How do I grow and propagate bougainvillea?


It is not easy to grow and successfully propagate bougainvillea in the home, but here is how it's done. 

Bougainvillea can be propagated by taking cuttings 6 inches long in spring. First dip the cut ends into hormone rooting powder, if you have it, and then insert them in a moistened mix of equal parts soil and perlite (most potting mixes contain perlite).  A propagation case* is best; keep it at 75°F in bright filtered light. Without a case, the cuttings may not take root. In the case, the roots form in about eight weeks.

Bougainvillea can grow to 6 feet in one season. At least a third of the season's growth should be cut away in early spring. At that time, over-long shoots should be spur-pruned (cut back to leave just 2-3 growth buds on each shoot). Usually bougainvillea loses leaves for a short period in winter.

Bougainvillea (paper flower) are vigorous subtropical woody plants armed with spines. Though normally bushy climbers outdoors in warm climates, can be trained to keep them bushy indoors. Some introduced dwarf-growing varieties remain bushy without special attention.

The plant has decorative papery bracts surrounding small cream-colored flowers produced in spring and summer. As a tropical plant, it grows best in sunrooms or conservatories.


* Greater control of the propagating environment is necessary for success with some plants that are more difficult to propagate. A propagation case or propagator is a portable closed environment to help ensure survival of propagated material when greenhouse conditions are necessary but not available. The environment restricts water loss, allows light penetration, permits proper drainage of seed trays and offers control over air and soil temperature.  Units vary but should include a glass or clear plastic fitted top, thermostat, heat cables, a light source if natural light is not available and ventilation control.

For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our libguides
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

  • Last Updated Mar 18, 2024
  • Views 57662
  • Answered By Plant Information

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