Sean Madanipour, May 28, 2020.

  1. Sean Madanipour

    Sean Madanipour New Member

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    Location:
    Orange County, California
    I have bought two Bougainvilleas 2 months ago and planted in large pots. One is doing fantastic and the other not so much. The leaves and bracts are wrinkly. I have given it liquid fertilizer, diluted epson salt and water every 4 days or until the top soil is dry. It gets 7 hours of direct sunlight.

    It also has this one vertical shoot that is growing very quickly with no bracts.

    Any help in what the problem is and what should I do to save it.
     

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  2. Tom Hulse

    Tom Hulse Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Sean. It appears like you may be causing that condition by your addition of Epsom salts that frequently. Epsom salts are a persistent gardening myth because in agriculture there is on a very rare occasion a legitimate need to add magnesium, but only after a detailed soil test to establish that need. So the usual advice is to only add it after a soil test, and some gardeners just assume that soil test recommendation is just an excess of caution, since they've heard magnesium is essential for plants (it's true, it is essential). The problem is it's toxicity to plants in excess levels, and potted plant soils almost never have a deficient need for it. There is a natural balance in soils where adding too much magnesium can drastically reduce your available calcium and potassium, both of which may be even more important than magnesium.

    So I would stop adding Epsom salts and flush that pot deeply several times over the next month. You could probably restart your liquid fertilizer right after your first flush, but make sure in the future you add it until the water runs freely out of the bottom. This ensures you get a partial flush every watering, and limits the chances of excess salts building up in the pot.

    Also, fertilizing every 4 days is very often, but sustainable in some cases. You might reduce the dose for awhile until all the new growth is looking healthy. Make sure you are using the manufacturer's directions carefully regarding fertilizing that often. If you want to share the brand and dosage you are using we can verify it for you.
     
  3. Sean Madanipour

    Sean Madanipour New Member

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    Tom, thank you for your note. I only water every 4 days all the way to see water coming through the bottom of the pot. I apply fertilizer once a month. See attached picture for the type of fertilizer used. I have applied epson salt only once couple of weeks ago.

    take a look at the new image of the plant now. Starting to see neW bracts.

    There is a tall shoot coming off one side which has a lot of thorns and no bracts or flowers. Should I trim that or leave it as is?
     

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