Propagating Bougainvillea – Two Months Later

It may sound strange to you if you live in an area where the temperatures are closer to freezing, or below, instead of being a Beach Day in the middle of December, but I did manage to catch the season right for planting.

In October.

When I went to propagate the Bougainvillea, it was because the vines were being eaten away by Subterranean Termites.

We get those termites here in South Florida, and protecting things here requires creating a toxic soup barrier around your house.

I expect that the Bougainvillea arbor that is the “mother plant” is just outside of the Toxic Soup Zone.

These vines are as thick as my thighs in some places, and I have very large thighs as I am an inline skater who considers a 2200 calorie workout “light”.  But these vines were also eaten to the point where I may lose the plant in a year or so.

They wobble freely on their roots.

I trimmed off random sections of the older growth to start new plants.

Half of them began putting out tiny leaves, the others sat there looking like dead sticks.

Since this is my life, weirdness ensued.

The ones with the tiny leaves either died or went dormant.   I will leave these alone in my highly watered propagation pots.

However the ones with no growth on them began to sprout leaves and some are already blooming.  On a two month old cutting.  In a pot.

I find it strange too.

My expected date of planting is the first day of Spring, March 21.  It is currently (looks at my watch) December 10th.

So I have more time to grow.

The Sticks not withstanding, are fine.  The ones that have gone “dormant” or have died will have until March to make up their flowery mind whether to live or to be turned into mulch.

In the interim I have high hopes for some cuttings that I made from the mother plants that were new growth.   Yes, in December, these things are putting out new shoots.

They are in the “nursery pots” and are not drying up like some of the other cuttings have been, so who knows.

I’m also nursing 55 Rosemary cuttings and none of them have decided to curl up and die yet.  We will be using them for ground cover.  Ground cover you can use to make a pizza or spaghetti sauce.

March, being three months away, gives me time to obsess and wait to see what survives.

 

All that Rosemary came from what a good friend of mine in Atlanta described as “One of those sad little xmas trees that they try to guilt you into buying at the supermarket”.

 

I’ve been told that I truly need to stop doing this though.  I’m seriously running out of space.  Just this morning, I snipped what I thought was a twig.  Finger thickness branch was cut off the salmon bougainvillea.

 

By the time I got that “twig” to the ground, it had pulled off two other “twigs” with it and was over six feet long.  Two meters of nasty bitey thorn filled branches.

If I get any spare bougainvillea I’ll let people know.  FOB My Front Porch.  I never have any luck giving anything away but I will make the offers.

That Gardening Bug.  I guess really it is “Landscaping” because I’m rapidly approaching an industrial scale.  It gets under your skin and makes you feel like you’re doing something productive.

Guess what?  You are.

 

Propagating Bougainvillea is Easy

The first time I propagated bougainvillea, i used what my family “on the farm” would call “Involuntary Propagation”.

There was a pot with a little pine bark mulch in the bottom, and a little soil.  It sat under the bougainvillea arbor that I have behind the house.  I came through one day and trimmed it back and a small bit fell in the pot.

I didn’t see or ignored the clipping instead of throwing it out.

Months later when I went to use the pot, I pulled the clipping out and it had begun to grow roots.

Bougainvillea is an amazing looking plant but it has thorns all over it.  Whenever I work with it, I end up having arms that look like I was trying to give a pill to a cat.  Shredded.

But it is one of the reasons why I bought the house.  Standing at the front window, you can see through the house to the arbor in the back, and when it is in bloom, it is a wall of flowers.

It also has a very thin bark that scratches off with a thumbnail to show a little green underneath.

Many plants down here are like that, and it is pretty easy to find a plant that I can propagate easily with better than 50% success.

With the bougainvillea, you will want to find a piece with green growth at the end and some leaf buds on it.

Cut the stem, and trim it to a 45 degree angle to make it easier to stick in the soil.

Treat the cut end generously with rooting hormone.

Push the stem into wet soil deep enough to allow the cutting to stand more or less upright.  Larger stems will need more support and will need to go deeper.

Once in soil, water generously until it is obvious that you have new growth and roots developing.  It can be as long as 3 to 6 months before the new plant can go into the ground, so be patient.

In one case I have seen new growth in about two weeks once all the old leaves had fallen to the ground.

Finally, the plant does not seem to care whether it is getting started in a pot or directly in the ground.  I have cuttings starting in both the soil and in pots on my irrigation lines.

Cut Leaf Philodendron In Bloom

There is a certain finesse that you need to garden here in South Florida.

I’m not sure exactly what that finesse is.

After we hacked back the undergrowth in the yard, cut the 30 foot tall Sea Grape tree to 20 foot sticks, lopped the head off of the Podocarpus and bougainvilleas, we held our breaths.

