Propagating bougainvillea from cuttings

How to Propagate Bougainvillea From Cuttings

Bougainvillea is a great flowering plant which adds vibrant colors to the garden. It produces leaves of different colors. It is a beautiful plant that can be grown in pots and a great gift plant. Given below is a step by step procedure to grow bougainvillea from cuttings.
Follow these steps to propagate bougainvilleas from cuttings with high success rate. I have grown several bougainvillea cuttings of different colors by this method with 100 percent success rate and gifted the plants to my friends. Looking to my bougainvilleas, my neighbors often ask me, can bougainvillea be grown from a cutting? Yes, it is easy and quick!

Related Articles on Bougainvillea:
Bougainvillea care in pots | How to get bougainvillea to bloom | Bonsai Bougainvillea Care | How to make Bougainvillea Bonsai | Bonsai Bougainvillea Training | Bougainvillea Bonsai Pruning | Video – Propagating Bougainvillea from cuttings
The bougainvillea plant can be propagated from seeds, stem cuttings and by layering. The propagation of bougainvillea from seeds is difficult as compared to growing it from cuttings.
First the collection of bougainvillea seeds from flowers itself is difficult. Then the propagated bougainvillea plant will not be exact copy of the potted plant. In comparison to this, the bougainvillea propagated from cutting and layering method will be exact clone of the parent plant.

Growing Bougainvilleas From Cuttings

Propagated Bougainvillea growing in a pot

Step 1: Soil – The Rooting Media

The rooting media should not be water retaining. To make the soil free-draining, I add river sand in the potting mix in equal amount. Take the rooting media in a small pot having several holes at its bottom for good drainage, and water well. Turn the soil and water again so that all parts of the soil is wet. Keep the pot aside. Do this 1 hour before you start propagation.

Step 2: Taking Bougainvillea Cuttings

When To Take Cuttings

Both semi-hardwood and hardwood cuttings can be used for bougainvillea propagation.
You can take semi-hardwood cutting in summer when the temperature is around 20°C (68°F).
Places where the temperature remains low, hardwood cuttings should be taken for propagation in winter.
The semi-hardwood stems are from the new growth that has begun to mature and starting to form bark on the stem.

Bougainvillea cuttings.
Right picture shows prepared cutting

Cut a 6-8 inch pencil thick length of stem from the parent plant just below a node (bumps on the wood) with a sharp knife or pruning shears. This will have 5-7 nodes where maximum natural plant growth hormones are present.

Step 3: Preparing Bougainvillea Cuttings

Remove all the bottom leaves and cut the upper leaves into half. Cut the bottom part at an angle and scrap lightly the lower 1 inch of the stem.
It is possible to root bougainvillea cuttings in water, but it will take a very long time, and the success rate will be low. The procedure given below will root bougainvillea cuttings successfully.

Step 4: Planting the Bougainvillea Cuttings

Planted bougainvilleacuttings enclosed in
a bag to contain moisture.

  1. Make a hole into the soil of the pot by inserting a pencil thick stick reaching down to half an inch from the base. Take out the stick.
  2. Put the lower part of the cutting into the rooting hormone (natural rooting hormone), shake off the extra powder. The rooting hormone will speed up the formation of roots. You can, however, propagate bougainvillea without rooting hormone, specially if the cuttings are not too hard, actually softwood cuttings do not need rooting hormone.
  3. Insert the cutting into the hole (don’t push) and firm it pressing the soil around it with your hand. You can similarly insert more cuttings. I generally put 4-5 cuttings in the same pot.
  5. Enclose the pot inside a Ziploc bag. I enclose it in a polythene bag and tie it at the top. You can also put a clear plastic glass or cut a 2 liter coke bottle at the bottom and put it on the pot.
  6. The bag makes a mini greenhouse that retains the moisture inside, keeping an ideal humid atmosphere. The picture on the left shows planted bougainvillea cuttings enclosed in a bag to contain moisture.
  7. Place the pot away from direct sun light, but in a strong indirect light.
  8. Watering is not needed as there are no roots yet. You will notice water droplets due to moisture inside the bag, they will fall again in the soil. So you will not need to water the pot for long time until the roots begin to form.
  9. Open the bag every 10-12 days and spray some water on the soil if it appears dry. Too much water will rot the cutting.
  10. The bougainvillea cuttings take seven to ten weeks to develop root. The new growth will emerge in 7-10 weeks depending on the temperature. In cooler places, application of bottom heat stimulates growth.
  11. When the leaves begin to appear, it indicates the rooting process is about to start.
  12. When 4-6 sets of leaves appear, look at the bottom of the pot, you will notice new roots there coming out of the holes.
  13. Take out the pot and let it remain in indirect sunlight for 2 weeks more. Now water the pot lightly daily.
  14. Move the pot in a place where it receives morning sun. keep it there for a week. Then shift the pot where it receives more light, say half day. After 1 week move the pot in full sun.

