Epic Fail Bougainvillea Adventure, But Epic Plant Success.


This is an experiment in progress. The results won't be known for months. Updates are periodically posted at the end of the main article. Worst case scenario is a thorn mini-hedge below the front windows. Best case scenario is a full-blown bougainvillea hedge below the front windows. At the moment, the original plantings aren't looking too good; the questions are whether new leaves and blooms will eventually happen and/or do new plants start sprouting from the ground. Hopefully. someday the title of this page will be changed to How to Root and Plant Bougainvillea Cuttings from Trimmings.

Though this is a complete instruction manual, it is in the form of a diary. Also lots of interesting and helpful pictures have been thrown in.

The Beginning

Well, I'v got a bougainvillea bush that is over 20 feet long, over 10 feet wide, and over 10 feet high. The thing is preparing to launch an invasion onto my neighbor's property, so a major trimming project is in my immediate future. This time I decided why not take a bunch of the trimmings and plant them as cuttings in front of some of the windows? They would make an excellent burglar deterrent. I also decided to write an article about it, so as to help others. I'll continually update this article as the experiment progresses.

Below are two pictures of the bougainvillea where I am getting the trimmings to use as cuttings. The secret to trimming bougainvillea bushes is to attack the flank.

Side view as the bougainvillea  prepares to launch an invasion onto the neighbor's property at left.

Bougainvillea view from porch. Does wonders for blocking sun glare and providing privacy.

Below is a picture of where the cuttings will go in the hopes they take root. I will be trying a rather unique approach. This process will indeed be an unusual experiment and I have no idea what the results will be. Could be a resounding success or a resounding failure. This page will continually be updated as the adventure continues.


Looks like there is a hurricane headed my way. It will no doubt be downgraded before it arrives, but there could still be high winds. Best to postpone the plantings, but can still clear the rocks and dig the holes. The holes will only be about a foot deep.

Next day. The hurricane is now predicted to be a total miss, so I went ahead and planted one. I have very low expectations, so here's a pic while it still has leaves.

Planted June 13, 2018. The plant on the right.

As you can see, a rather unique approach was used. Basically, I trimmed a whole bunch of inter-tangled branches at once and called them cuttings. Plopped the whole, inter-tangled  bunch in a foot-deep hole and filled with dirt and lots of water.  Planning on doing the other one tomorrow.

Tomorrow it is and got the second planting done.

Planted June 14, 2018. The plant on the left.

The originally planned project is now done.

But along the way I got some other bright ideas. Since I have very low expectations as to the success of this project, why not throw in some horizontal cuttings? It really would be nice if the whole mess turned into a bougainvillea hedge crossing the entire front of the structure.

So next is scraping away all the little rocks from the back bricks and digging a somewhat shallow trench.

As a side note, this experiment already seems to have defied the laws of physics. It took more dirt to fill up the holes than there was dirt I took from the holes. How'd that happen?

Meanwhile, got the rock removal and trench digging preparation work done. Now it's just a matter of finding suitably large branches from the trimming project and shoving them into the dirt sideways with the leaves facing up.

Got all the horizontal branches planted. They very probably won't do any better that the vertical branches.

Meanwhile, got another bright idea that might actually work. Am poking much smaller, solid green branches amongst the larger branches in the very drenched dirt here, there, and everywhere.

Some of the solid green, smaller branches.

The Bougainvilleas With No Name - Will They Live or Will They Die?

It should be noted that all cuttings went into the prepared ground within less than five minutes of being trimmed and were immediately buried and drenched. There are several possible scenarios that might occur:
  • They happily live, thrive, and grow forever. This one is a long shot.
  • They die, a definite possibility.
  • The leaves die, but eventually grow back. This has happened before when it's been a particularly cold winter.
  • Some branches aka cuttings live and some branches aka cuttings die. This is basically because they are going to attack and feed off each other at the root level. The stronger trimmings will feed off the weaker trimmings; the results being that the strong survive and the weak die. Ever notice how nature is really big on that sort of thing?
  • Last, but not least; and I have actually seen this happen. All the leaves and flowers do indeed shrivel up and die and disappear. The branches look as dead as dead gets. But then a strange thing happens.New bougainvilleas begin to sprout from the ground. As they grow, they use the dead branches as a trellis.

Epic Fail or Epic Success?

So who knows what is going to happen? Obviously, this is going to be a long-term experiment. I'll probably be updating this page for years. For the record, the original plantings occurred in June 2018. Want to see what it looks like a month or two from now? Check back sometime in July and/or August. Stay tuned.

Update, January 2019
Epic fail for the Bougainvillea experiment All trimmings died; period. However, another plant showed up on the bare earth that looks nice; darned odd. I don't know what it is, but I would be fine with that plant propagating across the entire front area. So, we have an epic bougainvillea fail; but apparently not an epic experiment fail. We'll see how it goes. I've already removed more of the rocks and coverings to expose more bare earth. I'll work up the energy to take and post a pic of the whole thing in due course.

Update, June 2019
Epic success on the unknown, weird, new plant; two groups of them, several in front of each window and one of them is has actually grown taller than I am. Strange indeed. I wanted to take a picture of them and do the Google search match-up thing to find out what plant it is, but the blasted camera has temporarily stopped working. Stay tuned, sooner or later a picture will show up here.

[All images on this particular page are copyrighted and are not public domain.]

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