Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

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Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  CSBudzi on Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:38 am

Good Morning Everyone,

I have a pretty healthy bougainvillea that I just brought in to winter. I'm west of Chicago, zone 5b ish. I've been letting the bougainvillea grow crazy. Lots of LONG shoots. Some already mostly hardened off. It's almost too big for my grow light box. Also some of the shoots are obscuring light to a few other plants.
Is it OK to prune these back at this time of the year? If not when should I?
I spent the last 40 minutes researching this and a couple websites said removing 1/3 to 2/3 of the branches is perfectly fine. Other sources say hard pruning is fine this time of the year. One website said I should hard prune in the middle of winter. Others say I should only prune in July?
So I'm pretty confused. I really value the great advice and input I get from everyone here. If some one could let me know if it is OK to prune back some or all of these shoots, I would be very grateful.
(Also I have a ficus with same issue. Lots of long shoots getting too big for my light box, but not as bad as the bougainvillea. Is it OK to prune this as well?)

C. S. Budzi

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Norma on Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:48 pm

Hi CS,    
One question:  Do your tropicals continue to produce new growth with the grow lights in the winter?  

I trim my bougies all year even under lights (sodium high intensity and florescents)  unless I want flowers from the bougies which appear at the ends of the leggy branches.  The ficus also need some trimming during the time they are in winter protection.

Best regards,
Norma   -  Minnesota

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:49 pm



I would cut back the ficus and treat it just like it was growing outside during the summer.

Bougies, I'd do differently. When I was a kid my great aunt always grew them. When it came time to store them for winter she'd simply withhold water and let them go completely dormant. She'd put them in an unheated garage, but would use a space heater if she knew it was going to drop below freezing, which isn't often down here. Needless to say they looked like pots of dead sticks, but when she pulled them out in the spring and started watering them they absolutely exploded with flowers. I think they appreciate the dormancy, and I promise you'll never see a better flowering.

Just my 2 cents.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Norma on Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:41 pm

Hi Russell,

CS is located near Chicago in zone 5 so I would speculate he would need a heater in his garage for at least 5 months , 24 hours a day!

Laughing Norma

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Leo Schordje on Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:51 pm

Russell Coker wrote:

I would cut back the ficus and treat it just like it was growing outside during the summer.

Bougies, I'd do differently.  When I was a kid my great aunt always grew them. When it came time to store them for winter she'd simply withhold water and let them go completely dormant.  She'd put them in an unheated garage, but would use a space heater if she knew it was going to drop below freezing, which isn't often down here.  Needless to say they looked like pots of dead sticks, but when she pulled them out in the spring and started watering them they absolutely exploded with flowers.  I think they appreciate the dormancy, and I promise you'll never see a better flowering.  

Just my 2 cents.
OK, I am from 'up north', so I will have to make adjustments to your technique. BUT, are you saying you can leave a bougie, bone dry, 0% moisture in the soil for several months? Like a cactus? I know many ficus can survive a hard dry out for several months, particularly the willow leaf ficus, and others from monsoon areas. But I did not know the bouganvillea could survive a hard dry out, much less like it.

So, for the bougie, no water at all? For how long?

Thanks

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  CSBudzi on Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:06 pm

I was thinking the same thing as Leo.
OK, I am from 'up north', so I will have to make adjustments to your technique. BUT, are you saying you can leave a bougie, bone dry, 0% moisture in the soil for several months? Like a cactus? I know many ficus can survive a hard dry out for several months, particularly the willow leaf ficus, and others from monsoon areas. But I did not know the bouganvillea could survive a hard dry out, much less like it.

So, for the bougie, no water at all? For how long?

Thanks
But I read today that some nursery's will do that, to trick the tree into thinking its dieing and then when you give it water the plant thinks that now is the last chance it has to procreate. Do it produces as many flowers as possible. Now I have never tried it and it sounds far fetched, but I've only been at this for 2-3 years.
The article I read said no water for "a few" months I though it strange. But again I have no idea what I'm doing in the first place.

My Bigger question is about dormancy. from what I read Bougies are from from pretty hot and humid tropic areas. It seems common sense to me, that low moisture and low temps are a bad idea. In nature are they ever really that dormant?

Hi CS,    
One question:  Do your tropicals continue to produce new growth with the grow lights in the winter?  

I trim my bougies all year even under lights (sodium high intensity and florescents)  unless I want flowers from the bougies which appear at the ends of the leggy branches.  The ficus also need some trimming during the time they are in winter protection.

Best regards,
Norma   -  Minnesota
I do get growth. I was surprised at how much. But of course not anywhere near what I get in summer.
I'm not too concerned about flowers now. Is there a nice rule of thumb on how much I can trim now? Third or two thirds? Hard pruning whole branches?

