At Sunrise Villa in Thong Nai Pan Village, on the Thai Island of Koh Phangan, we love Bougainvillea plants. They grow as big as a house, love the sunshine, need little water (making them environmentally friendly) and are in flower all year round.
Rather than buy Bougainvillea, we make our own from cuttings from the mature plants in the grounds of Sunrise Villa. You will find lots of different ways of growing Bougainvillea from cuttings explained in books and on the internet. Most involve taking a cutting from a plant and putting it into a pot with soil or perhaps wood or coconut chippings. This method can work well with roots appearing after around 2 months. The downsides are the long wait, the need to water constantly and grow in the shade, and a fairly high failure rate.
If you follow our technique for growing cuttings you don’t need to water every day or worry about the shade, and you will achieve a high success rate, so long as you as the plants are kept in a sufficiently warm greenhouse or outdoors in a tropical climate.
What you need
Coconut husks in chip form or shredded
Small paint brush
Small plastic bags
Bucket of water
1. Soak coconut chip overnight in the bucket of water weighted down by a brick or stone.
2. Fill a bag for each cutting with the wet coconut chip.
3. Select the thicker brown branches of a mature plant. Look for areas with ‘nodes’, which are the parts of the plant most likely to form roots.
4. From these branches strip away an area of bark 10 cm in length right around the branch. Paint the exposed area under the bark with rooting agent.
5. Cut a hole in the plastic bag of chips vertically and wrap around the exposed area of branch so that the chips touch the exposed part of the branch.
6. Securely fasten the plastic bag to the branch with string.
7. Leave undisturbed for at least a month.
8. Cut the branch below the plastic bag and plant straight into the ground or pot after removing the plastic bag. Do not attempt to remove the coconut chip from the newly formed roots. Everything gets planted together.
9. Your cuttings will grow more quickly if you trim the top of cut branch to leave no more than a few leaves or leaf nodes above ground.
10. As with all new cuttings, water frequently until the plant appears to have taken and starts new growth.
This method has a high success rate as the roots are kept constantly moist. It is also much less hassle than taking a cutting, planting it and then watering several times a day. As you are growing new roots on a living bush you have a very high success rate.