Step 5: Transplant Rooted Bougainvillea Cuttings

Tap the pot all along its sides to loosen the soil. Carefully invert the pot on your palm, keeping the cuttings in between your fingers and take out the cuttings. re-pot the cuttings in another pot or ground.

Bougainvillea Propagation by Layering Method

  1. Layering is another method for propagating bougainvilleas. Try layering when the plant is growing, in spring.
  2. Simply bend a growing stem down to the ground in the same pot or another pot. Injure (a minor cut) the stem near a node, about 6-10 inch from the end and bury the injured part in soil, keeping the end part out of soil. You may place a small stone there to keep the stem in soil.
  3. Keep on watering when the soil dries out.
  4. Check after 3-4 months to see if roots have developed. You can cut the stem from the parent bougainvillea plant and plant it in new place.

Video of Rooting Bougainvillea from Cuttings

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Rooting bougainvillea (and other plants)

Brenda Beust Smith photo

Reader Becky’s neighbor has a beautiful bougainvillea she wants to propagate. Can it be done?

Yes, they are easy to propagate. However, it will probably take a LONG time for your new plant to bloom. If you want immediate (relatively speaking) flowers, it’s best just to buy a new one. Most nurseries have them on sale now. Sales are so down because of the drought which, of course, well-established bougainvillea love.

To propagate, take a long cuttings, say 12-24 inches. Strip off all the leaves except the few at the very tip. STrip off any colorful bracts. Plant in loose soil and keep in a shady area. You can also start some in water if you like.

One method is to dig a trench and lay the stem down in the trench, covering up all but the tip end. Or, you can put it in a pot, curling the lower section around so all but the tip is covered with soil.

No matter what route you take, treat with a rooting hormone, either one you sprinkle on the cuttings or one you water in.

On soil cuttings, put a cleaned upturned mayonnaise jar overthe exposed tip. This creates a sort of greenhouse. You want a thin film of moisture on the jar inside. Drops mean too much water, let some evaporate out. A dry jar means you need to water.

It may take months to get good strong new growth on the tip. When you see that, you can transplant it into the yard, or set the pot out into the sun.

Good luck!

How to Propagate Bougainvillea From Seed

Bougainvillea is a plant that can, even if planted as the sole tropical, turn your backyard into a tropical paradise. Although it is a very easy plant to care for, and will tolerate a lot of neglect, it will require at least five hours of sunlight a day to keep it in bloom. Bougainvillea also enjoys high humidity prior to blooming. Growing bougainvillea from seed is very challenging, as it is most commonly propagated from cuttings. If you have the pod from a bougainvillea plant, it will take about 30 days for it to ripen. The bougainvillea plant is hardy to USDA Zones 10a to 11.

Pour equal parts of peat moss and perlite into the seeding tray. Water well and allow the water to drain from the bottom of the tray.

Plant the bougainvillea seeds 1/2 inch into the soil and cover them lightly with more soil.

Cover the top of the tray, loosely, with plastic wrap.

Place the tray on a heat mat set to 75 degrees F.

Check the soil frequently to make sure it stays moist. If you need to water, set the entire tray in a larger tray full of water. Allow the soil to soak up the water from the bottom, let it drain and then replace the plastic wrap and place the tray back on the heat mat.

How to Grow a Bougainvillea from Cuttings

In hanging baskets or containers, as a climbing vine, wall cover, or shaped into a tree, the bougainvillea is a popular favorite visible in nearly every city, town, or rural hamlet across the country. However, the showy blossoms that make this plant a crowd favorite only develop on new growth. Propagation by cuttings will allow you to keep an adequate supply of new plants to maintain the vibrant look you love, even in climates less favorable to this tropical plant.

Step 1 – Prepare Bougainvillea Cuttings

Cuttings for propagation should be five to nine nodes in length. Semi-ripe cuttings, sometimes called semi-hardwood, are the best choice for rooting, but in warmer climates, with nights usually above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to select softwood cuttings from new growth. If the nighttime temperatures are lower due to a colder climate, hardwood cuttings are a better choice. Remove the leaves and blossoms once you have selected your cutting. Your piece needs to devote itself fully to root development, so it cannot support much else in the mean time, including foliage.

Step 2 – Plant the Cuttings

Treat the end of your cutting with rooting hormone, and place it in a moistened growing media. A quality commercial potting soil, peat and perlite mixture, or other soil-less medium in a three-inch biodegradable pot will do. Bougainvilleas like a slightly acidic mixture with a pH of 5.5 to 6.0. They are quite intolerant of excessive moisture as well, so good drainage is essential.

Seal the potted cutting inside a Ziploc bag, and place this “mini-greenhouse” in a sunny location. The application of bottom heat, particularly in cooler climates, stimulates growth. The cutting needs at least a couple of hours of strong light daily, but avoid allowing it to become too hot. The bag will contain the moisture from planting, keeping an ideal humid atmosphere around the growing plant.

