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How to Start Bougainvillea Stems

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017

Bougainvillea plants work well for a shot of color in a sea of green foliage, to cover an unattractive fence, or to be used as a foundation planting. Versatility and beauty are the hallmark of this tropical, woody vine. Although bougainvillea are hardy only to USDA zones 9b and 10, they can be container-grown in cooler climates as long as they receive protection from frost. Plant your bougainvillea in fertile soil in an area that receives sunshine all day. Take your bougainvillea stem cutting in June, and it should have roots by August.

Fill the planting pot with equal parts of sand and sphagnum peat moss. Water the soil well, and allow the water to drain from the bottom of the pot.

Cut a 6- to 8-inch piece of bougainvillea stem by using pruning shears. Look for one that has grown this season that is beginning to grow some wood on it. This is known as a semi-ripe cutting.

Remove all leaves but a few on the top of the stem. Dip the cut end of the stem into the rooting hormone. Tap it on the side of the bottle or jar to remove any excess.

Poke a hole in the soil with your finger or a pencil, and insert the hormone-tipped end of the stem into the soil about 2 inches deep. Pack the soil around it.

Place the pot in a plastic bag, seal it and place it in a warm, shady area. The temperature should remain above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the soil daily to make sure that it remains moist, but not wet.

Transplant the bougainvillea stem when it has rooted. You will know this has occurred when you see new growth. Be gentle with the new roots as they are sensitive to being disturbed.


Things You Will Need

  • Planting pot
  • Sand
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Pruning shears
  • Rooting hormone
  • Plastic zipper bag


  • Fertilize the bougainvillea weekly while it is in bloom, with a 20-20-20 fertilizer. From fall to spring, fertilize every four weeks.

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.