Bamboo propagation is by far the quickest and easiest way to increase the number of bamboo plants you have. For the bamboo farmer this means increasing the number of bamboo for shoot production, timber, or plants for sale. For the home owner, this means being able to screen out those nasty neighbors much faster.
Bamboo propagation is done in numerous ways, but also varies based on the type of bamboo. I happen to live in Florida and have a large variety of tropical clumping bamboo and therefore propagation via division is the easiest method. If I lived in the Pacific Northwest and I specifically grew running varieties of bamboo, I would use the same method as well. However, many of the tropical clumpers can also be cut up into pieces and with the pieces buried they will root and grow into an exact close of the parent bamboo.
To the left is a division I took of Bambusa mutabilis. Using my sawzall as described in my post How To Propagate Clumping Bamboo via Division it took me less than 10 minutes to create a new plant from the mother plant.
As you’ll find below, most other people are propagating their bamboo the same way. My tips and videos are so helpful that users have even posted follow up videos showing their success.
Well there are three ways to propagate bamboo that the average person can enjoy. They involve growing from seed, plant division and vegetative propagation. Most gardeners are familiar with these techniques since many plants in the plant kingdom are propagated using these methods.
Since bamboo rarely flowers except when it’s life cycle is complete, there is not much bamboo seed to propagate new bamboo plants. However, if you have a chance to get some seed and it germinates you could have a new clone on your hands that could be way different than the parent plant, which could be both good and bad.
Propagating bamboo through division simply involves selecting the section of bamboo plant you wish to transplant, then using a shovel digging that section out and planting it in the new location. Some bamboos have a thicker rhizome structure, an if so more aggressive tools may be needed, such as a sawzall, prybar, and maybe even a backhoe!
Vegatative propagation of bamboo involves using part of the parent plant to produce a new plant. This usually is also called cloning since the plant produced will be identical to the parent bamboo. There are several ways of accomplishing vegetative propagation including culm cuttings, branch node cuttings and whole culm burial. It’s been said that some bamboos will also grow roots using aerial rooting, but I have not had much experience with this area. Also, vegetative propagation of bamboo mostly pertains to the tropical clumpers and not any of the running bamboos.
Bamboo makes an effective living screen, growing to its maximum height much more quickly than a traditional hedge. Clumping bamboos are the easiest type to maintain and control in the home landscape — they tend to stay put instead of running wildly across the yard and under fences. Because of their compact nature, you may want to propagate more of these plants to give to friends or create additional borders. Rhizome division is the main form of propagation, because bamboo rarely and unreliably sets seeds.
Check around the outside of the clump of bamboo you are interested in propagating for small shoots growing along the edge. Remove bamboo from its pot if you will be propagating a potted bamboo.
Plunge the shovel about 8 inches into the ground, between the mature bamboo and the shoots on the perimeter of a stand, to divide rhizomes from the main clump. Saw through the bamboo on the outside edge at about 1 foot above the ground if you require more room to work — some clumps will spread wider than others. Cut a potted bamboo into four pieces with either the shovel or with a hand saw, depending on the size of the clump.
Move the divided rhizomes immediately to the new bedding area or replant into large pots at the same depth from where they were removed. Do not allow them to dry out. Water the bamboo thoroughly until it is re-established.
Things You Will Need: Sharp-edged shovel, Hand-held saw, Potting soil,Large pots
The best time to propagate bamboo is in the late spring, although some areas, such as Southern California, see mild enough weather that you can successfully divide and plant bamboo from May to September.
There’s even a Facebook page for those interested in a training course, though I think that everything you need to know can be found right here on this website. https://www.facebook.com/propagatebamboo
1. Spade around the entire clump of bamboo, taking care not to damage any roots. Do this in the early spring before the bamboo produces new growth for the season.
2. Lift the clump of bamboo from the hole. Discard any dead or rotting culms from the bamboo clump.
3. Separate the clump of roots by pulling them apart with a garden fork. Cut extremely tangled root clumps with a hacksaw or garden saw.
4. Transplant the divided bamboo clumps where you want them in the landscape. Plant them only as deep as they were previously planted. Water the transplants thoroughly.
5. Cut a bamboo cane that’s less than three years old into sections. Each section must contain as least two nodes and an internode. The rings, or swelled sections on the bamboo culm, are called nodes and the shaft between each node is called an internode.
6. Notch a “V” in the middle of the internode to expose the inner chamber of the bamboo. This will resemble a hole on a flute.
7. Mix equal parts of potting soil and coarse sand to fill a growing tray. Create a trench in the planting medium slightly larger than the bamboo cutting.
8. Insert the bamboo cutting horizontally into the planting medium, with the notch facing upwards. Cover the cutting with the soil but leave the notched internode exposed.
9. Pour water into the notch on the bamboo cutting. Cover the cutting with clear plastic. Water the cutting through the notch each day until new shoots appear. Remove the plastic and maintain a watering schedule until the new bamboo shoots are large enough to be transplanted.
10. Cut a three or four year old bamboo cane into several sections using a hacksaw. Each section must contain at least one node and one internode. Cut any existing leaves in half.
11. Fill a growing pot with an equal mixture of coarse sand and potting soil. Make several holes in the growing medium for the bamboo cuttings.
12. Seal the top ridges of the bamboo cuttings with bee’s wax or candle wax to keep it from rotting or drying out. Melt some wax and simply dip the top of the cane into the wax, about 1/8 of an inch.
13. Pour 2 tbsp. of rooting hormone in a plastic bag and dip the bamboo cuttings into the hormone. Make certain the rooting hormone covers the bottom node on the cutting. Shake off the excess and stick the bamboo into the growing pot.
14. Cover the bamboo cuttings with clear plastic and set the pot in a warm area, out of direct sunlight. Water the cuttings to keep the soil moist. When you see new sprouts forming, the cuttings have rooted. Continue to grow the bamboo until the weather permits outside transplanting.
Bamboo is a strong, fibrous plant with a variety of uses. It can be made into textiles, musical instruments, or be used as building material. It can also be eaten or used as an ornamental plant. In recent years, bamboo has become a popular substitute for wood and plastic in laminate flooring because it is a more sustainable option. Bamboo grows quickly and is relatively easy to propagate. There are three main methods of bamboo propagation.
The most difficult method of bamboo propagation is growing it from seed. Most species of bamboo tend to flower and produce seeds only at the end of their lifetimes, if at all, and some species of bamboo can live up to 120 years. Flowering is unpredictable and inconsistent, which makes it challenging to collect seeds. Bamboo seeds have a short life, and must be kept under carefully controlled conditions to keep them viable.
Another approach to bamboo propagation is called clump division or rhizome offsetting. A rhizome is an underground stem that produces both roots and shoots. When a rhizome with a budding stalk is cut off from the main rhizome, it is capable of growing into a new plant. There are two approaches to this type of vegetative propagation. One way involves cutting single budding rhizomes from the parent rhizome and re-planting them. The other method is to cut the parent rhizome into two or more parts and plant them separately.