Gardening & Growing Bamboo From Seed

Overview

Although groves of tall-growing bamboo are often referred to as bamboo forests, the plant is a member of the grass family. Bamboo grows throughout the world. Many bamboo plants produce seed only once or twice in a human lifetime and instead produce plants on runners. Although it is far more common to find bamboo in shoot form, you can order bamboo seeds from nurseries.

Step 1

Select a location for your bamboo that is in full sun with well-drained soil. Bamboo will suffer root rot if it is in poorly drained soil.

Step 2

Choose bamboo seed from a non-invasive bamboo plant. Invasive plants spread on runners more often than they do from seed. Rinse the seeds in clean water. Mix a solution of 1 part salt and 9 parts water. Soak the seeds in the saltwater solution for five minutes. Then, soak the seeds for 15 minutes in fresh water.

Step 3

Mix a potting mix containing 1 part perlite and 1 part peat moss. Wet the potting mix until it is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Fill a potting tray with the mix and sprinkle the bamboo seeds over the soil. Sprinkle more potting mix over the seeds.

Step 4

Cover the seeds with plastic and leave it in a sunny windowsill to germinate. Check the potting tray daily and mist with water whenever the soil feels dry. Remove the plastic once the bamboo sprouts and begins growing.

Step 5

Transplant bamboo into 4-inch peat potting containers filled with 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite in the first month. The bamboo shoots will have grown to 4 inches tall at this point.

Step 6

Test your soil before planting bamboo by digging soil samples from up to 10 locations across your landscape. Mix the soil in a bucket and allow it to dry. Then scoop 1 cup of soil into a sandwich bag and take to your a county extension service. Agents with the county extension service will send your soil sample to the nearest university-operated soil testing facility. Soil test results are generally returned within three weeks. The test results will show the pH of your soil as well as the soil composition, and will contain recommendations for improving your soil. If your county extension offices do not offer this service, use a home test kit.

Step 7

Break up your soil with a rototiller to a depth of 12 inches. Spread amendments over your soil based on recommendations from your soil test. Common soil amendments include peat moss, compost and composted manure. You may also need to add lime to raise the pH of your soil. Although in nature bamboo will grow under conditions that range from dry and mountainous to wet and boggy, in your landscape the plant thrives best in well-drained loamy soil with a pH of 6.0.

Step 8

Harden off bamboo seedlings by moving them outdoors into the shade every day for two weeks during daytime hours. Once bamboo seedlings have hardened off, you can transplant them into the landscape.

Step 9

Dig planting holes for the bamboo with a shovel into your prepared bed. The planting pockets should be twice as wide as the bamboo's root ball, but no deeper. Place the root ball of the bamboo into the hole. Fill in around the sides with soil. Tap the soil to dislodge air pockets and fill in with more soil. Water the bamboo.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Perlite
  • Peat moss
  • Potting tray
  • Misting bottle
  • 4-inch peat pot
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Plastic bag

References

  • Gator Ventures: Bamboo Seed Germination
  • Washington State University: Soil Testing
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Bamboo

Who Can Help

  • Gator Ventures: Bamboo Propagation from Seed
Keywords: germinate bamboo, starting bamboo seeds, planting bamboo

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."