When you are growing Bougainvillea and you want it to thrive, it never helps to have a helping hand in the form of the right fertilizer. So, what is the best fertilizer for Bougainvillea anyways?
Overall, a balanced fertilizer is usually the safest way to go – preferably an NPKK of 10-10-10 for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. As Bougainvilleas are heavy eaters, this usually strikes a good ‘middle ground’ to help ensure a thriving plant, although some gardeners prefer their own specific NPK ratios.
To help you to make an informed decision, today we’ll share with you some of the best fertilizers for Bougainvillea and tell you a little about each. We’ll also throw in some ‘newbie tips’ to help you get started and some buying tips for fertilizer, just in case you prefer to pick it up locally.
If you’re ready – then let’s talk about the best fertilizers for thriving Bougainvilleas!
Top 3 – At a glance (For readers on the go!)
If you’re in a hurry, then don’t worry – we’ll give you a sneak peek at our Top 3 favorite fertilizers from our list today! That way, you can simply bookmark this page to come back and learn more about them when it’s convenient and if you want elaboration on our choices, just skip down to the end of the article and we’ll explain more about each one.
That said, these were our favorites:
- Best ‘Sow and Go’ fertilizer – BGI Fertilizers Bougain Bag
- Best for both Soil and Foliar applications – Grow More All-Purpose Fertilizer
- Best choice for potted or hanging Bougainvilleas – Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes
For more information as to why these were our favorites, be sure to take a look at ‘Our Top 3 Favorite Fertilizer Choices’ towards the end of this article and we’ll give you the scoop!
Table of Contents
Bougainvilleas – What kind of fertilizers are best?
While a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 is usually the best choice, it’s definitely not the ONLY choice. For instance, if you live somewhere with fertile soil already, you might want to go with a smaller balanced plant food with a 4-4-4 NPK. This helps to ensure that you aren’t ‘pushing’ too much with the nutrients yet and helps to ensure that you don’t overfeed your plant.
Too much nitrogen, for instance, can cause your Bougainvillea to produce more leaves than blooms, while too much phosphorus can cause trouble with beneficial fungi in the soil or even harm your plant. Too much potassium, and your Bougainvillea can’t absorb other nutrients!
Now, the good news is that Bougainvilleas are heavy feeders, but you should still be careful with how you proceed. Depending on the soil, a 4-4-4 might be perfect or even a 10-10-10, and if the soil is very poor, a 20-20-20 might be perfect for kicking it up a notch and making it better for your plant.
Start small and you’ll find the perfect ratio, but a balanced fertilizer is typically the best choice. Now, that said, you will find some gardeners that disagree and have very specific ratios for the NPK that they like to use. Rather than argue about the perfect ratio, we’re going to share some balanced and some focused-NPK varieties with you today so that you can see what you think is the best for your plants.
Let’s take a look and you can see what you think!
Best fertilizer for Bougainvillea
In this section we’ve collected 10 of the best fertilizers for Bougainvilleas and we’ve made sure that you’ve got a range of different NPKs, so that you can choose the best option for your soil and your growing strategies. For each one, we’ll tell you a little about what they bring to the table, as well as how they did on reviews – including both positive and negative feedback, just to keep things fair.
Just remember to take the good and the bad feedback with a grain of salt – it is the internet after all – and with that said, let’s take a look at those fertilizers and you can see what you think!
First up, we have Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Granular Fertilizer, which is perfect for those who are raising Bougainvillea in an already rich soil. Aside from its even profile of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, Jobe’s incorporates Mycorrhizal fungi and Archaea into these fertilizer granules, so that you may establish a colony of beneficial microbes from the get-go. Many gardeners swear by this stuff, but let’s see how it did in the reviews.
From a pool of 3909 pieces of feedback, 71% of customers gave Jobes a full 5 stars, while an additional 17% awarded this product 4. Praise for Jobe’s All-purpose Fertilizer included ‘plants are doing great after one application’ from “William T. Falzone’ and ‘Mandy’ tells us it ‘works wonders’ and was happy enough to share a video of her resurrected Sago palm.
On the flipside, in the 1 star reviews it looks like 2% of customers felt that they could do without Jobe’s fertilizer, with ‘Masood Mohammed’ saying he felt it was a waste of money and had no progress at all, while ‘cat’ says that the fertilizer was very stinky and that it gave her plants white mold. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but be sure to read the good and the bad reviews before you make your own decision about Jobes!
