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How to propagate bamboo for more plants

A thicker bamboo bush is better than a small one, so when you are growing bamboo, it is natural to want to increase your numbers by propagating more plants. Especially if you have a new species that you want to more of them in pots or different places in your garden or your bamboo has grown thick and is spreading out, you want to share the species with your bamboo-loving friends. Whatever the zeal you have with your bamboo, there are different ways of propagating bamboo, one being easy enough.

There are three methods of propagating bamboo:

  • Taking cuttings from the rhizomatous roots
  • Taking cuttings from young culms
  • Growing directly from seed

In most cases, root cuttings are the fastest and easiest way of propagating bamboo because seeds are difficult to find and slow to take off.

Below is an explanation of the three ways on how to propagate bamboo. 

1. Propagating bamboo by rhizomes and root cuttings

The most natural way to propagate and renew bamboo effectively is by way of underground expansion. In this way, the roots spread out to continuously produce new shoots, which grow into towering poles. This strategy works as a natural strategy, but industrious gardeners can use this technique for themselves.

There is a distinction between running bamboo and clumping bamboo; running bamboo has long rhizomes growing parallel to the ground and away from the main plant. Roots grow out from the nodes of rhizomes as they expand, sending fresh shoots growing upwards.

2. Clumping bamboo

A clumping bamboo means that the plants will be close together. In this case, do not try to take a cutting unless the plant is mature and well established. Instead, look for a new shoot with a little more distance between itself and the main plant, which indicates a longer rhizome segment. It will enable you to extract a small clump of 2 or 3 shoots removed from the main clump.

3. Propagation from root bound bamboo

If you have an overgrown bamboo struggling to free itself in a pot it has overgrown, bamboo propagation is the only solution. However, when the plant gets root bound, the roots cannot stretch out, stopping the plant from producing new growth. Another issue is that it gets impacted, so water can't soak in the pot and reach the roots.

To cure this, divide up a root ball in the late fall or winter. It will be beneficial in the dormant season because the new growth hasn't begun. It allows the separate specimens to recover a bit and get situated before the growing season begins.

You can prevent overcrowding in a pot if you know the signs, thus prevent it before it's too late. If it's too late, you have to pull the whole plant out of the pot, which will require you to destroy the pot if need be. Have your watering tools close by

You will see where the rhizomes have hit the pot and turned back on themselves when you remove the bamboo out of the pot. You will need a saw to cut it through since the result is a knotted mess. But, first, see off the bottom couple inches of the root ball, discard the disc-shaped mesh to see what's happening in the roots.

Combine your tools and force by sawing, cutting, or tearing the root mass apart. The process can be difficult as the roots are attached to the canes 5 or 10 feet tall. Some sections might come off more easily than others; you could end up with a total of 3 or 4 viable sections depending on the size of the pot.

Separate your potential survivors by potting them with some fresh soil and water immediately. Please give them a thorough soaking because the roots have been starved for water. Then, for stability, prop the plants using a stake or lean them against a fence until they re-establish themselves.

Advantages of rhizome propagation

Propagation by roots and rhizomes is the best choice with bamboo because that's the center of plants' life. It's the central nervous system of the plant. A bamboo plant won't start producing new shoots and new culms until the roots have established themselves. Therefore, it is advisable to start a new plant from a healthy section of rootstock. If you are taking chances on the plant's life, transfer the roots. It is because the roots have a tenacious will to live. So if you transplant an intact section of roots, with or without stalks or culms, there's a high chance it will survive.

Branch cuttings

With the same method of culm cutting, you can propagate different types of bamboo from branch cuttings. Using young branches, include a nodal joint on each cutting, then place the cutting on the water until you see a fresh growth, then place directly to the soil. For quick success, try rooting hormone. You can make your rooting hormone with saliva, diluted apple cider vinegar, diluted honey, fresh aloe vera gel, or a solution of crushed aspirin.

Lucky bamboo cuttings

When people talk of Lucky Bamboo, they think it is taking bamboo cuttings and growing them directly in water, but this is completely different. Lucky bamboo is a type of Dracaena, not actually bamboo or grass. It is easy to propagate from cuttings.

Let us look into the step-by-step methods of how to propagate bamboo for more plants.

Method 1. Propagating Culm Cuttings

1. Please choose the right tool and sterilize it.

Pick a tool depending on how thick your bamboo is. If your bamboo is thin, you can use a knife, but you can use a hand saw if it's thick. Before using the tool, sterilize it with a household disinfectant such as diluted bleach or rubbing alcohol.

2. Cut a (25 cm) piece of bamboo at a 45° angle.

Ensure each piece cut from the bamboo has at least 3 or 4 nodes; these are the rings that wrap around the stalk. If you want the bamboo to grow successfully from the cutting, the bamboo should be at least an inch in diameter of 2.5cm.

