A well-behaved vine that climbs gracefully up a fence or arbor, bougainvilla (Bougainvillea spp.) produces huge, papery flowers that reach their peak in midsummer. The plant often continues to bloom through fall and sometimes into winter. With a small trellis for support, bougainvillea is at home in a patio container. Bougainvillea, which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b through 11, roots easily by planting stem cuttings in summer.
1 Cut several 2 1/2- to 4-inch stems from an actively growing bougainvillea, using pruners or a sharp knife. The stems should be soft and pliable but firm enough to break with a snap. Remove the leaves from the lower one-half of the stem, leaving only one or two leaves at the top.
2 Fill a plastic celled planting tray with a well-draining potting mixture, such as half peat and half perlite. Water the mixture until it is evenly moist but not dripping.
3 Make a hole in the center of each cell with your finger. Dip the end of each cutting in gel or powdered rooting hormone, then place the cuttings in the holes just deep enough to stand upright with the leaves just above, but not touching the potting mixture. Water lightly to settle the mixture around the stems.
4 Cover the tray with clear plastic wrap. This helps prevent moisture loss. Place the tray in indirect light. Normal room temperatures are fine for rooting.
5 Remove each stem cutting from its cell when new grow appears, indicating the cuttings have rooted -- usually in five to 10 weeks. Plant the cuttings outdoors the following spring. Alternatively, transplant the new bougainvillea plants into 1-gallon containers and allow them to mature for another year before moving them to their permanent spots.
Items you will need
- Pruners or sharp knife
- Celled planting tray
- Well-draining potting mixture
- Gel or powdered rooting hormone
- Clear plastic wrap
- 1-gallon containers
- Wear gloves when working with bougainvillea to prevent the thorns from scratching your hands.
- The New Sunset Western Garden Book; Kathleen Norris Brenzel, Editor
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Bougainvillea Spp.
- The American Horticultural Society, Plant Propagation; Alan Toogood, Editor
- North Carolina State University Extension: Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images