Bringing Bougainvillea Indoors

bougainvillea love

Are you a bougainvillea lover like me? Maybe the part of me that was always drawn to California is the same part of me that’s responsible for my complete and utter obsession with this gorgeous vine. It’s felt omnipresent throughout my life on the west coast — both in northern and southern California. I’ve been known to document it around the Bay Area, like the above (can you believe this one from Los Gatos?), or this one or this one, or my all time favorite: this one.

However, something you don’t see quite as often is bougainvillea used indoors, as a cut flower in a vase. Seeing a huge arrangement of bougainvillea in Anderson Cooper’s Trancoso, Brazil home got me thinking about this. You know what I realized? Every time I see a floral arrangement styled with bougainvillea, I’m so charmed by it and find it incredibly beautiful.

bougainvillea coffee table centerpieces in the home of Anderson Cooper | Architectural Digest online July 2016, photography by Simon Upton

from Architectural Digest; image by Simon Upton

Isn’t this absolutely stunning? I love how wild and natural it looks, and the drama it brings given the low furnishings in the rest of the living space.

And, here are plenty more examples of trimmed bougainvillea, that are a little more manageable for your everyday indoor display: 

A House in the Hills Kitchen with bougainvillea

from A House in the Hills

Sarah’s former Palm Springs home had a beautiful bougainvillea plant; I’m forever inspired by this image she snapped of the flowers proudly displayed in her kitchen. The white and hot pink is like instant happiness.

Modern Palm Springs House | photography by A House in the Hills

from A House in the Hills

She also created smaller arrangements with it, like here in her living room. Isn’t it pretty with the mix of gold and leather? It strikes me as such a versatile flower — it can be wild, but ladylike, just depends on how you trim it.

bougainvillea arrangement | image via Carrie Bradshaw Lied

from Carrie Bradshaw Lied

Kathleen from Carrie Bradshaw Lied discovered how beautiful a small cutting of bougainvillea looks when mixed with other flowers. I like the idea of creating a larger arrangement by grouping bits of bougainvillea amongst other small vases filled with hydrangeas. I think this could work well with white or pink peonies too, since they have a similar large, bulbous shape. You could do this with a whole bunch of vases (or old mason jars, recycled candle cups, juice glasses, etc) and make a really dramatic centerpiece for a dining table (hmm…giving me ideas!).

beautiful bougainvillea arrangement | styling and design by Kiana Underwood of Tulipina, photography by Nathan Underwood

from Tulipina; styling by Kiana Underwood; photography by Nathan Underwood

Do you follow Kiana Underwood on Instagram yet? You may know her as @Tulipina (I talked about her once before here!). Kiana runs an SF based floral design studio, and she creates the most stunning arrangements. I loved this one she created filled with cosmos (the light pink, daisy-like flowers) and ranunculus. It’s a super luxe mix that I won’t even pretend I could re-create at home, but it proves how well bougainvillea can be mixed with other wildflowers for a really cohesive, soft look. Oh, and seriously — if you want a daily dose of floral goodness, you gotta follow @Tulipina!

Design Love Fest bougainvillea in vase | photo by laure joliet with styling by sfgirlbybay and designlovefest

from Design Love Fest; image by Laure Joliet

A while back, Bri Emery revealed a re-vamp of her bedroom, and included this lovely, simple arrangement of bougainvillea. I love the way the longer pieces on the right drape over and kind of “shade” the other small objects on her dresser. It’s a perfect focal point for the vignette. Contrast this with Kiana’s arrangement up above — it really shows how you can simply snip and plop some of the vines in a simple vase, for an equally pretty display.

bougainvillea vase | image by Studio EMP with floral design by Lavenders Flowers

from Style Me Pretty; floral design by Lavenders Flowers; photo by Studio EMP

I also love how bougainvillea in the right container can truly set a mood. I’ve seen it styled in Moroccan and Mexican themed celebrations, and just love the easy romance it brings. Like, can you imagine roses or tulips in the above container? No way. It has to be bougainvillea.


Are you lucky enough to have a bougainvillea plant? Are you as obsessed as I am? If you have a boug plant, you simply have to try using it as a cut flower, and send me pictures!