3. Apply a rooting hormone

Applying a rooting hormone stimulates a faster development of the replant. Apply the rooting hormone at the ends of the cutting and remove off excess. You can purchase the rooting hormone from a gardening store or make yours at home.

4. Apply a soft wax at the rim of the exposed end.

To prevent the stalk from rotting or drying, use a soft wax like beeswax or soy wax, ensuring you don't cover the center hole with wax.

5. Bury the cutting one node deep into a pot filled with potting soil.

Have small nursery pots for each cutting; push the bamboo into the potting soil until one node is completely buried. To eliminate air pockets present, ensure you press the soil firmly around the bamboo.

6. Damp the soil thoroughly with a spray bottle. 

Stick your finger into the soil to feel the wetness of it. The soil should feel damp and not muddy.

7. Pour water into the center of the cutting.

Filling water in the center of the cutting gives extra water to your cutting. As much as you water your soil for the roots to develop, ensure you check the water levels every two days and keep the center filled.

8. Keep the pots out of direct sunlight. 

As the bamboo cuttings grow, they should be placed in the shade, but a little light throughout the day is fine. Check the soil frequently to ensure it's moist, and don't let water sit on top of the soil to minimize the risk of the roots rotting.

Placing a plastic bag over the cutting helps the plant retain moisture, but it doesn't have to grow.

9. Transplant the bamboo after four months. 

After 3 to 4 weeks of replanting, you should notice the increase in height on your cutting and more branches appearing from the nodes. After being in the pot for four months, relocate the cutting into the ground by gently loosening the soil in the pot with a hand shovel.

Place the bamboo into a hole a little bit larger than the bamboo root system. Fill it with soil and water it.

Method 2: Keeping Cuttings in Water

1. Take (25 cm) cuttings off new bamboo growth. 

It would be best if you cut the bamboo at a 45^ angle with a sharp knife. The cuttings should have two nodes and two culms. It is the area between the nodes. The knife used to cut the bamboo stalk should also be sterilized using a household disinfectant such as diluted bleach or rubbing alcohol.

2. Dip the bottom part in a pot of water in a bright place.

 The bottom node should be dipped in water so that it maximizes the area for root development. It would be best to put the bamboo in an area that gets sunlight of at least 55 °F. To monitor root development, use a clear container.

3. Change the water every two days.

Change the water frequently to maintain the nutrients for your plant's growth; standing water loses oxygen quickly, thus depriving your plant of nutrients.

4. Transfer the cutting to a pot if the roots are 2 inches in length

The roots will develop after several weeks, but once they are 2 inches long, you can transfer them to a pot or the ground for further growth. Next, plant them an inch deep.

Method 3: Using Rhizomes to grow the bamboo

1. Use a garden knife to cut rhizomes that have grown 2 or 3 buds.

Remove the dirt carefully from the root system of your bamboo plant. Next, find a portion of the rhizome that has 2 or 3 growth buds or the areas where the stalks grow from. To collect the rhizome, trim the stalks down.

Eliminate any signs of diseases and pests by not using any rhizomes that have a dark or patchy appearance. Instead, collect rhizomes from an established bamboo clump to avoid putting your bamboo in danger.

2. Spread the rhizome horizontally with the buds facing upwards.

Put some layer of potting soil in the pot and place the side where the bamboo stalks grow, facing upwards. Keep the ends of the stalks attached to some rhizome out of the soil.

3. Bury the rhizome with 3 inches of potting soil. 

Bury the rhizome with 3 inches of potting soil so it can start to develop and grow. Please press on the soil firmly, so it has complete contact with the rhizome.

4. Water the soil. 

Maintain the moisture of the soil but do not overwater. To ensure it is not muddy, you can stick your finger in the soil to ensure it is just damp. Have frequent checks of the moistness of the soil by dipping your finger, and if it feels dry, water the plant.

5. Keep the pots in the shade for a month. 

Ensure the pot is out of direct sunlight by keeping it in a shady area or under a large tree. It will take a month for your bamboo sprouts to grow through the soil. Then, you can put bamboo grown through rhizomes back into the soil at inconsistent temperatures of 55 °F.

Conclusion

Bamboo is an interesting plant to work with because there are sorts of experiments you can explore with it in all your endeavors with. Propagating bamboo adds to the list of the experiments you can achieve with too and interesting activity. An easier method of propagation is to cut some roots and replant them. However, it only works if you are working with running bamboo.

If you feel adventurous while growing tropical bamboo, you can take cuttings from a culm. You will then have to bury the segments and see how the roots grow from the branching nodes. Lastly, if you are tired of growing the same bamboos every time, try getting seeds and see the outcome.

Mary Kashinsky

Hi there, my name is Mary. I love reviewing bamboo products and writing about sustainable solutions & greener lifestyle options as a hobby. When I’m not in front of the screen, I read, relish traditional food, practice yoga, travel and enjoy life!

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