Propogating Bougainvillea

Sometimes called paper flower, bougainvillea is a showy vine used in many yards and in bonsai. Technically, the flowers on bougainvillea are really bracts and not true flowers. Propogating bougainvillea can be done in several ways. Whether you are going to use your vines in a hanging basket, on an arbor, or some other way, propogating bougainvillea will help you have more plants for more display.

When propogating bougainvillea, it's important to have an idea where you will use your new vines and plants. Do you have a trellis or wires in place for it to grow on? Or do you intend to prune it into the shape of a small tree? Bougainvillea is a plant that can be used in a number of ways for different looks in garden and yard decor.

Bougainvillea Cuttings

One typical way of propogating bougainvillea that provides good results is by root cuttings. If desired, you can get porous growing cubes as a growing medium. Oasis makes a product called "Horticubes" which work well for nurturing baby plants of bougainvillea. These are suitable for organic gardeners as well as more conventional gardeners, and do not have artificial fertilizers added to the growing medium.

When you're propogating bougainvillea and have new plants to pot up, you can use almost anything for a pot, but it is essential that the pot provides drainage. Also, your bougainvillea will bloom best if the roots are pot bound. It is a good idea to not repot it very often if you want it to bloom well.

The roots are very fragile. If they are damaged or needlessly disturbed, it can take weeks for your plant to recover. A gallon sized container can be used for several years. Bougainvillea can be placed in hanging baskets, but they must be pruned often.

Frost Protection

Another reason propogating bougainvillea is best done in containers is that the vine is not frost-hardy. Having it planted in pots makes it easier to bring the plant in out of the weather during the winter. It only takes a few hours of freezing temperatures to kill this delicate tropical plant. It will need to be pruned well before bringing it inside, and it will still lose it's bracts. Another alternative is to place it in a greenhouse during the winter where it will happily bloom until spring.

The main methods of propogating bougainvillea are by seed, cuttings, or layering. The cuttings can be of hardwood, or softwood. Another choice is to use leaf bud cuttings. Softwood works well in the late spring when the night temperatures have warmed up to 55 degrees F. or more. Tip cuttings do not work well for propagation.

Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings work better if you are propogating bougainvillea in the winter or any time the night temperatures are below 55 degrees. The cutting is placed into a soil cube as previously described, or into a small pot filled with a soil made of sand and peat. It needs to be kept very moist and in the shade. Place the whole thing in a plastic bag to keep the humidity high. Hardwood cuttings can take several months to sprout roots.

While it might seem normal to think of propogating bougainvillea by planting seeds, it is hard to find the perfect growing conditions for this tropical plant to actually produce seeds. In the rare event that you are able to get your to set seeds - if you live in Malaysia or somewhere similar - expect the seed pod to take about a month to ripen.

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