One method of bamboo propagation of course is growing bamboo from seed. However, based on the fact that bamboo flowers rarely and seed is not readily available like most other plants, there is not much documentation on a a good method for bamboo seed germination. A few years ago we acquired some Moso bamboo seed and Dendrocalamus strictus seed. Not really knowing how to germinate this seed, I used a method that I recall reading online somewhere, with a few modifications. Much to my delight I achieved a very high rate of germination, and before I knew what hit me me I had hundreds of baby bamboos growing nicely in my fields along with my other plants.
1. Rinse seeds with clean water.
2. Soak seeds for 5 minutes in 10% salt water solution. Rinse.
3. Soak seeds for 15 minutes in clean water.
1. Use a 50/50 mix of perlite and peat/sphagnum moss, moistened to the point where you can barely squeeze water out of it. You can either mix this yourself or buy it pre-mixed at any local garden center. Do not use all your mix.
2. Place soil mixture in either a 1020 flat w/ humidity dome or I have also used a plastic Tupperware style sweater box with lid.
3. Scatter seeds randomly or place them in rows in the mix…it’s up to you.
4. Cover lightly with remaining soil mix and place cover on flat.
5. Lid should keep moisture high. Open once or twice a week to allow fresh air in and check soil moisture. If dry, gently mist with clean water.
Germination and seedling care:
1. You should begin seeing germination occur within 2 to 3 weeks.
2. Keep cover on for another week to keep humidity up and enhance seed germination. Once seedlings begin to reach the top of the cover remove cover.
3. Seeds will continue to germinate for upwards to 4 weeks after you see the first seed germinate.
4. Your new moso seedlings will grow to approximately 4 inches in the first month.
5. After the first month you can begin applications of an all purpose fertilizer. For this I mix Miracle Grow plant food into spray bottle and gently mist them thoroughly.
6. Depending on what container you used to germinate your seeds in, you can transplant the new seedlings safely after the first month. I have been putting all mine into 4″ round pots.
7. When new seedlings are about 2 to 3 months old they will begin to send up new shoots.
8. 1 year old seedlings will vary in height between 1 to 2 feet.
Again, this is what I have personally used to germinate my moso bamboo and strictus bamboo seeds. With most batches I achieved over a 75% germination rate, however, I cannot guarantee you will have the same success as the age of seed, time of year, and numerous other conditions will directly effect germination rate.
Does it matter which way the seed is physically oriented in the hole when being planted? Thanks
Thanks for the question macs.
I attempted my germination more like Mother Nature would and merely sprinkled the seed on the mixture, so where it fell was how I left it. For longer seed like moso others have said to just bury the rounded end below the surface. Other seed like strictus which is more round it should not matter. Remember, bamboo is a grass, so it will germinate on the surface much like a newly seeded lawn.
My bamboo is growing roots on the surface of the soil, and they run as if they’re looking for a way down. Should I cover them?
Hello Mary and thanks for the question.
If your seed has germinated and they have not found their way into the soil on their own, certainly, you can simply put a light, moist layer of soil on top. This will protect the new radicle from drying out while hopefully encouraging it to turn downward. If you batch germinated the seed, this would be an ideal time to gently put them into their own pot as well.
I also updated the article with pictures from when I batch germinated a bunch of Moso and strictus seeds.