Bamboo seeds are a bit of an elusive thing. They are tricky to come by and tricky to grow. In fact, even experts will tell you that growing them is a bit of a chore! Bamboo typically flowers only once and during that one flowering the seeds are dropped. The seeds from the bamboo can be gathered to attempt propagation, but they don’t remain viable for long periods of time.
When Does Bamboo Flower?
Bamboo flowers at the end of its life. This can be anywhere from a few years to one hundred years depending on the species! Once the bamboo has flowered it will typically die-although some people have had success in saving it.
Collecting Bamboo Seeds
Bamboo seeds are fairly small and can be difficult to collect. They typically cling to the plant until they are mature and then fall off. Getting the seeds when they’re mature enough-but haven’t been lost in the grass or dirt can be a difficult task because the rate at which the seeds will mature is fairly unknown.
How to get Bamboo Seeds
Obtaining bamboo seeds that are viable can be difficult. If you have a plant going to seed, then obviously you can collect your own. You can also attempt to purchase them from nurseries or from the American Bamboo Society. Generally speaking, the professionals like to keep the seeds with the professionals so that they stand a better chance at survival. Bamboo seeds can also be commonly found on Ebay and Amazon, but I would recommend staying away from these because they are probably no longer viable.
Growing Bamboo from Seed
If you are able to obtain bamboo seeds you can attempt to grow them, but be aware that your plant may not have the characteristics of the parent plant. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your goals.
There are several ways that people attempt to germinate bamboo, but the one I would recommend using is outlined below.
1. Dampen a paper towel with room temperature water and ring out excess water.
2. Put your seeds onto the moist paper towel and fold it over.
3. Put the paper towel with the bamboo seeds into the plastic bag.
4. Place the plastic bag in a warm (but not hot) area.
5. Watch for germination… If you know the species the seeds came from you may be able to determine how long this should take. Generally speaking germination can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple years or longer.
6. Once germination occurs take the bamboo sprout and plant it into a small pot using a high quality, well-draining potting soil.
7. Place this pot inside of a plastic bag and place back into a warm area- but limit intense direct sunlight which most bamboo plants dislike. Bright areas with indirect light work well.
8. Water your plant regularly watching to make sure that the soil doesn’t get soggy.
While this may sound easy, it takes a lot of patience, skill and luck to get a bamboo plant to grow from seed! If you decide to give it a try see if there’s a local bamboo nursery that might be willing to offer some guidance before you begin!