Can't Get my Bougainvillea Cuttings to Grow- I am desperate

felinefrenzy(4)September 1, 2012


I am currently living in South Africa where bougainvilleas are big and beautiful outdoors. I am desperately trying to grow some plants from cuttings (from a wild plant) due to sentimental reasons before I move back to the US.

I have killed over 30 cuttings even though I've spent hours online researching how to propagate bougainvilleas from cuttings.

My usual 'method' is to take a cutting that's roughly 6-8" long, roughly 1/8" inch thick, cut off all but the top 2-3 leaves, pot in a well draining mix, scrape the bottom of the cutting, swipe in rooting hormone, plant in a small pot with holes in the bottom.

I then put the plant and cutting into a zip top bag. I spritz water in the bag and on the soil until slightly moist.

I 'water' them this way about every other day. I open the bags at night to let oxygen in. I close them up and put them in the sun (inside) during the day. Overnight they are on a heated floor (we just got past the winter).

I have had 1-3 small 'successes' (small leaves open up) but then the leaves turn brown and die, never to bloom again. I know almost nothing about plants and flowers in general so I may not even use proper gardening terms.

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I couldn't find a bougainvillea specific forum on here but moderators, please feel free to move this post if it's in the wrong forum. Thanks

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 3:26PM
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We can not grow Bougainvillea here, too cold, but I have never had any luck with woody cuttings as small as you are using. Can you get cuttings at least as large as a pencil? Al

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:01AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

"Creative Propagation" says, semi-mature, over bottom heat with mist. Mature, over bottom heat. And layering if you have access to the plant. Sometimes the time of year has a big impact on cutting success as well.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 11:16AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

if you are truly desperate..

what i would do.. is find a bougain nursery state side..

send them pix of the plant you have.. so they can ID it..

and then buy it when you get back ...

that answer above.. basically suggests.. that the common home owner.. short of some very professional equipment.. and a greenhouse ... simply isnt going to do it very easily ...

though you may not capture the precise memory.. you can at least create an equivalent ... AND!!! .. not have to worry about how to get it thru customs ...


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Hi everyone- thanks for the help and suggestions! I have a few cuttings at my parent's house stateside that looked totally dead. They haven't done anything in the last 2 months. I took a tiny blade to make a small slice in the bark (I read somewhere that if it's still green under the bark it's still alive) and sure enough, a few are still alive! I'm not sure that means they'll stay alive, especially since I cut into their bark. :(

I am not quite sure how to tell when parts of the mother plant are semi-mature but I think I did come across that once in my searching. I am going to take a few more cuttings (if there are only good ones left!) in about a month so fingers crossed, I can make them grow. If not, I think I'm taking Ken's advice and buying some stateside.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:11AM
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I found that also how come there is no Bougainvillea forum in Garden Web? I just happened to come to Mid- Atlantic cause that is where I live by accident and found it here...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:42PM
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