How to Propagate Bamboo

Every day people search out information on bamboo propagation and stumble upon my website. I even get email questions from some of these people asking for additional information.  I’m hoping with the format change of this site that I will be able to share my bamboo propagation information, tips and tricks more easily, as well as providing an open forum for which people can get their questions answered regarding the subject.

Being there are two types of bamboo, runners and clumpers, the easiest and fastest way to propagate bamboo is through division.  Quite simply this is the act of digging and separating culms from the primary plant.  Runners by far are easiest as the rhizome mass is limited.  Clumping bamboo can be a little more difficult as the rhizome mass is thick, and often requires the use of a sawzall, prybar, shovel and a few gallons of sweat.

The second method of bamboo propagation is through vegetative means.  This method is reserved for the tropical clumping variety of bamboo and can be accomplished in one or more ways, culm node cuttings, branch node cuttings, whole culm burial and lastly through air layering of branch nodes.  Not all methods work with each type of clumping bamboo either, and some work better for some than others.  Time of year the the cuttings are taken are also a very important factor and vary from species to species.  I’ll go into more detail in another post, but iI’ve included some pictures below as well as a few short videos here How To Grow and Propagate Bamboo from Cuttings.

The third method of course is through bamboo seed germination.  Being that bamboo plants do not flower very often makes this one method that many will not see in their lifetime unless they are fortunate enough to get access to fresh seed.  Bamboo seed loses it’s viability rather quickly unless stored properly, but I have had success with germinating Moso bamboo seed after several years in cold storage with a germination rate around 50%.  For more on bamboo seed germination, you can see my pictures and detailed instructions here Bamboo Seed Germination.

The fourth method of bamboo propagation which is still in early stages of development and is probably the most difficult is through tissue culture.  This mass production of bamboo seems to be the fastest way to get the most plants, however, many bamboo experts have found bamboo grown from tissue culture to be problematic when it comes to growth rate and bamboo development.  I have zero experience when it comes to this, but I know there have been many headlines regarding this, and I’m sure as the technology develops it will become a more viable solution to bamboo propagation.  If you are an amateur bamboo propagator I suggest you try out a few of the above methods before attempting tissue culture propagation.