We don’t normally put the same brand of products together twice in a row, but Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes have gotten such good feedback that it feels wrong to leave them out of our fertilizer collection. These particular spikes have a Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium balance of 8-9-12, so they are close enough to an even distribution to keep your Bougainvillea happy and perfect if you’re looking to boost the potassium the most. You get 18 spikes per package and they’re perfect for potted plants or hanging baskets – just plant the spike and the right amount of fertilizer is delivered like clockwork for 8 weeks – with no waste and no runoff to worry about.
Looking into the reviews, Jobe’s did pretty well for itself, with a pool of 9161 reviews and 73% of them being 5 stars. Another 16% gave this product 4 stars, and praise included User ‘La’ stating that her tomatoes tripled in size and ‘I will use this product for life’, while ‘Sheri M.’ used them with her Azaleas and says she sees the neighbors admiring them all the time.
2% of reviewers were less than enchanted, however, with User ‘A Synthetic Biologist’ saying that they believe these spikes killed their tomatoes and ‘t.messina’ says that they got 10 spikes instead of 18. While fertilizer experiences may vary on a lot of factors, as far as the amount of spikes is concerned, please be sure to check with the seller and even ask for a pic before committing to ensure that you know exactly what you’ll be getting – it only takes a minute and can save you a lot of online purchase headaches!
BGI Fertilizer makes our list next with their Bougainvillea-specific-blend called the ‘Bougain Bag’. Specially formulated for Bougainvillea plants with an NPK of 6-8-10, This plant food also contains 5% iron, which makes for happy, blooming Bougainvillea plants with a once-a-month application of granules. As BGI is the largest Bougainvillea nursery in the USA, it’s a product that you can be confident with and the numbers definitely seem to back up the hype.
Wandering over to get the data from reviews, from a modest pool of 1140 pieces of feedback, a solid 80% of customers gave BGI 5 stars, and another 12% chipped-in their own 4 star reviews. ‘Condi Conklin’ starts off the reviews by stating ‘I cannot believe how this fertilizer turned my Bougainvilleas around…and fast!!”, adding that ‘They are beautiful!’. ‘Dianne Paxton’ adds that it ‘works great and fast on my flowers’.
Flipping the review coin to see what 1 star feedback looked like, we find that 2% of folks who tried BGI had a very different experience. ‘Brian Walker’ starts off our negative feedback by stating he followed all of the instructions and ‘not one single flower’ results, while ‘Mags’ tells us she has a beautiful ‘boug bush’ and after the fertilizer, blooms started falling off. Without more details we’re withholding judgment, but would definitely advise checking your soil’s current NPK ratios in advance if your plants are doing well already without fertilizer – you can definitely have TOO MUCH of a good thing.
Our first 10-10-10 fertilizer is a fantastic one – The Anderson’s PGF Balanced 10-10-10 with Micronutrients and 2% iron! What you get is an 18 lb. bag of balanced fertilizer that is good for 5000 square feet of lawn, garden, or just for your bougainvillea’s to use – your call! These are granules – pebble sized and fairly fine – so it’s they’re easily ‘digestible’ for your soil and the plants you’re hosting and once you see what it can do for your Bougainvillea, be sure to try a little on the lawn – you’ll be happy that you did!
As far as reviews, The Andersons made an impact by scoring 81% 5 star ratings in a pool of 2089 polled. Another 10% gave it 4 stars, so we’ve got 91% satisfaction from the get-go and you just don’t see that every day. Praise for this product included ‘JS annon’ telling us they had some yellow lettuce and herbs and that this fertilizer quickly perked them right up and ‘Willie Joe’ describes it as an ‘excellent product as advertised’.
Moving on to the less-than-savory reviews, 2% of customers were less-than-impressed with the Andersons. One anonymous ‘Amazon Customer’ said that theirs was ‘full of weeds’ and ‘Christina Huber’ was upset that this is technically a golf course fertilizer and she was worried she couldn’t use it. The good news is that it has a 10-10-10 NPK and 2% iron, so it’s just another balanced fertilizer and your Bougainvillea will love it, so don’t let that ‘golf course’ description fool you – it’s all about the nutrient balance and this brand is fine for lawn, garden, and definitely your Bougainvilleas.
Our next all-purpose fertilizer is this Southern AG Granular fertilizer and this 10-10-10 will do your plants right. For veggie gardens and flowerbeds, just 1 cup of this fertilizer will do the trick for 25 square feet, so you can get a lot of mileage out of this humble 5 pound bag. Aside from the standard NPK, you’ve also got iron, manganese, boron, and magnesium, so be sure to share a little with your other plants when the Bougainvilleas have been fed and watch what happens – this is the good stuff!