After a bit things came back with a vengeance.

Now the Podocarpus have brilliant chartreuse growths on them.  The Bougainvilleas are growing new pointy bits and putting out shocks of magenta blooms.  The palm trees have been sending out more of those seed pods we have to cut off or else the seeds get stuck in the pool filter.

And then this happened.

The flower is actually about 2 feet tall.  Call it 60 CM.  A massive thing that looks like a lily came popping up in the middle of a green firework of leaves back in the back of the yard.  It has a trunk on it that is easily as thick as your forearm and as long as you are.  We keep pushing it back in place but it insists on growing out toward the pool where the light is.

I found it when I was looking for a place to do some strategic planting.  My dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) insists on privacy.  I know, a dog that demands privacy to do His Business is a bit out of the ordinary.  What he does is run around looking for a spot but if he sees anyone nearby, he will move away to where you can’t see him in order to squat.

If he can’t see you, you aren’t there.

Since he found that the gap between the fences and the hedges is Dog Friendly, I have been putting plants in there.  My pot of Ruellia and the other one of Hibiscus had matured and it was time to put them back into the ground to start over.  Ruellia takes about 2 months to go from droopy sad cuttings to a root bound mass that is looking to be planted.  The Hibiscus takes more water and more time but it was just about as root bound as you could get.

Both of those went into the ground near Rack’s Private Room.  Blocked off one of the entries with dark green leaves and little purple flowers.  The Ruellia didn’t even notice that it had been pulled up and dropped unceremoniously on the top of the ground in front of the Hibiscus.

Where the finesse comes in was that I found a little emerald jewel there.  Apparently there was a Monarch that had decided to put a chrysalis there on or near the lone Milkweed that took in that crowded pot.

I placed it somewhere safe, in the crook of some other plants where it will grow unmolested.

But that is why it takes finesse to garden here.  You never know what you will disturb.

Peeping Ringneck Dove

In South Florida, I have often said, we live closer to wildlife than I did in Philadelphia.

That isn’t to say we didn’t have wildlife in Philadelphia, and I don’t mean the two legged variety.  I once had a deer in my backyard, roughly a solid mile from the park, but that is another story entirely.

Behind my house is an arbor.  It’s made of some large poles and holds up the bougainvillea and the Spanish Moss that grows there.  That is to say there is a massive bougainvillea that forms a privacy curtain along the back window of the Florida room, and you can’t get through it because you would be shredded by the thorns that grow on the plant.

Bougainvillea are beautiful, but nasty plants.  Every time I work with the plant I get stuck by those blasted thorns.

Every.
Single.
Time.

Wrap yourself in Kevlar Body Armor and it won’t matter.   You will get stuck.

I suppose that is the attraction of the bloody stuff.  Literally bloody, that is.  The thorns create a micro-climate safe from things that might “Getcha”.

Every so often I look out the window and I see things looking back at me.

My frog hotel is at the top of the window.  Two little boxes, an inch deep, two long, 4 wide.  Just big enough for a frog to smack against the glass and hide for the daytime until it is time to go out at night and hunt for insects.

Tasty, tasty insects.   Mmmmm.

I’ve seen a four foot long green iguana looking back at me with a mouthfull of bougainvillea leaves.  I wouldn’t mind but those nasty iguanas don’t share.  I stood up to get a better view and off it ran into the neighbor’s yard.

Evil things.

This was more benign.  A Rock Dove.  Perhaps you call them Ringneck Doves.  I go between the names.  They’re quite common, quite harmless.   I simply did not expect to see the thing looking at me and watching me as I go through my normal daily routine.

So why not… I got a couple pictures of it.  Then it got frightened due to my attention and flew off into the window.

They’re not bright.  Birdbrained might be a better description.

They’re all over the area here.  Might be the teenagers of the avian world with their call of “Meh” whenever you hear them.  Harmless creatures, whatever they eat they’re welcome to since I know they don’t destroy my plants.

One of them a while back made a friend in my parrot, Oscar.  It would fly over to the cage when I had Oscar in the Florida Room near the window.  I would hear Oscar talking to the bird, saying Hello! to it, trying to convince it to talk back, and the Dove true to form would just say “Meh” back.

I am guessing that this could be some sort of revisited curiosity, although it might be misdirected.  Oscar got moved back into the core of the house to keep him comfortable when the weather changed from warm to cold, or vice versa.  I can’t really remember which.  I don’t have that large a house, so he squats in the middle of it making rude noises at us and glowers while that peeping dove tries to get his attention.

I should move him back out there, but I’m lazy.

Dragonfly on Bougainvillea Picture

There’s something about a rainy week that brings out something new here.