Tip: Bougainvilleas require at least five hours of direct sunlight a day for optimal blooming. Keep your plants outside as long as possible through the warm seasons, with southern exposure.

Step 3 – Transplant Rooted Bougainvillea Cuttings

Bougainvilleas are slow growing, so it takes six to 12 weeks for the roots to be well-established. At that time, carefully cut open the bottom of the pot. The roots of bougainvilleas are quite fragile. To avoid damaging them, replant the cutting—pot and all—into a slightly larger container. Resist the urge to transplant until the pot is too crowded for watering, as bougainvilleas produce more blooms when their roots are crowded.

Many growers advocate the application of a broad-spectrum fungicide when transplanting, as this helps avoid the risk of root rot. Try to minimize the shock to the young plant by keeping it in the same lighting conditions and temperatures it has known thus far. Water it at the first sign of wilt. Gradually harden off the plant, allowing it to adapt to the conditions near its final destination.

Step 4 – Maintain Your Young Bougainvilleas

Bougainvilleas require little to bloom and look their best. Shape the bougainvillea by pinching the tips of branches. This will not affect blooming, but will encourage the growth of new side shoots from buds below the pinch.

Use a water-soluble balanced fertilizer, 20-20-20, every other week during the growing season. During a mild winter, feed only once every four to six weeks. Do not feed a dormant plant until new growth appears, and do not over-fertilize. With a minimum of effort, the bougainvillea will become the focal point of the home or garden.

How to Grow Bougainvillea From Cuttings

bougainvillier en fleurs image by MONIQUE POUZET from

Bougainvillea is a tropical plant that should be treated as an annual in colder areas. The plant has tiny white flowers that are barely visible. What is easy to see are the brightly colored bracts around the flowers. Bracts are leaves that take on a different color from other leaves which remain green. Bougainvillea comes in red, bright pink, peach purple and white. This plant grows quickly. Propagating bougainvillea is not difficult and is best done in the spring.

Fill the pots with potting soil. Water until it drains out the drainage holes. Poke a pencil into the soil of the pot to make a hole 2-inches deep.

Open the rooting hormone and place a few tablespoons into a cup. How much depends on how many cuttings you plan on treating to root.

Cut a 4-inch stem of bougainvillea right below a leaf node. Remove any leaves from the bottom 2 inches of stem. Dip 2 inches of the end of the bougainvillea stem into the rooting hormone, making sure the tip is covered with hormone as well. Lightly tap the cutting so the excess falls away.

Place the cutting into the hole. Gently push the soil against the cutting.

Place all the pots or cups on a tray. Cover the tray with the garbage bag and arrange it around the pots and cuttings but not over the cuttings to block the sunlight. The bag retains warmth. Cuttings root more quickly if warm.

Place tray in bright light or sunlight. Cuttings should root between one and three weeks. Gently remove a cutting after 10 days to see if it has rooted. Keep the cuttings moist but not soggy. Don’t let them dry out.

Propagation Of Bougainvillea – Learn How To Propagate Bougainvillea Plants

Bougainvillea is a beautiful tropical perennial that is hardy in USDA zones 9b through 11. Bougainvillea can come as a bush, tree, or vine that produces large amounts of stunning flowers in a slew of colors. But how do you go about propagating bougainvillea seeds and cuttings? Keep reading to learn more about bougainvillea propagation methods, including growing bougainvillea from a cutting and seeds.

How to Propagate Bougainvillea Plants

Bougainvillea plants are commonly propagated by cuttings but seed growing is possible too.

Propagation of Bougainvillea Cuttings

The easiest of bougainvillea propagation methods is to grow it from cuttings. It can be done at any time of the year. To take a cutting from your bougainvillea, look for softwood. This is a part of the plant that isn’t brand new, but isn’t established and overly woody, either.

Cut a length of softwood that is 4 to 5 inches long and has 4 to 6 nodes on it. Nodes are the spots on the branch that either have sprouted smaller branches or contain buds that will sprout soon. If you want, you can dip the end of the cutting in root hormone.

Remove any leaves from the cutting and insert it upright in a mix of one part perlite and one part peat. Sink it one or two inches into the growing medium. Keep the pot very warm. Water and spray your cutting every now and again, but don’t let it get overly wet.

In a few months it should take root and start to grow into a new plant.

Propagating Bougainvillea Seeds

Propagating bougainvillea seeds is less common, but still a decent way to go about the propagation of bougainvillea. In the autumn, your bougainvillea might form seed pods inside the tiny white flower in its center.

Harvest and dry these pods – there should be very small seeds inside. You can plant your seeds at any time of year, as long as they’re kept warm. Be patient, as germination may take a month or longer.

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