Bougainvillea Leaves Turning Brown? [Causes & Solution]

Are you worried because of your Bougainvillea leaves turning brown? You’re probably thinking about what has attacked the leaves or what maintenance you have skipped, right? 

Just to relax you a bit, this is a very common problem with Bougainvillea & I am not lying.

Multiple factors can be blamed for leaves turning brown. Fungal & bacterial infections, over or underwatering, the overdose of fertilizers, root problems, watering with salt water, lack of sunlight, etc are the main factors.

If you fail to take proper care of these issues, the leaves will turn brown and start falling off.

Well, this is an apprehensive condition for Bougainvillea lovers, but almost every problem has a solution, right?

In this article, I am going to provide you with an overall solution to these problems.

So, come along. Let’s dive into it-

Reasons & Solutions of Bougainvillea Leaves Turning Brown

Bougainvellia blooms and green leaves

Fungal & Bacterial Attack On Bougainvillea

Bacterial & fungal infections can cause brown spots on your bougainvillea leaves. Both fungi & bacteria can be considered as familiar antagonists of the entire world of floras. Most of the plant diseases are somehow related to microorganisms like these two.


Fungi & bacteria are pathogens, which means they produce diseases to their hosts. Unfortunately, plants fulfill all the categories as a host. Sounds bad, right? The good thing is there are many beneficial fungi & bacteria too.

Anyway, fungi & bacteria can enter the plant body in different ways. Such as-

  1. Natural openings- Stomata, Hydathode, etc
  2. Tiny openings because of wounds or damages.

A word of caution- most wounds are made by insects, that’s another reason why protecting your plants from harmful insects should be your prioritized concern.


You don’t have to be a prominent observer to identify their presence. 

Dark Brownish circles on the leaf surface mark their presence. The shape of the circles can be a little irregular too and most of the time contains dark margins.

But if you want to differentiate between fungal or bacterial leaf spots, that can be a tough call! Let me simplify it for you- bacterial leaf spots tend to be more angular and usually contain a yellow halo around the circle. 

Controlling Measures & Prevention

To control fungal & bacterial infection, prevention is the most effective way.

Removal of infected leaves is the best choice. Believe it or not, there is no effective cure for bacterial leaf spots. Fungicides can help prevent the spread of fungal spores. There are plenty of renowned fungicides. Here’s my suggestion for you(our pick: Garden Safe 510992 Fungicide Concentrate).

Neem oil works as a fungicide effectively. You can easily make a mixture and spray it all over the plant. The mixture ratio would be 2 tablespoons of neem oil per gallon of water.

Strictly speaking, prevention should be the priority. Let me suggest you some-

  1. Keep your gardening equipment clean
  2. Keep your garden clean by removing plant debris regularly
  3. Choose disease-resistant variety
  4. While watering, try to minimize foliar spraying
  5. Light pruning can be done to increase air circulation
  6. A proper drainage system is necessary

A word of caution- Don’t add removed plants/plant parts & plant debris in your compost pile.

Brown Spots On Bougainvillea Leaves

Positions of brown spots on Bougainvillea leaves may vary according to the factors responsible for it. Mostly you will find brown spots either on the edges or in the middle of the leaves. Here, both scenarios are explained thoroughly.

1. Bougainvillea Leaves Brown Edges

Don’t you feel stressed when you see those brown edges on your bougainvillea leaves? 

Brown edges or brown tips of the leaves are a very common problem & a handful of factors can be responsible for this. I am going to explain this in detail. 

So let’s fire away.


Brownish edges on the leaves are the prime indicator, it may seem like edges or tips are burning and getting dry.


Brown edges or tips are the indicators that your plant is under stress. That’s why factors which can lead your plant into a stressful condition are responsible. So what are those factors?

Those are-

  1. Underwatering
  2. Constricted or damaged roots
  3. Overdose of fertilizer
  4. Highly salty water 

Now let’s talk about the 4 factors in detail with control measures.



Underwatering takes place when you don’t water your plant as needed and soil remains dry for too long. 

Plants require water for different reasons, for instance- photosynthesis, translocation of nutrients & minerals, cooling purpose, etc.

That’s why underwatering creates stress conditions for the plant.


Apart from the brown edges on the leaves, your bougainvillea will seem wilted due to underwatering.

Preventive Measures

Since bougainvillea is a drought-resistant plant, maintaining an efficient watering schedule is what you need & don’t forget to remove weeds frequently to minimize shares of provided water.

#Constricted & Damaged Roots

Don’t you hate it when you maintain proper watering but still, your bougainvillea shows the symptoms of underwatering?

So what’s the problem? At this point, you should think about your roots.

Constricted and Damaged roots lose the ability to absorb water leading to insufficient water uptake.


constricted rooting often occurs in container gardening due to the shape & size of the container. 

