Are my bougainvillea dead?

by Cathie

We had a few cold nights here in Arizona, below 32F. Are they dead or will they come back?? They are all brown

  12 answers
  • on Mar 01, 2019

    Try pruning off the dead branches. Water it. Then wait and see if it comes back.

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Mar 01, 2019

    just leave it for awhile, it's suppose to be in 80s(day) here but nights can still be cold if daytime temps drop again the branches on plant will protect it from further damages, wait a few more weeks-mid March, then cut it off and it should recover might not bloom for awhile but we haven't had any ground freeze that would have killed root system.Just because all leaves are shot doesn't mean bracnches are dead, don't cut off the parts of branches that are alive check them with your fingers to see if they snap off then cut there.

  • Anthony Anthony on Mar 02, 2019

    If its in a container, it could be...if in the ground, still a good chance its alive. What i would do is get a razor and just scrape one of the branch's, if it reveals a green color under that brown, then its good still.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 02, 2019

    The branches may be brown, but they are very hardy plants and if this has been around for some time and planted in the ground it will come back from the roots. I'd trim off about one-third of the brown and wait a few weeks and it start regrowing from the roots.

  • Alice Alice on Mar 02, 2019

    Wait until mid-March. Don’t be in too big a hurry! I pruned the dead branches off last week and now there’s a deep cold spell on it’s way. I’m in The Texas Big Bend. There is a lot of new growth under all that crispy brown mess. You’ll need some good pruning shears because you Bush is good size and sturdy garden garden gloves. Those beauties have huge thorns. FYI, they’re already blooming across the river in Mexico. 3/2/19

  • Bobby Bouldin Bobby Bouldin on Mar 02, 2019

    No. They don’t die. Come spring and April showers you will be right back to subjecting yourself to their thorns in an effort to control them. You can’t control them either. Their roots are in Hell. Nothing can control or kill them.

  • Em Em on Mar 02, 2019

    We live in Pennsylvania, zone 6. They are not made to be outdoor plants for this zone. My neighbor's plant has survived many winters here. Give it til spring and see if any green shoots come back.

  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 02, 2019

    Hi Cathie, I would leave it as is until the cold passes, then gently scrape your fingernail near the base to look for green, leave it and wait to see if spring revives it, you should see new buds, only then should you trim the dead stuff off. You can also try to fertilize in the spring.

  • Eva Eva on Mar 03, 2019

    It looks very dead and being in a container it most likely is dead. I have six Bougainvilleas grown in the ground and have gone thru some freezing temperatures..After cutting off the dead branches they come alive again..Next time plant them in the ground..

  • Ellis Ellis on Mar 03, 2019

    Give it a chance. Prune off the dead stuff, then wait. You have nothing to lose by waiting!

  • Mindshift Mindshift on Mar 06, 2019

    Bougainvillea roots will survive short durations of cold down to 20ºF, but the plant will have leaf drop below freezing and can show cold damage in temperatures below 40ºF. Plants against a south facing wall are more likely to do better than those on a fence. Pots of terracotta or ceramic better insulate against cold than plastic or fiberglass. Wood and thick polystyrene pots also protect against root damage during freezes.

    If you know a freeze is likely, either move the plant indoors, or cover it. Heavy weight (9oz) garden row cover will keep plants up to 5ºF warmer. A blanket will also work; just be sure to remove it it the morning.

    Once the date for your average last freeze has passed, you can cut off any dead wood. if the wood is dry and snaps easily it's dead. If it bends before breaking it's still alive. Bougainvillea does not mind pruning; you just need to make sure you don't prune if more freezes are on the way as that can stimulate new growth.

  • Debra Luciew Debra Luciew on May 22, 2022

    Last spring, I planted my bougainvillea outside. We were hit here again, 2 years in a row, with two snow events in Austin, Texas. I cut the plant all of the way back to the ground figuring that it was dead. I could not pull out the stump that was left. Surprise, my plant is back- about two inches now😋. I am very excited.