Everyone thank you for responding and helping me out I REALLY appreciate it.

C. S. Budzi

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:22 pm

There are some extenuating circumstances as why this works down here... First, it's a brief, mild winter.  I'm guessing she let them dry out in November and put them away until sometime in mid March.  Also, these weren't bonsai (although some became bonsai after her passing) and they were planted in heavy "yard dirt".  But other than that I'd say yes, like a cactus.  Some of the smaller ones got hauled to the dark attic.  I know people here that grow Plumerias the same way.
 
I'm just throwing this out there.  Bougies are tougher than you think.  There are plenty of tropicals, buttonwoods and malpighias come to mind, that are a total pain in the ass when it comes to winter protection even here in zone 8b.  But I just don't seeing them needing the kind of babying that other tropicals may demand.
 
R

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Twisted Trees on Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:45 pm

I live in zone 5. I leave my bogies out until the fear of frost comes then bring them inside to a west window for the winter. I defoliate them at that time since bringing them inside causes them to lose a lot of foliage anyway. I water them enough to survive the winter. I expect no real growth. I tend to prune around mid-Jan because as the days grow longer they start to grow new leaves. I put them out after the fear of frost in the spring and defoliate again because I have no desire to acclimate the winter leaves. I leave them outside and fertilize heavily and trim all summer.

That said I see no reason why not to prune now. A bogie is basically a vine and tends to handle most anything I do to them any time of year. If you are not sure then do some mild pruning and wait until spring.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Leo Schordje on Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:44 am

thanks Russel. I will have to give it a try. Makes some sense, the south pacific islands where bougies come from probably do have a sharp dry season.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  bingregory on Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:50 am

I'm in the humid tropics, so I don't know how relevant this is to your situation, but bougies here are among the most drought-tolerant (drought being a relative term) landscape specimens we have. They are stuck in planters along busy roads and highway overpasses, planted in very small soil volumes. Homeowners growing them for the patio or yard are advised to plant them in narrow-mouth pots so less rainwater gets in, and they basically never require watering.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  CSBudzi on Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:41 am

Thank you for that info bingregory.
It's funny becasue if my bouge goes 1 day without water the next morning all the leaves are wilted. I had thought that it was the most thirsty plant that I had.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:37 pm



Maybe the soil is too course and loose. Drains quickly but doesn't hold any moisture... just a thought.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Norma on Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:38 pm

Yes, CS my bougies wilt quickly also, but I suspect it's caused by the soil in their pots. I use almost all small lava rock in most of my tropicals; the ficus never show a need for water but the bougies tell me with wilted leaves that perk up as soon as they are watered. I may add a small amount of organics or haydite the next time I repot.

Minnesota has had drought conditions recently so this does change the way our trees react outside. Taking advice from growers in tropical areas would seem to me a bit risky but it doesn't hurt to share, learn and experiment.

Thanks everyone, this has been an interesting discussion.

Norma - zone 4

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  CSBudzi on Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:10 pm

Russell Coker wrote:

Maybe the soil is too course and loose. Drains quickly but doesn't hold any moisture... just a thought.
I'm using mostly turface with some pine compost. Hard to say percentage. maybe 60-70 % turface? also when people give % values of soil mixes I assume they are going off volume not weight right?
What kind of soil are you using for your bougies?

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Russell Coker on Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:41 pm



I'm not growing any now, but I usually mix turface, flower rock (crushed red lava), and pine/fir bark in equal parts. Seems like I always end up adding more bark so it's probably more like 50/50 in the end. When soil is too loose all of your roots end up chasing the water to the bottom of the pot. Then you end up with a mat across the bottom and nothing else in the pot. The roots in the upper part dry out too fast and die off.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:54 am

Russell,

did Leo, leave you all a lulu ?
Perhaps checking to see if anyone is really reading?
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:55 am



You lost me....

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:22 am

Where do Bougainvilleas come from ?
Khaimraj

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  dorothy7774 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:52 am

Leo Schordje wrote:thanks Russel. I will have to give it a try. Makes some sense, the south pacific islands where bougies come from probably do have a sharp dry season.
I thought they originate from South America?

Best,
Dorothy

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:33 am

Ooops, Embarassed the "Vague but True" section of my brain failed. I was incorrect in my assumption. Bouganvillea do not originate on the Island of Bouganville in the south Pacific. According to Wikipedia, (I 'always' believe Wikipedia) Bouganvillea was were described from South America, and it is a genus of up to 18 species (only 4 if you are a taxa lumper) from South America, including Brazil, Peru and Argentina. Wiki states that they are deciduous in wet-dry climates. Shocked My assumption was the Island of Bouganville was a wet dry climate. But both Brazil and Argentina have large areas with distinct wet and dry seasons. So my presumption that the home habitat for Bouganvillea was a wet-dry climate, was correct, I just had them coming from the wrong place. Embarassed 

By the way, there's a bit of interesting history in its discovery, from Wikipedia; "The first European to describe these plants was Philibert Commerçon, a French botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation, and first published for him by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789.[3] It is possible that the first European to observe these plants was Jeanne Baré, Commerçon's lover and assistant whom he sneaked on board (despite regulations) disguised as a man (and who thus became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe).[4]"

So the first to see Bougainvillea growing in the wild was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Kinda cool.