Too many clayey soils also constrict roots. 

Root damage can occur for many reasons, for example- during transplanting, while root pruning, etc.

Preventive Measures

If it is possible, repotting should be done with a larger container and the soil should be loose and well-drained.

Before repotting, try to remove the existing clayey soil without damaging the root. You know, using gardening tools for removing clayey soil often causes damages to the root.

So, how can we do that safely? There is a simple solution- Soak it into a bucket full of water. The rest will be done automatically. Simple, isn’t it?

#Overdose Of Fertilizer


There is an old proverb that says, “Excess of everything is bad”. Overuse of fertilizer won’t bring any good for your plant but it can damage your bougainvillea severely. There is a boastful name for such damages- “Fertilizer burn”.


According to the types of fertilizer used, you may have to wait a couple of days or weeks to identify what you have done wrong. 

The emergence of symptoms is not an early show! 

Burning tips & the brownish color of the leaves may assure fertilizer burn.

Preventive Measures

  1. Start with maintaining a proper dose of fertilizer.
  2. Instead of using water-soluble fertilizers, try to use a slow-release fertilizer. Slow-releasing fertilizers release nutrients gently which can check the overdose effect.
  3. Use organic fertilizers, such as manures, composts, etc. You can use your homemade organic fertilizers or simply buy them. Check this Bougainvillea fertilizer buying guide or if you in rush, here is a quick recommendation for you. (our pick: Nelson Bougainvillea & All Flowering Vines Food)
  4. Thoroughly water the soil after fertilization for proper mixing & cooling purpose.

Good thing is, there is a cure for an overdose of fertilizer. If you have already made the mistake, immediately leach the fertilizer out from the soil by long watering several times. 

Sounds impressive, right?

#Highly Salty Water

Do you know, an ancient war technique was to throw salts over the opponent’s farmlands? The motive was to destroy crops & put the opponents into starvation.

Got my point? Yes, you are right. Saltwater can be devastating for your bougainvillea. 


There are different sources of saltwater, but the major two sources are either you are watering saltwater or you are overusing fertilizers. 

Saltwater contains salt. After getting into the root zone, it prevents the uptake of several essential nutrients by roots & gradually prohibits photosynthesis. 

Lack of photosynthesis causes gradual yellowing to brown leaves. 


Stunted growth of the plant, brownish burning edges on the leaves, Yellow leaves, etc.

Preventive Measures

Simply use salt-free waters for irrigation. You already know the cure for over-fertilization, right? Use well-drained loose soil so that salts can leach away.

2. Brown Spots In The Middle Of Bougainvillea Leaves

I hope you are not puzzled by these spot dilemmas. Come on! Plants don’t speak. They provide so many things to us, so they deserve a little care.


Overwatering is a phenomenon when the oxygen-filled pores of the soils get replaced by water. Lack of oxygens can cause major stress to your bougainvillea and leaves may start to get brown as an initial process of perishing. 


Unlike edges or tips, if you see brown spots in the middle, probably your plant is facing overwatering.

As bougainvillea is fond of dry weather & drought-tolerant plants, overwatering & cold weather causes severe stress. And in response, leaves start turning brown & falling off.

Preventive Measures 

Honestly speaking, watering our plants properly is a troublesome issue. You can give it a fair shot maintaining a thumb rule- “Water only when the soil is dry”

So how do we understand whether soil is dry or not?

I hope you are not afraid of getting dirty but you can easily feel it dipping your finger for one or two-inch into the soil.

If that’s not your method, you can use a moisture meter. Here’s a suggestion for you-(Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden)

Another question may arise: How often should bougainvillea be watered?

No one can suggest an exact watering schedule, because many environmental factors are involved. You should stick to that thumb rule.

But still, If you want the measurement, youngs need regular watering but for a fully grown bougainvillea, you can do a deep watering after every three or four weeks.

 #Lack of Sunlight


Bougainvillea is a sun-loving plant. Profuse flowering requires a high light intensity of a minimum of six hours every day.

Lack of sunlight may cause the yellowing of leaves initially, which eventually turns into brown leaves over time.

Keeping environmental & geographical factors aside, the wrong placement of your container or plant is the prime cause of not getting proper sunlight.


  1. The lower leaves of your bougainvillea will be brown.
  2. The portion of your plant which normally stays opposite to the light source will be discolored.

Preventive Measures

Ensure proper sunlight for your bougainvillea & let this flower machine bloom.


After this thorough discussion, the bottom line is “Pay attention to your Bougainvillea”.

By showing you these brown spots, edges, your bougainvillea is telling you that, pay attention sir, double-check facts like- over or underwatering, fungal or bacterial infection, over-fertilization, insufficient sunlight, presence of saltwater, root problems, etc.

Now you know the reasons why bougainvillea leaves are turning brown & you also have the solutions.

so go out there & save your plant!!

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