First the new mosquitoes.  Hide inside for a day or two at dusk and sunrise or you’ll end up feeding your very own flock of pets.  Trust me on that one.

Then two days or three perhaps, later, they arrive.  Gliding on the breezes, hovering over land and suddenly veering off to a random direction and gone.  Other times they’ll swoop over any body of water for a drink.  The only way you know they got there is the series of small rings that show on the surface from their impact.

Dragonflies can be quite large, but this one wasn’t.  It was basking in the golden hour, about an hour or two after sunrise, collecting its insect thoughts, perhaps pondering where would it find its next meal of tasty mosquitoes.

Tasty because they’re fed by me, that is.

But breakfast hadn’t shown its head either.  The air was clear of them, or so I thought.  My own hide not having been pierced yet, nor have I been considered a landing strip of the nasties.

This particular little jewel simply perched on a denuded branch that I created by going after the long vines of the bougainvillea hedge behind the Florida room.  Dragonflies will do that.  Instead of perching somewhere that you would expect them to on a more sturdy part of a plant, they’ll edge out to the very tip and stand there looking serene and beautiful.

It also didn’t seem to care that I was looking at it.   I was able to go back inside the house, having forgotten the rule of always bring your camera, and get a series of about 10 pictures.

All the while smiling at its beauty.

I Hear You’re Having Another Snowstorm

My cousin posting a picture of bougainvilleas on Facebook got me thinking. 

No, it’s not another rant about how bad the weather is up North.  This would be the week I traditionally would take vacation.   I would haul my bulk into the Jeep, get out of Philly for a week to 10 days, and thaw out.

Literally.  By this time of year, I’d have a nagging “winter cold” that was my body telling me with a stopped up nose, that I was not designed for standing on an elevated train platform in 15F temperatures day after day waiting for the R7 to roll.

The second week of February is the coldest one of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ok, so it’s plus or minus seven days either way of February 7th. 

It’s been warm this winter though.  We got our two weeks of “cold” already, and I am hoping it happens again.  It helps reset the environment here and gets rid of those ex-pets that snowbirds abandoned thinking they’ll do alright outside.

Lets just call them “Invasive Species”.

My weather applet says it will be 83 today, my pool water is at 70 and holding.

My concern is that the pool should be down into the high 50s by now.  It’s not heated and the deep end is still way too cold for my tastes.

Since we’re also three months from the great stock up month of May, and four months from Hurricane season, I’m thinking that it’s a bit warm for this time of year.

I’ll take a cool February.  It usually means that hurricane season will be weak.

We are overdue for another near miss.

I’m still getting rid of the last of the bottled water and Mac and Cheese from last year.  There’s still canned ravioli on the Kitchen table that got co-opted as a pantry.

So believe it or not, while I despise cold weather, I’d welcome some of it now.

In the meantime, go have a swim.  The water’s a little cool for us down here but you’ll think it’s fine!

Bougainvillea Blossoms

These are the flowers that sold the house.

I also have a love-hate relationship with them.

Bougainvilleas.  Beautiful to look at, painful to maintain.

They have these spikes, that can be up to two inches long.  The spikes will scratch you even if you are nowhere near them.   I swear this plant will reach out and grab you and leave scratch lines on your skin.

Just watch out.

But they are also on a trellis behind the house.  It is the entire length of the Florida room as well as its height.  Say 10 by 20 feet.  If you look in the front window through the living room, you see these red, fushcia, and pink blossoms glowing at you from a distance hovering over part of the swimming pool.

Then you get closer and they bite your arms.

They don’t bite Rack though.  My dog is able to walk under the plant and come out unscathed.  There’s a path of cement squares under the arbor that he uses as a garden path.  They’re where they are so the rain doesn’t scour a gulley under my eaves.  He’s small enough that he’s enveloped in a world of cool shade, hot pink flowers, and a general feeling of warmth.  Or so I imagine as I see he’s taken to wandering under the thing when he’s outside in the sun.

In this climate they’re also fairly fast growing so I’m usually armed with a pair of clippers when I am out back.   I have to assume I could make a red or pink dye out of the flowers that float on the breeze.  One day after stepping on a spine from that evil plant, I put my shoes back on.  I rarely go barefoot out back as a result.  Later that night I got ready for bed and noticed that my white socks now had a pink blob on the bottom of them.  On my foot where the blob was was a flattened remnant of one of those pink flowers.   The pink did eventually wash out of my sock but it wasn’t after a couple washings.

Oh well, nobody ever looks at the bottom of my socks but me.

I thought you might want a little beauty, as well as a story.   So have a bougainvillea flower but watch for the thorns.