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How to Propagate Bougainvillea Plants

By Denise Nyland
Mature bougainvillea vines make showy and colorful garden features in tropical climates.

Bougainvillea is a genus of tropical woody flowering vines native to South America. The plant may be trained to climb over trellises or pergolas, or may be pruned to form a hedge or tree. Colorful bracts that surround tiny white flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, fuchsia, violet, magenta, dark red, orange and salmon. Bougainvilleas are easily propagated by rooting cuttings harvested from the mother plant. They may later be transplanted outdoors in tropical climates but also perform well as houseplants.

Prepare the potting mixture. Mix equal parts of nutrient-rich potting soil and sterile sand in a bucket. Stir in just enough water to moisten the mix without making it soggy. Fill plant pots to 1/2-inch from the top with the soil mix. Push the tip of a pencil about 2 inches deep into the soil mix.

Cut a 3- or 4-inch piece of the bougainvillea stem with a clean, sharp knife for rooting. The stem piece should include at least four leaf nodes. If the bougainvillea is being propagated in the spring or summer, the cutting should be taken from a distal soft stem but not include the tip or terminal leaves. To propagate the bougainvillea in the fall or winter, take the cutting from a viable hard stem. Remove all but the top leaf.

Scratch or otherwise slightly injure the bark on the bottom leaf node. Dip the bottom half of the stem into powdered rooting hormone, then place the stem in the hole in the potting soil. Water to thoroughly moisten the soil, and allow excess water to drain from the pot. Place the pot in a plastic bag and close with a twist tie. Place the pot in a place that does not receive direct sunshine. Water when the soil appears to be drying out. It usually takes two to three months for roots be seen through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. At that point, the bougainvillea may be transplanted.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Sharp, clean knife
  • 3-inch plant pots with drainage holes
  • Potting soil
  • Sterile sand
  • Powdered rooting hormone
  • Plastic bags
  • Twist ties

About the Author

 

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.