Transplanting mature bougainvillea

LantanaLove(9 - Riverside, CA)April 24, 2014

I've been working on a curbside gardening project this week and now that the prep work is ready, it's time to plant! I'm trying to do this on a budget so I've decided to transplant one or two bougainvilleas from the backyard into this new space. It's clay soil, full sun and will be surrounded by other drought tolerant plants.
My husband began the process of digging one out and it's more of a chore than I assumed. I'm not sure how long they have been in the ground but they were at least 8 feet tall when we moved in and we hard pruned them down to 6" to open up the space for a vegetable garden. The new growth is about 8" tall. The roots are really deep and super thick! I've heard their roots are really sensitive but since they're so thick I was thinking they could survive some hacking. He's cut through the thickest ones and it just needs to be lifted out.
Does anyone think it will survive the root cutting since it has very little top growth to support?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

probably not... maybe.. who knows .... but i presume it is in active growth phase.. with lots of new growth that needs a lot of water ... it can be done.. but it going to be an aftercare nightmare ...

one alternative.. is to cut it way down.. and that way.. give the roots time to establish.. before it rebuds and gets going ...

but to be sure.. i dont have any experience with this particular plant ... so lets see if that can be done with this plant ...

if i were doing this... is would learn about propagation of such.. and propagate a few.. for FALL PLANTING ... if possible ... just because you make a space.. doesnt mean if has to be filled immediately .;.. you might grow some annual.. morning glory??.. in the spot.. until fall??? just an option ...

in the alternative.. hubby might be learning.. that one doesnt work this hard on moving what might be bought for $10 .. lol .. took me decades to learn that lesson ...

i am sure.. this isnt some rare hybrid.. one of a kind plant..

and i do fully understand budget... but again ... i would NOT do 8 hours of backbreaking work.. for $10??? ...

good luck


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

When you are cutting through thick roots a plant is less likely to survive, not more. And since, as you know this kind is supposed to be touchy I would expect re-planting it would probably be a waste of time.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Many bonsai folk transplant bougainvilleas with success and turn the stumps into bonsai. Maybe ask this over on the bonsai to how they have success. (Just a thought) I know over on we actually have a man named Sam who has had success with many pottings of old bougainvillea stumps turning them into bonsai. He would be able to give tons of advice...maybe pop over there and ask him.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 5:14PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Then it must not be so hard to move after-all.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 6:31PM
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LantanaLove(9 - Riverside, CA)

I managed to get it out of the ground myself after my post. I cut two more thick roots and it was ready to go. I put it in its new hole and the small amount of regrowth that was on there got very sad and flopped over almost immediately.
We ended up getting a quarter inch of rain that night and by the next morning the branches were reaching up toward the sunlight as if nothing had ever happened.
I pinched it back yesterday to encourage it to stay compact and bushy. We'll see what happens.
I've attached a picture of what it looked like right before I moved it so everyone can marvel at the hack job I did ;)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 7:08PM
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I know those who turn them into bonsai put them into a grow box...slowly reducing the roots. But I have total faith that this will indeed be a successful transplant.

The bonsai enthusiast drools at the base of that trunk...totally can see it as a beautiful tree. You should google bougainvillea bonsai. There are some pretty spectacular trees out there! So you should not have trouble with keeping this contained. Pinch and grow method is used by many.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 8:40PM
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