My Kitchen Garden

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 bougainvillea 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!

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The bougainvillea plant can be propagated from seeds, stem cuttings and by layering. The propagation of bougainvillea from seeds is difficult as compared to grow 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 will be exact clone of the parent plant.


Growing Bougainvilleas From Cuttings


Picture of Propagated Bougainvillea by cutting
Propagated Bougainvillea growing in a pot

Step 1: 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 dthat 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 aound 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 cutting.preparation
Bougainvillea cutting.
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.

Step 4: Planting the Bougainvillea Cuttings

Planted bougainvillea cuttings enclosed in a bag to contain moisture.
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 seed 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.
  4. DO NOT WATER AGAIN.
  5. Enclose the pot inside a Ziploc bag. I enclose it in a polythyne 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 cuttings will grow new roots and leaves in 6-10 weeks, new growth will emerge 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 Cutting





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