Growing bamboo plants from seeds may be difficult. Some people avoid it because of the flowering cycle and the scarcity of seeds. Other people find growing bamboo from cuttings to be the easiest way. However, growing bamboo from seed is much fun and worth the patience. If you're looking for bamboo seeds, you can readily buy them from a specialized nursery or the American Bamboo Association. Or even buy from online stores. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to plant bamboo seeds. Let's begin!
Can You Grow Bamboo from Seeds?
The short answer is yes. However, growing bamboo from seeds can be a time-consuming process. This is because the seeds are hard to germinate. So, to get a few bamboo sprouts, you'd have to plant a lot of them. So, if you want to plant bamboo from seeds, you must be prepared. It will take time and effort, but you will enjoy the satisfying sensation at the end! This post will help you learn how to plant bamboo seeds.
Conditions Necessary for Growing Bamboo from Seed
Bamboo seeds usually require precise conditions to sprout; therefore, you must prepare both the seeds and your growth media before planting.
1. Growing medium
Use a growth medium that is both compost-nourished and well-draining. It's best to use a seed compost mix or a general compost mix.
2. Temperature and humidity levels
Bamboo plants grow naturally in warm, humid settings; therefore, the temperature of your soil and the surrounding temperature must be at the correct level for germination to occur. The temperature of your soil should range from 68 to 78 degrees F.
Although bamboo seeds like bright light, they cannot handle direct sunshine. Therefore, ensure your germinating seeds are in a well-lit area that's not directly exposed to the sun's rays.
Though the soil should not be soggy, germinating bamboo seeds must be well-watered. Therefore, ensure that the soil is moist and well-draining.
Method 1: Growing Bamboo from Seeds in Soil
What you'll require:
- Bamboo seeds
- A tray or glass container for soaking seeds
- Seedling trays or small pots
- Warm water
- Spray bottle
- Growing medium: Mulch, compost or compost mix
Step 1: Soak your bamboo seeds in water for 24 hours
The first step is to soak your bamboo seeds in water for 24 hours. Fill a tray or small glass container halfway with water around 85° F (30° C). Place your seeds in the water and leave them alone for 12 to 24 hours (You may put it somewhere warm where the temperature won't drop too much). This approach initiates the germination process for your seeds and enhances the likelihood of planting success.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that the temperature does not get too high since this might cook your seeds and reduce the possibility of germinating.
- Keep the container in a warm place to prevent the temperature from falling too rapidly. It also helps cover the container to retain the heat for longer.
- If you don't have a tray or container, you can put the bamboo seeds in a bag and fill it with water.
Step 2: Prepare the growing medium.
Prepare your growing medium as you wait for the seeds. Regular compost mix is favorable for a germinating bamboo seed. In addition, you can use small pots or plastic seedling trays.
Step 3: Placing the bamboo seeds in the growth medium
Fill your tray or container halfway with the compost mix. Allow space for the bamboo seeds and another thin layer of soil. Soak the soil in water. Then bring your soil temperature up to the required germination temperature of 68-78.8°F (20-26°C). You can do this by putting the container in a min greenhouse, propagator or covering it with a plastic bag.
Step 4: Planting bamboo seeds
Back to the soaked bamboo seeds, drain the water 10 to 20 minutes before planting. Then, allow enough space for your seeds. Place them on the warm compost with 0.3 inches (1 cm) using a big tray. Conversely, use only one seed if using tiny pots or seedling trays. On top of the seeds, add another layer of compost.
Step 5: Container placement
Place your pot or container in a location that will receive bright indirect sunlight. Your seeds will die if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Therefore, it's best to place your bamboo plant in the shade. Monitor the container since you don't want it to get too dry. You may water it once a day using a spray bottle because if you don't maintain the moisture, the bamboo seedlings will die in days.
Step 6: Wait patiently
You should expect to see seeds sprout within 10 days of planting. However, if the seed did not germinate in at least 15 to 20 days, don't worry since the germination period varies with different bamboo species. Therefore, if yours don't germinate right away, don't give up soon.
Step 7: Transplant the seedlings
Image source: rhs.org.uk
After 3-4 months, transplant the healthy bamboo seedlings into bigger pots or containers with drainage holes. Most of the seeds should have grown by then. Don't throw away bamboo seeds that didn't germinate after this time; instead, wait a little longer, and maybe a few more will appear.
Use decent potting soil with around 50 percent tiny bark-chip mulch to transplant your seedlings. This would result in a potting mix with excellent drainage and moisture retention properties, ideal for the bamboo plant.
Method 2: Growing Bamboo from Seeds with Paper Towel
The paper towel method is popular for being easier and faster. When you apply this method, your bamboo seeds will germinate faster.
What you'll require:
- Toilet paper
- Potting soil
- Bamboo seeds
- Plastic bag
- Small pot
Step 1: Soak the paper towels
Soak your paper towels with room temperature water. You may double layer them to keep moisture in for a longer period. Some people usually claim that adding salt to the water will speed germination. The idea is to create a 20 percent saltwater solution.