Poppin over to reviews, we’re happy to report that out of a pool of 1908 pieces of feedback, a solid 72% of customers gave this product 5 stars and another 17% were happy enough to award it 4. ‘Carlos’ calls it ‘exactly what I needed for my garden’ and ‘Jill’ tells us her lemon trees went from brown-leafed to green in about a week with Southern Ag.
Treading boldly into the darker side of reviews, 3% of those 1908 had a less-happy experience with their own Southern Ag bags, with ‘Joel Weiner’ reporting that he got two different color pellets from two different bags and there was more than one report advising that this was a 5 lb. bag and not the advertised 40. At the time we published this it was listed correctly as a 5, so if that has changed by the time you visit please try another fertilizer or simply confirm with the seller to make sure you’re getting exactly what you paid for, Overall, this fertilizer got pretty rave reviews, so we’re confident in the brand, just be sure to check the reviews on your own and use your best judgment!
If you prefer a nice, liquid fertilizer, then look no further than this Triple 10 All-Purpose liquid fertilizer with amino acids and seaweed extract. What you get with this fertilizer is a concentrate – it’s in a 2 ounce bottle, but each ounce will yield a gallon of liquid fertilizer. This makes it easy to store and you don’t have to worry about a big bag of granules getting water in them. You can use it every 1 – 2 weeks, although we recommend starting off slow to see how your Bougainvillea plants respond – every 2 weeks might just be all that you need.
Looking into the reviews, from a modest pool of 1264 bits of feedback, an appreciable 75% of customers gave the Triple 10 5 stars, while another 16% grudgingly parted with 4. ‘Kate Heyhoe’ tells us that she used it on both her Chinaberry tree and Bougainvillea plants and that both responded wonderfully. ‘AZC’ adds ‘I used this to ‘wake up’ my plants and it helped most of them’, adding that they will buy it again.
Moving forward into the darker 1 star side of reviews, 2% of customers felt that Triple 10 wasn’t ‘all that’, with ‘Alia Shawa’ saying that it was too much for her zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, and leeks – yikes – while ‘Tim Smith’ felt the instructions were poorly written. As far as using it with your veggie garden, just remember the NPK – this has a 10-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and plants can get too much of a good thing, so be very careful.
Our final 10-10-10 is this Scotts All-Purpose Flower and Vegetable continuous release plant food. This 3 lb. bag contains time-release pellets that will continue to nourish your Bougainvillea for 2 months after you’ve applied it – so it’s pretty powerful and low-maintenance stuff. Half a tablespoon will work for 1 square foot, while 1 cup can cover 30 square feet, so you can get a good bit of mileage from the lb bag. So, how did it do in reviews?
Well, from a respectable pool of 4526 customers, 74% felt that this product had earned 5 stars and an additional 17% were willing to part with 4. User ‘CO’ tells us that an old farmer recommended using a 10-10-10 and on trying this, found that the Scotts fertilizer had a huge impact on yield and size for veggies in his garden. ‘Tealia7’ also liked Scotts, saying that it perked their rose bush right up!
As far as negative feedback, we’re happy to report that only 1% of customers found any fault with Scotts and that’s pretty rare to hear for any product. ‘Serena Collins’ felt that it was a waste of money as it made no changes to her flowers, while ‘savitrie budhu’ said that it burned their roses. As with any fertilizer, you’ll want to be careful, but the numbers are still definitely solid with Scotts so we’re confident that you’re going to love it!
Ferti-lome makes our list with their own proprietary Bougainville and flowering vine blend which forgoes the ‘balanced fertilizer’ approach for a very targeted 17-7-10 NPK. Many gardeners feel that while a balanced fertilizer can get good results, Bougainvilleas do much better with something more specific and this blend really seems to do the trick. To use it, you simply apply the fertilizer every 2 weeks until your Bougainvillea start blooming, after which you switch to once a month and watch the magic happen.
Checking the reviews to see how customers felt, from 507 ratings we found that 74% gave Ferti-lome 5 stars and an additional 15% gave it 4. ‘HauteCouture’ lauds it as ‘the Perfect NPK for flowering Bougainvilleas’ and ‘C. Fritz’ shared that ‘within 2 weeks of application it produced lots of leaves and flowers’, so it looks like Ferti-lome is certainly on to something.
