Bougainvillea winter damage
I recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida and we planted a pair of bougainvilleas 20 months ago. They seemed to thrive last year even through the winter and are now about 5-6 feet tall. Last week we had a rare freeze where the temperature dropped to approximately 20 degrees F. Now the plants have lost all their leaves. Is there any hope the the plants will survive and is there anything I can do to help at this point?
Bougainvilleas can recover from some frost damage as long as the roots were not frozen. The amount of damage will depend on how low and how long the plant was exposed to freezing temperatures. They will tolerate temperatures as low as 30-40F for a short time. Not much you can do at this point but to wait and see. Wait until all danger of frost has passed in your area. See if some of the damaged branches recovered. They may surprise you and re sprout with new growth in the spring.
Once you asses the winter damage, you can prune your bougainvillea in early spring. If you prune too early and get another frost, any new growth is especially sensitive to frost and will be damaged.
Cut the plant back by 1/2 and prune out any dead stems and leggy growth in early spring.
Begin fertilizing monthly when it starts putting on new growth.
If another frost is eminent cover your plant with a blanket.
more info on bougainvillea care