There are three common ways to propagate bamboo plants – using the seeds, rhizome cuttings and culm cuttings.
In this article, you will find out how to propagate bamboo from seeds and transplant them successfully. You can find out about how to propagate bamboo plants from cuttings via this link.
Materials for propagating bamboo seeds
The two important factors you should pay attention to when propagating bamboo seeds are temperature and soil moisture.
As a rule of thumb, temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius and high moisture content are ideal for bamboo seeds to germinate.
Buy bamboo seeds UK
Bamboo plants flower occasionally and therefore seeds are hard to find. However, you can buy the seeds either online or from reputable nurseries in the UK.
Materials you will need to propagate bamboo from seeds
- A 50/50 organic compost.
- 4cm – 6cm growing pots or trays.
- Bowls for soaking the seeds.
- Rainwater or distilled water.
- Propagator (or well-insulated greenhouse) to keep the temperature constant at 25 – 30 degrees Celsius
Propagate bamboo seeds indoor
Important: To grow bamboo from seed, soak the seeds in a bowl of water for about 24 hours to promote root development. Rainwater or distilled water is ideal for soaking bamboo seeds. Avoid using treated water.
Keep the temperatures at the standard room temperature to promote germination.
- 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. Alternatively, use a clear plastic bag big enough to cover the pot. Seeds germinate well where it is not too hot or too cool. Maintain the germinating temperature of 22 – 26 degrees Celsius.
- Step 4 Potted seeds storage site: Place your newly potted seeds where there is a medium shade, away from direct sunlight. 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.
Transplanting germinated bamboo seeds in 5 steps
When the seeds have sprouted, it is time to transplant them. You will need steady hands to do that.
- Step 1. Prepare soil for growing bamboo sprouts: Mix a good potting soil with compost bark in the ratio of 75% to 25%, or 3 parts potting mixture to 1 part compost bark. The compost bark will add humus to the soil. Alternatively, use natural plant-based humus such as fine grass cuttings. Do not add too much as the heat can kill the new bamboo seedlings.
- Step 2. Moving sprouts: Carefully pull the healthy sprouting seeds out of the propagating pot or tray, use a lifter so that you do not break the delicate roots.
- Step 3. Do not empty the propagator: Put the propagating pots or trays back and leave for a further 10 days as the dormant bamboo seeds are likely to germinate.
- Step 4. Potting sprouts: Lay the bottom of the 4cm or 6cm plastics pots or containers with pebbles or broken ceramics. This will stop soil from falling through and improve drainage. Add the mixture of potting soil and bark (from Step 1). Plant the sprouts in the centre of the pots, careful not to damage the taproot and new root hairs.
- Step 5. Site for potted sprouts: Set the potted sprouts (in Step 4) in a location where the condition is suitable for further growth. Ideally in a greenhouse or indoors, for the new bamboo to grow for 10 – 12 months.
NOTE: You could lose 1 in 10 bamboo seedlings, but most of them stand a chance to germinate. When the new bamboo has reached a height of 10 – 40cm, it is time to move them into larger pots and containers.
When is the right time to grow bamboo seeds?
Spring and Summer are the best times to grow bamboos from seeds in the UK. The best soil for growing bamboo seeds is an all-purpose compose, bamboo seeds carry the nutrients they need to germinate.
Put the seeds indoors or greenhouse and maintain the soil moisture content as well as the temperature so that it is not too cold or too hot but at the standard room temperature of 22 – 25 degrees Celsius.
After they’ve germinated, it is time to transplant them into mini-grow pots. Always use plastic pots. The ceramic pots retain heat and are not ideal for germinating seeds.
From seeds to germinating and transplanting bamboo plants, remember that they’ll need water even in Winter. They’ll also need mulch and a lot of attention.
Growing bamboo from seeds to plants
New shoots and roots will appear after 20-30 days after planting. This is the best part of growing bamboo from seeds, it shows that the bamboo roots and rhizomes, and culms are establishing themselves in the propagator.
Start potting the early bamboo sprouts into larger pots where they’ll grow for the next 12 months. This will give the seeds that remained dormant in the propagator a chance to germinate.
Note: It can take as long as 5 years to grow bamboo from seeds to planting in pots and in the garden.
Can you propagate bamboo from seeds?
You can propagate bamboo from seeds. It can take an average of 5 years to propagate bamboo from seeds to get a fully-grown bamboo plant.
Though it is a painstaking undertaking, it can be really satisfying. Here is a breakdown of how long it can take to propagate bamboo from seeds to potting to transplanting into pots and gardens.
- 12 hours: soak seeds for propagating.
- 10 – 12 months (1st year): Grow in a propagator.
- 1 – 2 years (2nd – 3rd years): Bamboo sprouts to grow in the mini Seeds and Cutting Pots
- 2 – 3 years (4th – 5th years): Fully grown bamboo plants, ready for planting in the garden or big pots.
Bamboos are fastest-growing plants
Bamboo plants are known as the fastest-growing plants. Some species can grow at an average of 1m per day. The first shoots, rhizomes and culms can reach their full growth between the 4th and 5th years.
Tip: When the bamboos start to ‘outgrow’ the pots, it is time for repotting them. Prune the rhizomes and old culms so that they do not invade other spaces
The best thing to do when learning how to propagate bamboo from seeds and transplant them successfully is to prepare the materials and site properly.