Step 2: Put bamboo seeds on the moist paper towel
Place several seeds on one side of the damp paper towel. You don't need to put too many bamboo seeds on one paper towel; 5 to 8 is enough. Also, leave some distance between them. Then, fold the paper towel over to completely cover the seeds.
Step 3: Put the seed in a warm spot
Put the paper towels and seeds in a plastic bag. In a warm location, your bamboo seeds will germinate faster. Then, place the plastic bag in a warm location, avoiding hot direct sun.
Step 4: Wait patiently
Expect bamboo seed germination after two weeks. Usually, germination can take a few days to a few weeks or longer. It all depends on the type of bamboo. You should therefore check and dampen the towels frequently. Ensure they are always moist and warm.
Step 5: Transplant the sprout
When the seeds have germinated, take the bamboo sprout and put it in a small container or pot. Fill the container or pot with high-quality, well-draining potting soil. The soil you choose will have a significant impact on the health and survival of your bamboo plants.
Step 6: Container placement
You can keep the pot or container warm by placing it inside a plastic bag. Bamboo plants usually require a high level of humidity and bright indirect light. Therefore, you should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.
Step 7: Watering
At this step, ensure your bamboo is getting adequate water. And if your soil is draining properly, you shouldn't worry about overwatering. On the other hand, you should know that the soil should never become soggy. This will help in the prevention of diseases.
Note: When your bamboo plant experiences its first winter, the seedlings would require protection in cooler climates. Plant the seedlings in the ground and cover them with an inch of mulch. If the bamboo species are less resilient or you live in an extremely cold region, keep them indoors for their first winter.
Besides, you may need to relocate them the next spring so that the roots have more room. Keep your bamboo plant moist and wait for your first crop of new shoots. Once the seedlings are 12 inches (30cm )long, you can transplant them into your garden.
Method 3: Growing the Seedlings in a Mini-Greenhouse
Step 1: Place the greenhouse under 12-16 hours of indirect sunlight daily.
12-16 hours is the minimum amount of sunlight required by the seeds to develop into seedlings. So, first, place your greenhouse away from direct sunlight to avoid scorching the seeds. Then, keep your greenhouse covered with a lid to keep the warmth in.
- You can use a grow light to provide warmth for your seedlings. Conversely, to protect the plants from burning, keep an incandescent light about 24 inches (61 cm) away from them. Instead, you can place a fluorescent light 6 inches (15 cm) away from the greenhouse.
Step 2: Water the pellets every day
If you notice water accumulating on the pellet's surface, stop and water a little less the next time. Keep in mind that each pellet may require a different volume of water regularly. After around 10 days, you should see sprouts pop out of the soil.
Step 3: Remove the greenhouse lid
When the sprouts start contacting the greenhouse lid, remove it and leave the cover off. The heat created by the cover might burn and injure the sprouts.
Step 4: Transplant the seedlings
After 30 days, transplant the seedlings to bigger planting pots. Get a single 2 US gal (7.6 L) planting container for every three pellets. Fill each container with halfway full potting soil. Then, fill the remaining space with bark mulch. Make a hole for each pellet that's slightly bigger than the actual size of the pellet. Then, lift each planting pellet gently and place it in a hole in the container.
Note: You can put multiple pellets in a single pot so long as they're not directly touching. And if there is no visible sprout on a pellet, you can still transplant it and wait for it to grow a plant in due time. Additionally, cover each pellet with 0.99 cm ( 0.39 inches) of potting soil, ensuring the top of the pellet is not visible.
Step 5: Place the pots under 6 hours of indirect sunlight
Excessive direct sunlight will continue to burn your bamboo seedlings, so ensure they get roughly half sun and half shade in a day. You may even need to reposition your pots to ensure they receive at least 6 hours of light.
Note: The seedlings should remain bright green. If they become yellow or brown, they have been exposed to too much sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Plant Bamboo Seeds
1. Can you plant bamboo seeds directly in the ground?
Yes, you can plant bamboo seeds in the ground though it depends on the weather zone. These seeds usually require some protection; therefore, ensure you cover them with an inch of mulch to keep them warm over the winter. If the bamboo plants are still young during their first winter, we recommend potting them and bringing them indoors to help them survive the cold.
2. Does bamboo require sunlight?
Most bamboo plants usually require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Though certain species tolerate more shade, generally, the more sunlight you can provide, the happier the plant. The best location is in a greenhouse or atrium, with higher light and humidity levels.
3. Why are my bamboo plant's leaves turning yellow?
Yellowing bamboo leaves can result from low soil nutrients, overwatering, boggy soil, lack of water, or stressful growth conditions. Monitor the soil regularly and ensure the soil has adequate drainage.
4. What type of soil does bamboo prefer?
Bamboos like soil with a pH level of at least 6). Besides, bamboo plants usually like loamy soil in terms of soil texture. Therefore, you can apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the plants to boost growth.