Flipping the review coin to the less-savory side, however, 3% of those polled had less positive things to say, with customer ‘K’ saying that it didn’t do anything and was ‘not worth a penny’ and beyond this, just a couple of complaints about shipping. All in all, Ferti-lome did quite well with their proprietary blend as far as the numbers were concerned, so we definitely recommend a closer look!
Not everyone is lucky enough to start off with vineyard-quality, super fertile soil, and for those of us who have to really work for it, we present this J R Peters Jack’s Classic No. 1.5 20-20-20 All-Purpose fertilizer. If you’ve got soil that’s depleted and harder to work with, this can really perk it up quickly and get you started, after which time you can likely switch to a 10-10-10 or another fertilizer just to maintain optimum growing conditions without overdoing it.
Looking into reviewland, it appears that a lot of people certainly know Jack – with a review pool of 5075 global ratings, 81% of which were 5 star pieces of feedback. An additional 13% of customers gave this product 4 stars and praise included ‘Stephen H’ telling us it makes tomatoes ‘stand ridged’ and that ‘it’s great for rejuvenating plants and shrubs and is safe to use on seedlings’. ‘Guitarlover’ chimes in as well, saying that they swear by Jack’s for their flowers and that ‘this stuff works’.
On the Negative-Nancy side of reviews, we’re delighted to report that only 1% of customers didn’t like the ‘cut of Jack’s jib’. The most negative review came from ‘Pack Leader’, who said that they got this for a bigger bloom size and that it killed their already-healthy plants, and ‘vickie combs’ said that the fertilizer came with a bunch of clumps. As always, take these reviews with a grain of salt and remember that the numbers don’t lie – just check the reviews on your own and if you feel confident, then give Jack’s a try!
Our final fertilizer is this Grow More All-Purpose 20-20-20, which contains water-soluble granules in a hefty 25 lb. bag that are good for both soil and foliar use. As far as concentrated fertilizers go, this is some pretty strong stuff – just one tablespoon will make you a gallon of liquid fertilizer- and with 2 types of nitrogen, you get staggered release properties to keep your plants perky and happy. It also has a wide spread of micronutrients, including .10% of iron and .05% zinc, magnesium, and manganese along with copper, molybdenum, boron, and sulfur.
Taking a look at the reviews, 81% of 816 polled felt that this product had earned 5 stars, while another 12% felt it should get at least 4. User ‘Ms’ tells us ‘Triple 20 – The Best’ adding that she uses it every 7-10 days and the results are amazing. ‘JVamazon’ chimes in to say that this is ‘basically bulk Miracle Grow’ and that it’s ‘worth more than 5 stars!’.
Proceeding to the 1 star reviews, only 1% of customers polled seemed unsatisfied with this fertilizer, with ‘Sashi Singh’ being the only person to leave feedback and they stated that their plants died and they felt it was a waste of money. As with all powerful fertilizers, we do recommend checking out nutrient levels in advance, but as far as efficacy, this fertilizer definitely seems to work as-advertised.
Best newbie tips for fertilizing your Bougainvilleas
If you’re just getting started, we’ve got a few tips that can help for when you are fertilizing your new Bougainvillea plants so that you can get the best results. Here are a few things to consider and keep in mind:
- Pay close attention to the directions on your fertilizer in regards to recommended amounts and application times. Try to go lightly first as well – if fertilizer is recommended every 1 to 2 weeks, try every 2 weeks first and see how your plants do. If they look good, there’s no need to push it and risk giving them TOO MUCH fertilizer.
- If you can’t easily test your soil nutrients, it’s sometimes best to start with a 4-4-4 fertilizer to see how it is received – especially if the soil looks pretty rich already.
- Potted Bougainvillea can suffer from an overabundance of nutrients – so give the ‘half doses’ of fertilizer first and apply again only once a month.
- Watch for when new shoots and branches start appearing to indicate that the growing season is well underway and this is the perfect time to start fertilizing.
Buying information for Bougainvillea fertilizer
If you would prefer to buy your fertilizer locally or simply want some tips for picking out a good one, then we’ve collected a few recommendations that you can put to good use. Here are some buying tips that can help:
- Hibiscus fertilizer works quite well for Bougainvillea – one tablespoon of it every 3 to 4 weeks can really work wonders, so give it a try some time if your current fertilizer isn’t impressing you with its performance.
- If you’re low on space or simply want to avoid lifting heavy bags of fertilizer, consider going with a nice, concentrated liquid. They’re easy to heft around and you can often get 30 or more gallons out of a very manageable bottle.
