How to propagate bougainvillea: 12 steps (with pictures)

How to propagate bougainvillea: 12 steps (with pictures)
How to propagate bougainvillea: 12 steps (with pictures)

All it takes is one plant to grow vigorous bougainvillea in your garden to beautify it with vibrant blooms. The process involves taking a 15 to 20 cm cutting from an existing plant, coating one end with a cutting hormone, and planting it in a shallow container filled with suitable potting soil. After watering for the first time, cover the cutting with a plastic bag and place it in a dark and cool place. With minimal care, the cutting will develop into a beautiful plant within 3 to 6 months.


Part 1 of 3: Take a cutting from an existing plant

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 1

Step 1. Use sharp pruning shears

You will use it to bevel the lower part of the branch. The branch should be healthy without showing signs of disease or infestation. By pruning the branch at an angle, you will increase the contact surface to allow it to make the most of the moisture and nutrients contained in the potting soil.

  • When making the cut, be sure to wear gardening gloves and protect your eyes.
  • Choose a semi-mature or well-formed branch to take the cutting rather than a young branch that is still green.
  • The best time to take the cutting is from late spring to mid-summer, when growth is rapid and sustained.
  • Often it is difficult to grow a bougainvillea. Therefore, have a certain number of cuttings to increase your chances of success. You can cut off a third of the branches without harm to the mother plant.
  • Sanitize your garden tools with denatured alcohol before using them.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 2

Step 2. Detach the leaves from the stem

The latter is the only part that will take root successfully. So take a vigorous stem, and rid it of its leaves, flowers and small ramifications. Cut off the parts that are still green, as they will not resist when the cutting is planted.

  • About 50% of the leaves should be removed from the stem. Thus, all the vigor of the cutting will be used to form new roots.
  • If you are not going to plant your cuttings immediately, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and store them in the refrigerator in an airtight plastic bag. This way, they will keep for 1 to 2 weeks.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 3

Step 3. Immerse the end of the stem in a cutting hormone

Wet the lower end, then push it into a jar containing powdered cutting hormone. Check that the end of the rod is covered with an even layer of powder, without any crusts or lumps. To remove excess powder, gently tap the rod with the tip of your finger.

  • The cuttings hormone is sold in garden centers and nurseries. This product is also known as a "root stimulant".
  • You can also make your own hormone. Just combine apple cider vinegar, honey, cinnamon or crushed aspirin.

Part 2 of 3: plant the cutting

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 4

Step 1. Fill a small pot with good potting soil

For best results, purchase a suitable growing medium for seeds and cuttings. You can also prepare a mixture of potting soil, sand and organic garden compost. Leave a free space of 65 cm for the irrigation water.

  • When using a potting soil delivered in a bundle, consider adding a ⅓ of perlite, vermiculite or horticultural gravel to promote drainage.
  • You will take care of your bougainvillea in this pot until it takes root. So a depth of 5-10cm should suffice.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 5

Step 2. Bury the cutting in the pot

Push it to a depth of 4 to 5 cm in the potting soil to secure it. If the growing medium is compact, be careful not to damage the cutting. In this case, it is better to dig a narrow hole using a pencil or similar object.

  • If you give the stem a slight incline, it will be easier for the knots to give roots.
  • Only place one cutting per pot so that it has enough room. In addition, she will not be hampered by another plant to grow.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 6

Step 3. Water the newly planted cutting well

Pour in enough water to moisten the soil without soaking it, and allow the cutting to rest after watering. The right amount of water will help it form new roots.

Be careful not to overwater the bougainvillea. Too much moisture can slow rooting and lead to more serious complications such as rot or fungal disease

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 7

Step 4. Place a plastic bag over the cutting

It will produce a miniature greenhouse effect and retain moisture. So after a few weeks, the abundant moisture will help the plant to grow on its own. After placing the sachet, put the pot in a shaded area inside your home, away from heat and direct sunlight.

  • Close the bag tightly with a zipper or an elastic band. Otherwise, just wrap the whole jar and secure the lower part of the bag.
  • You can also use a bell or a window frame if you have one.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 8

Step 5. Watch the cutting

Expect it to start growing after 6 to 10 weeks. You will know it has taken root when small green leaves appear along the stem. Meanwhile, leave the bag in place and do not touch the rod. Otherwise, you will prevent it from forming roots.

In the majority of cases, it is better to wait for numerous branches to appear along the stem than to transplant the plant prematurely

Part 3 of 3: prepare for the transplant

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 9

Step 1. Wait until 4-6 leaves appear

Thus, root formation will continue and the process can take 3 to 6 months, depending on the condition of the cutting and the composition of the soil. When the stem forms leaves, you can transplant it to your garden or to a container.

You will not need to water the plant as you would another, as the root system is not yet complete

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 10

Step 2. Gradually expose the rooted plant to the sun

The majority of experienced gardeners recommend that the "hardening" phase lasts at least 2 weeks. Simply move the plant to a more sunny location every 5-7 days. This slow acclimatization process will help them adapt to their new environment and increase their chances of survival.

Brutal exposure to the sun could destroy your bougainvillea, especially if this exposure is premature. Be careful, because you might end up with nothing

Propagate Bougainvillea Step 11

Step 3. Keep the plant at a temperature between 18 and 24 ° C

During this time, you should limit your exposure when it is particularly cold or hot. It is recommended to place it in a sheltered place during the heat of the afternoon and in the evening after sunset.

  • Young cuttings may also not be able to withstand sudden fluctuations in temperature, even if the variations are relatively small.
  • Like you, bougainvillea prefers a comfortable temperature. For this reason, it will look great in your home.
Propagate Bougainvillea Step 12

Step 4. Transplant the cutting to its new medium

Lightly tap the roots to release any stuck-on soil. Carefully turn the pot over onto your palm, holding the plant securely with the fingers of the other hand. Bougainvillea is now ready to be planted in a container or flower bed to continue its growth.

  • Plant your bougainvillea in the spring or summer to give it time to grow stronger before winter.
  • The container or ground should be twice the size of the root system to give the plant enough room to grow easily.
  • When the bougainvillea is well established, its roots should not be disturbed so as not to destroy it. Therefore, do not try to transplant a shrub a second time during its growth phase, but make the effort to buy a new one.


  • Have several cuttings, if possible. This will allow you to try again if your previous attempts have failed.
  • Bougainvillea is an extremely hardy plant that requires little care. Its cultivation is successful in virtually all homes and gardens.
  • If the plant grows properly, the roots can give rise to numerous shoots that will take over the entire grow space, and possibly extend further. You can transplant the additional plants around your house or gift them to friends or family.

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