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How to Propagate Bamboo in Water

How to propagate bamboo in water - seeds, culms and rhizomes cuttings

Water is an important natural growth enhancer for propagating bamboo rhizomes, culm cuttings and seeds. Take a look at how to can propagate bamboo in water before growing them.

You will need the tools listed in the table

Hand tools/Uses


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Wrecking bar: Provides leverage for removing tough rhizomes, roots or blocks.

DIY Hand Tools at B&Q online

Pickaxe: Dismantles rhizomes and clumps.

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Handsaw/Loppers: Cuts culms to propagate.

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Sharp garden spade: Digs/cuts small rhizomes and roots, clears dirt.

Pedigree spade is ideal for narrow spaces.


Garden rake/hoe: Clears soil and dirt around the work area.

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Pair of secateurs/garden loppers: Cuts large rhizomes and culms.

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1. How to propagate bamboo in water

Step 1: Cut the new growth (bamboo shoots and rhizomes tips) at a 45-degree angle with a sharp knife or a pair of secateurs.

Allow for two nodes and two internodes. Be careful not to move the new shoots too hard because they are tender and can break easily.

Step 2: Seal the ends of cuttings with grafting wax or melted candle wax to prevent the cuts from rotting.

Step 3: Place the cuttings in a pot of distilled water (or rainwater) and leave it in a well-lit site until new roots appear. Change the water every other day.

Do not use chlorinated water. As soon as the roots grow longer, move them to plastic pots or containers.

Step 4: Lay the bottom of 20cm (8 inches) pots with pebbles or broken ceramic pots to stop soil from falling out under the pot and improve drainage.

Fill the pots with a potting mix, or loam soil. Make a hole 5 – 10cm and plant the cutting at depth into the soil. Careful not to destroy the new roots.

Step 5: Stabilise the new bamboo plants by tying them to bamboo sticks with strings. Move them to a partly shaded location, away from windy sites.

Related article: How to Propagate Lucky Bamboo in Water

2. Propagate bamboo plants from culm cuttings

Step 1: Cut some cuttings from a three or four-year-old bamboo plant at 45 degrees angle. Each cutting must have at least two nodes and one internode. Cover the ends of the bamboo cuttings with wax, to save them from rotting or drying.

Step 2: Dip the bamboo cuttings in rooting hormone and ensure that the fresh cuts are covered with the hormone before shaking the excess off.

Step 3: Fill large a pot or container with potting mix or loam soil (mixture of equal parts sand, silt and clay). Make several holes in the soil and plant the culm cuttings.

Depending on the number of cuttings, you may need more than one pot. Ideally, an 20cm garden pot should hold not more than 6 new culm cuttings.

Step 4: Cover the cuttings with a clear plastic bag to keep the soil moist. Put the pot of newly planted culm cuttings in a warm area, out of direct sunlight.

Water the cuttings to keep the soil moist.

Step 5: When you see new shoots, it means the cuttings are growing roots and rhizomes in the soil.

Continue to water the cuttings until they are ready to move into new pots or planted straight in the garden.

Here is an in-depth article on how to grow bamboo plants from the culm cuttings.

3. Propagate bamboo from rhizome cuttings

image of bamboo rhizomes freshly dug and prepared for growing

You can use the 5 steps to propagate both clumping and running bamboo for their rhizomes.

Step 1: Separate the rhizomes from the parent bamboo plants. Careful not to break the rhizome tips and new shoots or buds growing at the rhizome’s nodes.

Step 2: Cut the rhizomes 4 – 6 buds using pair of secateurs. The best tip is to preserve new shoots at the nodes as they have a high chance of germinating when propagated into pots.

If you are taking cuttings from the main clump, leave 2 – 3 small culms on it. You can also use the rhizome tips/shoots as new cuttings.

Step 3: Water both the new cuttings and the parent bamboo plant thoroughly. Place the new cuttings straight into a bucket of water so that they don’t dry out.

You can dip the bamboo into growth hormone to boost root growth.

Step 4: Fill a large 20 – 30 cm pot or container with potting mix or loam soil (mixture of equal parts sand, silt and clay).

If you need more information about soil prep, check out this article.

Step 5: Make several holes in the soil and plant the rhizome cuttings with the shoots and rhizome buds facing up. Water the newly planted rhizomes cuttings thoroughly.

Depending on the size of the cuttings, you may need more than one pot. Place the pot in a shaded area, away from direct sun.

The Rhizomes will take about four to six weeks to grow. So, water consistently but do not overwater.

Here is an in-depth article on how to grow bamboo plants from rhizome cuttings.

4. Propagate bamboo from seeds

how to propagate bamboos from seeds guide

Step 1 Soak seeds: Firstly, soak the bamboo seed in a bowl of water for 20 – 24 hours. The water should not be too hot or too cold. Hot temperatures will destroy the bamboo seeds.

Cooler temperatures are likely to delay the seeds from germinating, 22 – 25 degrees Celsius are ideal for soaking bamboo seeds.

Step 2 Prepare compost and potting seeds: Prepare the compost in a pot or tray, space the seeds out at 1 – 2cm intervals and sprinkle a fine layer of compost on the top.

Step 3 Control temperature and moisture: Use a seed propagator if you have one. If you do not have one, use a clear plastic bag big enough to cover the pot or try completely.

Seeds germinate well where it is not too hot or too cool, so maintain the germinating temperature of 22 – 26 degrees Celsius.

Step 4 Seeds site: Place your potted seeds in a site where there is shade. Check the potted seeds daily. You should see the first sign of sprouting after 10 – 15 days.

Step 5 Seeds care: It can take up to 30 days for all the seeds to germinate, some seeds may take longer. Check that the leaves are green and healthy, and the soil remains moist.

Elevate the clear plastic cover, of the lid if you are using a propagator so that the leaves do not touch the sides of the covers.

Here is an in-depth article on how to propagate bamboo plants for the seeds.

Why propagate bamboo seeds, rhizomes and culms?

The methods mentioned in this article will promote the growth of bamboo seeds, rhizomes and cuttings.

If you want your favourite bamboo plants to grow, the first thing to do is to propagate them using one of the four ways highlighted here.

Propagating bamboo in water promotes the growth of bamboo seeds and cuttings.

In fact, the actual technique each gardener applies is going to be slightly different. However, if you are propagating bamboo plants for the first time, this article is going to be very useful.

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