- A slow release granular fertilizer is excellent for novice gardeners and experts alike – you can apply it and you’ve got a large window of time where the time-release nutrients will work their magic.
- For online buyers, be sure to check out the worst feedback first when shopping for a new fertilizer. On Amazon, you can just scroll down and click on the 1 star in the feedback section and spend a good bit of time there. Yes, this takes a while, but you want to find this stuff out now, rather than after you’ve waited 2 weeks to get it!
Our Top 3 favorite fertilizer choices (and the reasoning behind them!)
Whenever we present you with a list of our favorites, there comes a time in the article where we need to pick our favorites and share them with you to see if you agree. With that said, we’ll list them here and expand a little on each in the sections below:
- Best ‘Sow and Go’ fertilizer – BGI Fertilizers Bougain Bag
- Best for both Soil and Foliar applications – Grow More All-Purpose Fertilizer
- Best choice for potted or hanging Bougainvilleas – Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes
Best ‘Sow and Go’ fertilizer – BGI Fertilizers Bougain Bag
Our favorite ‘sow and go’ style from the list would have to be BGI’s Bougain Bag. While a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 will do, a lot of gardeners like to take a more specialized approach and BGI has formulated this specifically for your Bougainvilleas. What you get is an NPK of 6-8-10, but with the addition of 5% iron and if the feedback can be trusted, this has made a lot of customers and their Bougainvilleas very happy!
So, by all means, you COULD go with an all-purpose, but with this fertilizer you can apply it just once a month and let the plant food do the rest – which gives you more time for pruning and who knows? You might just see an enormous difference this Spring!
Best for both Soil and Foliar applications – Grow More All-Purpose Fertilizer
For those who are working with depleted or poor soil, Grow More can really get your Bougainvilleas perked up and blooming. Aside from just usage in the soil, this is designed for foliar use – just be careful with this. Foliar spraying can be useful if your plant is doing poorly, but care must be taken not to overdo it as you could easily overfeed your Bougainvillea or even burn it a little.
That said, as long as you are careful, this is powerful plant food that can really work some wonders and the reviews definitely back this up!
Best choice for potted or hanging Bougainvilleas – Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes
Our final favorite has to be Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes and for potted or hanging Bougainvilleas and they are a fantastic, low-maintenance option. Just plant the spike and you’ve got time-released nutrients flowing for the next 8 weeks – no muss or fuss. With their NPK of 8-9-12, you’ve got a great nutrition profile that should help your potted or hanging plants perk right up!
We’ve just about run out of space for today, but before we start wrapping things up, we’ve got a few frequently asked questions that we think you’ll find useful. Let’s take a peek!
Is osmocote good for bougainvillea?
According to TLC Garden Centers, you can use Osmocote plant food for your Bougainvilleas and it makes for an excellent fertilizer. Time-released, it can keep your Bougainvilleas happy and healthy with a steady feed of nutrients that will last for about 6 months. The NPK for this fertilizer is 15-9-12, so make sure that it’s compatible with your current soil nutrient levels so that you aren’t overdoing it with your nitrogen – as this can lead to more leaves, but fewer blooms!
What causes bougainvillea to bloom?
Aside from the right fertilizer, Bougainvilleas need full sun – at least 6 hours – and it also needs to be warm outside in order for your plant to start new blooms. Pruning is a must, as Bougainvillea will create blooms with new growth, so don’t forget to give it a little trim every now and again for best results.
What stops bougainvillea from flowering?
The most common cause of poor or no blooming is overwatering. The roots, if they end up in standing water for long periods of time, may cause the bracts to drop and it may stop blooming altogether or even develop root rot!
Bougainvilleas prefer to be a little on the dry side, so try to water every 3 to 4 weeks and you’ll get the best results.
Today we’ve taken a look at the Best fertilizer for Bougainvilleas and as you can see, you’ve definitely got some different approaches that you can take to try. We recommend going with a balanced NPK, starting small with a 4-4-4, and working your way up but if you would like to try one of the more focused NPK blends, then by all means do so with confidence!
Each of the brands that we have shared today are all excellent and have the review numbers to back it up, so just find the one that sounds the best for your Bougainvilleas and your specific needs and go with it. Provided that you stick with the instructions and take it slow, you’re going to be very pleased with the results!
Until next time, thanks so much for visiting and please be sure to leave comments and share your own favorite fertilizers – Nothing beats experience, so please don’t hesitate to share!
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