Help starting Bouginvilla's from clipping

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Nov 18, 2010
Gainesville, FL
I  have a big Boug. that i bought a year ago at Home Depot and its got some thick limbs on it that i'd like to try to plant other bushes from it, instead of buying.  i've done alot of reading on the internet and this doesn't seem like a hard process but i have failed 6 or 7 times.

Looking for advice.  Here are the 2 methods ive tried

All starting with branches are that "minimum of a pencil thick diameter" and shave the bottom 1" of the branch to expose the skin (this was the suggested method if found online).  I also clipped off thorns and sprouts growing off of it

Method 1

- take piece and stick it in a citrus potting soil mix in a 6" pot with Boug. fertilizer

- keep moist but well drained and not soaked


Method 2

- take piece and wrap bottom (shaved) part in a damp paper town

- place in ziplock and seal and put in indirect sunlight


any help would be great!

I have done it a couple ways with success.  1 - fully grown plant: hacked it off to a stump and brutally ripped the thorny barstage out of the ground. Set the now bare root stump in a bucket of water (covered most of the roots) and forgot about it.  2 weeks later and smelling so had started to produce leaves.  Now chuck it into the soil - well fertilizer for a while and watering to keep moist.  This has worked here in the islands, but we get lots of heat and sun.

The other way and it also worked - same scenario but put the not-so-stumped tree with roots into a hole, filled with water and dumped in dirt and staked.  Watered every other day and after looking dead for a month it started growing, 1 month later flowers!

Good luck - I have read they are fragile, they are hearty, be gentle, stick in the dirt and it will be fine.  The toss a stick in the dirt method seems to work 9 out of 10 times here
Take a hard wood cutting about the size of a pencil.

Remove all the leaves.

Cut 1/4" below a node on a 45 degree angle.

Lightly dip in Rootone ( rooting hormone )

Place in good potting soil.

Keep soil moist, but not wet.

It will take root in about 3 months.

Here's a great video showing you how.
before i was just cutting straight across, i'll try the angle!  also i didnt realize it takes up to 3 months...maybe i wasnt patient enough before
I had a nursery that propagated about 5000 Boughs a year from a giant mother plant with 90% success rate.

Make sure the mother plant is well watered for a couple of days prior to taking cuttings. Take cuttings on a cloudy day or early morning.

I used semi-soft wood---less than 1/2 the size of #3 pencil----Leave only the top 2 leaves on but cut them in half at a 45 degree angle from bottom to top

           The partial leaves supply nutrients for new root formation. Leave thorns on.

Place the cutting in a bucket with non chlorinated water and cut about 1/4 inch below a node at a 45 degree angle. (under water is very important)

Dip in rooting hormone and tap off excess--too much will inhibit root formation-you want a light dusting only

Fill an 8 oz styrofoam cup with Perlite about 3/4 full--punch several holes in bottom of cup with a pencil

Use a pencil to make a hole in the Perlite-do not use the cutting to do this--place cutting in hole and gently tamp Perlite around it.

Place cup in a shallow pan with about 1 inch of non-chlorinated water. No fertilizer in cup or pan!!!

In the nursery I had automatic misters that went off every 10 minutes for one minute but at home I placed cuttings in a filtered light area (about 50% light) -(East facing window best)

Improvise a loose plastic tent over the cuttings and run a cheap humidifier in it.

Roots formed in 3-6 weeks

These roots are fragile so transplant into 50-50 sand and Perlite very gently. Not directly into ground or potting soil

After new leaves start to form you can transplant into potting soil with very-very mild fertilizer--1/8 tsp Miracle Grow to gallon of non chlorinated water.

Too much rooting powder

Using old wood

Using new wood

Chlorinated water

Early fertilizer

Too much heat or light

Not making cut under water

All contribute to failure
Hey Doug,

I'm with diver on this one, I've seen clippings thrown on the burn pile, chickens scratch around them and they are moved over to the side and start growing, maybe you're trying to hard.  

Have a good day and I hope it works out for ya.

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