HOW TAKE CUTTINGS FROM BOUGAINVILLEA




Bougainvillea species are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful flowering vines that money can buy. Keep them well fertilized, and not too much water, and these luscious green climbers will flower their socks off. However, Bougainvillea cultivars can be expensive to purchase, and while you may see exactly the colour form you need when driving around the neighbourhood, you cannot find it for love nor money in any of your local plant retailers.

Now there is a solution, and one that is fairly simple in execution. Take your own Bougainvillea cuttings and grow them on into viable plants. Just make sure you ask for permission first before taking cuttings from your neighbours plants as this can cause offence.

The best time to take Bougainvillea cuttings is in the spring, and while you can take cuttings at any time of the year, spring is when Bougainvilleas naturally start to produce the majority of their growth.

Using a sharp, sterilized blade, take 6 inch cuttings from below a healthy, non-flowering growing tip. Be aware that Bougainvillea can be difficult to propagate and not every cutting will form roots, therefore take more cutting material than you require. If it will be some time before the cuttings are going to be put into their compost mixture then wrap them in damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out, and also place into a closed, plastic bag.

When you are ready to commence, prepare the cuttings by remove all the leaves, except for four or five at top of the stem.

Prepare either 2 or 3 inch pot with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' although you may wish to mix in an extra 30% horticultural grit, perlite or vermiculite for improved drainage. Just use one pot for each cutting you want to propagate, although if you are short on pots you can get away with two cuttings per pot at most. Firm the soil down with your fingers to remove any large air pockets, and aim for a soil level about 1/4 inch below the rim of the pot.

Remove a prepared stem from the wet paper towel and dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone powder. It is important to tap the stem with your finger to remove any excess.

Form a hole in the soil with the blunt end of a pencil and insert the cut end of your Bougainvillea so that it is 1.5 inches below the soil level. Firm the soil around the cutting to help hold it upright. Gently water in the cuttings and once the excess has drained away put them in an old seed tray or a pan with sides. Now place the whole lot into a closed, heated propagator or inside a large plastic bag. Close off the the top of the bag to help retain humidity.

Move the cuttings to a warm, bright position, but out of direct sunlight, and try to maintain a soil temperature between 65° and 75° Fahrenheit. You may require a heat mat to achieve this or just set the thermostat if you are using the heated propagator.

Keep the compost on the moist side, but not waterlogged as this will prevent rooting. Try watering using a mister as this will also help to keep up the humidity

It can take up to three months before Bougainvilleas take root, but you can start checking the cuttings once you see new growth on the stems. Pull gently to test for root formation. If you feel a slight resistance, then the cuttings have rooted.

Once rooted, the cuttings can be removed from their bag or propagator. Remember to water, but again, make sure the compost does not become waterlogged. The Bougainvillea cuttings can be potted on to a larger pot once roots begin to emerge at the bottom of their existing pot and can planted up into their final position once they are a couple of feet in height.

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