But at any rate, Russel's suggestion on how to winter Bougainvillea does not contradict its natural history. Since it comes from regions that include areas with sharp wet and dry seasons, it makes sense that it is capable of surviving a hard prolonged dry out. My understanding from my orchid reading, that in areas of Brazil south of São Paulo, inland (west) of the coastal mountain range, the grasslands of southern Brazil and northern Argentina do experience a distinct dry season every year. So it make sense that Bouganvillea, especially species from those areas would be adapted to drought. So if you are feeling adventuresome, and don't have room in the windows or light garden for your bougie in winter, try drying it out and storing it in a cool dry spot, out of the light would be ok.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  CSBudzi on Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:05 am

Leo Schordje wrote:Ooops, Embarassed the "Vague but True" section of my brain failed. I was incorrect in my assumption. Bouganvillea do not originate on the Island of Bouganville in the south Pacific. According to Wikipedia, (I 'always' believe Wikipedia) Bouganvillea was were described from South America, and it is a genus of up to 18 species (only 4 if you are a taxa lumper) from South America, including Brazil, Peru and Argentina. Wiki states that they are deciduous in wet-dry climates. Shocked My assumption was the Island of Bouganville was a wet dry climate. But both Brazil and Argentina have large areas with distinct wet and dry seasons. So my presumption that the home habitat for Bouganvillea was a wet-dry climate, was correct, I just had them coming from the wrong place. Embarassed 
Thank you for looking that up. That is great stuff. Makes sense that you can dry them out now. Just like Russels Aunt in Alabama.
When I read "deciduous IN wet dry climates"  I read it as it can be deciduous if in wet dry. If not in wet dry then can remain active all year round without being dormant. I know some trees need dormancy, and others REALLY bennifit from it but dont need it. Of course still others dormancy is bad for them.
I wish I had another bougie to leave one to go dormant. and the other to water normally.  To see which bennifits the plant more. I'm still so new at this and have so few precious trees. Trying anything "adventurous", as you put it, is aboslutly terrifying right now. : )
Maybe next year.

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:01 am

Hardy to zone 9 or 9b according to who/m you read.
There used to be an image on Google that showed them in Brazil as actual trees, with trunks, could not however find it for you folk.
Reference also locates a Trinitaria from Venezuela.

Could never grow one if my life depended on it - chuckle.

Saw something about never needing repot????
Do the roots simply rot and feed back into the plant ?
Also something about adding lime ???

From Brazil, they are supposed to hang out on the coast?

Half the problems with this plant info, is no one leaves really concrete information - as in I have seen them growing x or I touched the vine/shrub/tree here and so on.

Well as Norma said - risky for Tropical folk to try and help out.
Bougainvilleas down here grow like weeds, and live in confinement for many, many,many years.
My neighbour has it as a hedge,pain in the butt, clogs the public drain with tons of fallen leaves- bah humbug -ha ha ha
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  dorothy7774 on Sun Oct 13, 2013 4:50 pm

Leo, thank you very much for the info! More than I ever knew.

Best,
Dorothy

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Re: Quick bougainvillea and ficus pruning question

Post  Leo Schordje on Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:34 pm

CSBudzi wrote:
Thank you for looking that up. That is great stuff. Makes sense that you can dry them out now. Just like Russels Aunt in Alabama.
When I read "deciduous IN wet dry climates"  I read it as it can be deciduous if in wet dry. If not in wet dry then can remain active all year round without being dormant. I know some trees need dormancy, and others REALLY bennifit from it but dont need it. Of course still others dormancy is bad for them.
I wish I had another bougie to leave one to go dormant. and the other to water normally.  To see which bennifits the plant more. I'm still so new at this and have so few precious trees. Trying anything "adventurous", as you put it, is aboslutly terrifying right now. : )
Maybe next year.
Now you have an excuse to pick up another tree!

I agree, clearly from what I've seen Bouganvillea available in the garden trade are "faculative" in that they can survive in a wide range of conditions, and the dry season dormancy does not appear to be mandatory. But it is an optional technique available for those who do not have enough window shelf space in winter. I would also guess that the larger the Bouganvillea, the better shape it will survive the dry season. I would hesitate to try this technique with a young cutting, or any Bougie less than 1 inch in trunk diameter.




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