  1. 7.14.16
    Stephanie said:

    I’m totally obsessed with bougainvillea! I’d never really seen it before moving to CA and when I finally did, it was love at first sight. Our neighbors across the street have a stunning bougainvillea plant that wraps around both sides of their corner lot fence and I’m constantly tempted to snap a few branches for out living room!

    • 7.14.16

      You should ask them if they mind you snipping! A perfect way to get to know the neighbors, compliment them, and also score flowers for your house ;)

  2. 7.14.16
    Tara said:

    My parents have a gorgeous bougainvillea shrub at the house I grew up in just north of San Diego and seeing bougainvillea always reminds me of home. They are very hardy plants, too–they had to tent the house once for termites (redwood siding) and the company couldn’t get the bougainvillea outside of the tent as it was grown up against the house…and the plant SURVIVED and is still blooming. I love the flowers so much!

    • 7.14.16

      Wow! Very good to know. Must be why they can also deal with the SF cold/fog once they’re established. What a funny memory for your family too!

  3. 7.14.16
    Megan said:

    I wish I had this growing in my garden, it’s so bright and overwhelmingly wonderful!!! I know they can get a bit crazy and out of hand but I love how intense they are when they flower. I think I would throw mine in a pewter coloured vase for a Moroccan style!

    • 7.14.16

      Aren’t they so wonderful? I don’t mind when they get crazy — they look wild and vibrant. My biggest wish in life is to someday live in a house that gets enough sun that I can plant one of these and have it thrive!

    • 3.25.17
      Nicole said:

      I bought a house and have 3 colors – hot pink, purple pink and white!

  4. 5.17.17

    Hello There,
    I am a florist here in Los Angeles, and I just received an inquiry from an Hindu couple that they want to incorporate Bougainvilleas on their wedding.
    where can I get these flowers in bulk?

    Any information will help and appreciate your answer.

    Thank You

    • 5.17.17
      Victoria said:

      Hi Isabel – I’m not a florist. This post was simply about decorating with bougainvillea. I’d contact other local florists in your area.

  5. 9.12.17
    Brenda Stebbing said:

    Hi there
    We’re about to use our beautiful bougainvillea for my daughter’s wedding in Portugal – for her bouquet, the bridesmaids’ ones, buttonholes as well as to decorate the venue and tables.
    Could you or anyone help us with tips about ensuring that the flowers last overnight and look as fresh as on the creepers? Is there any treatment like dipping them in boiling water, or whatever we should know about?

    • 9.12.17
      Nikki said:

      Just watch out for the thorns, lol.

    • 9.12.17
      Victoria said:

      Hi Brenda! I’m not a florist — just featuring pretty bougainvillea. :) I would contact a local florist you trust and ask for their advice!

    • 7.13.20
      Ruth said:

      How do you make bougainvillea last in a vase??

  6. 8.28.18
    Edward said:

    I recently bought a a 100+ year old house in central Mexico. The central courtyard has an old bougainvillea climbing an equally old bare brick wall. I was sitting here wondering about using it for arrangements, Googled it and up you came. What amazing images! How beautiful and inspirational! My mind tends towards controlled, Western style bouquets. No more! Wild, architectural arrangements will grace my table from now on. Thank you!

  7. 3.4.19
    Howard Coke said:

    Good morning,

    I just wanted to know how you keep the bougainvillea looking healthy for 3 or more days, or products that you use, after bring cut from the tree. Any advice would be appreciated.


  8. 4.15.19
    Ben said:

    How long do they last as a cut flower? Is there any thing you can do to extend life?

  9. 12.29.19
    Anonymous said:

    We have bougainvillea however every time I cut them, they wilt immediately even in water. Any tips for prolonging them?

    • 12.29.19
      Maria J said:

      I’d love to find that one too.. I have a red one in the pot I’d like to multiply it.

  10. 3.11.21
    Kathleen said:

    I had hoped he to find here how to keep bougainvillea looking fresh for more than 4 hours. The flowers droop so fast. Any tips?

  11. 2.21.23
    Paul Sacco said:

    Can I control the height a very robust (made up of four stalks of nine inches each) bougainvillea by simply pruning it constantly. The plant is completely self-supporting. Can I control it without a trellis?

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