page represents some of my experiments with propagation, growing bamboo
from seed, and other related items. I started in 2001 with my bamboo
collection. I learned from many sources. This page will change based on
what I find to be the best methods. You can even submit one yourself.
Are ya' excited yet?
Fertilizing Bamboo in Deep South Texas:
The information presented here is for the Rio Grande Valley in Deep
South Texas. In Harlingen, we only get an average of 27 inches of rain
each year. Our soils are alkaline. Most of the soil on the Boonut Farm
is identified as "Raymondville Clay Loam" (RE) by the United States
Department of Agriculture in their soil survey for Cameron County. This
soil is very flat with slow permeability and slow runoff. Because
Harlingen's North main drain runs through the property, drainage is not
a major problem. There are veins of sand running throughout the
property. These areas are the exact opposite of the rest of the
property. These areas require quite a bit more water. Water on the
property is supplied primarily by 12" irrigation pipes. There are 4
stand pipes that provide access to the gravity fed irrigation system.
The property can be flooded in one day. City water is piped in
throughout the property. There are also two 60' wells with 2" pipes.
The farm is 33' above sea level.
Because of the clay loam soils and little rainfall, all bamboo must be
mulched regularly with about 8 - 12 inches of mulch. I use Cypress
Mulch because of the high acidity of the mulch. I use flooding, regular
watering from city water and well water to ensure the soil does not
crack and become brick hard. I also use Sahara Bermuda Grass to protect
the soil from eroding or being blown away by the occasional high winds.
This soil treatment also keeps a certain amount of moisture from being
evaporated by the intense heat and high winds in deep South Texas.
There are a number of nurseries that sell fertilizers especially made
for our soils. In my opinion, in addition to this fertilizer, I add
Hi-Yield's "Soil Sulfur" and granular Ammonium Sulfate about two to
three times a year. When I plant a bamboo, I add Agriform's fertilizer
tablets (20-15-5 with minors)... usually about 5 per plant. I add these
tablets down about half way down the root ball as I fill the hole with
additional soil. You want to be careful when adding the soil sulfur and
ammonium sulfate. I use around half a cup of each for bamboo that is 5
- 8 feet in diameter at the base. I try to spread 75% of both products
out about 2 - 3 feet from the closest culm to encourage root growth
away from the clump.
After fertilizing or during the first year of growth, you have to make
sure you don't over water. With our soils, you basically have a bucket
that holds water. If you fill the hole with good topsoil or garden
soil, your bamboo will grow rapidly. Once the roots extend beyond the
hole, you don't have to worry as much about over watering as long as
the bamboo doesn't sit in water for more than 3 - 5 days. Dendrocalamus
bamboos seem more sensitive to over watering. A good rule of thumb is
water less when first planted and during dormant times. Water
frequently when the bamboo is growing or shooting. From time to time,
especially during high winds in November, when I think the soil may be
dry, I dig away a little of the mulch to get a better idea of the
moisture content of the soil. You would really be surprised at how well
the cypress mulch works.
Since we have high winds during shooting times for most tropical
clumpers, it is best to fertilize early spring and not when the bamboo
starts to shoot. Fertilizing and over watering during shooting can make
your bamboo easy to break off during high winds.
Author: Allen D. Aleshire 12/2006
Propagating Clumping Bamboo Using Culm Cuttings:
Culm node cuttings on most tropical clumpers aren't that hard and it is
sure easier than dividing bamboo through rhizome divisions. Both
methods have their place, I just prefer culm node cuttings. This method
doesn't set your bamboo plant back and you can make quite a few new
plants from just one culm. If you use the top half of the culm, you
don't even bother the plants ability to send up new shoots. Each
rhizome has eight buds that "may" send up a new shoot. I prefer to let
the plant grow so that I can enjoy a larger plant sooner.
Some bamboo such as Bambusa Vulgaris, Bambusa Vulgaris "vittata", and
Bambusa Vulgaris "wamin" can be propagated using culm nodes almost any
time. I have done culm node divisions on these in December in my garage
with very small branch and culm node cuttings. Others like Bambusa
Lako, you have to wait until the plant is sending its energy into
putting out new growth - just before it shoots- to get the best chance
of growing a new plant from a cutting. For South Texas, this is about
May or June. I have had some success in July, but the cuttings start to
taper off after that. I don't use a greenhouse for this process since
it is generally pretty humid with night-time temps above 68 at this
time. I do protect the cuttings by placing them in a spot where they
don't get hit by very high winds and where they see filtered sun light.
I have a perfect place under a Live Oak tree in my back yard for this
purpose. I use one to three gallon pots for my cuttings so that I don't
use too much soil. I think just about any potting mix will do as long
as it drains well. I would highly recommend using fresh potting mix and
not reused mix or ground soil.
As a general rule of thumb, I have had better success with thicker
walled culms than thinner walled culms. As a general rule of thumb, I
have had better success with culm nodes that have a lot of growth than
ones with very little growth. If you see some primordial roots starting
at the culm node anyway, then you can almost count on 100% success.
Some times you will see primordial roots starting after a good rain or
early in the year.
The next thing we need to talk about is rooting hormone. I fill a 30
gallon container up about half way with water. I then dump about 3
tablespoons of "Hormodin 2" or "Hormodin 3" depending on how tough I
think the cuttings will be. The higher the number, the more rooting
hormone concentrate. I add about 3 tablespoons of Hi-Yield's Vitamin B1
to the mix. I stir the entire mix until it is a little milky. This is
where I toss the cuttings for about 20 - 30 minutes before planting
them. You can get Hormodin 2 or Hormodin 3 at most nursery supply
stores. You can get Hi-Yield Vitamin B1 at just about any place that
sells plants or planting materials.
The tools you will need for cutting and trimming the cuttings include a
very fine toothed saw (the cleaner the cut, the less stress to the
cutting), a good sized lopper, and a good set of pruners. Make sure you
clean your tools very carefully before use each time to avoid transfer
of any viruses or diseases from other plants. I use a cordless 19.2Volt
Craftsman reciprocating saw with a BLU-MOL Xtreme 12" Bi-Metal blade.
You can get the blades at Home Depot. I use the reciprocating saw for
the initial culm cut and any culm larger than 3/4". I use the lopper
for 1/2" to 3/4" cuts and Felco 2 pruners for the smaller work. I
really like the Felco 2 pruners. They last and stay sharp for a very
long time. Cheaper pruners will result in bad cuts.
Next, let's get the pots ready. You should have about 6 - 8 pots ready
to go with fresh potting mix for each culm cut. I put a little Cypress
mulch in the bottom of each pot to help with drainage... about 1/2 inch
of the mulch, then fill the rest of the pot with the potting mix. I
don't fill the pot all the way up, I leave about 1/2 inch of space at
the top to make it easier to water. I now look over my clump and try to
find one - two year old culms. I want one that looks very healthy with
new growth in the branches. I cut the culm all the way to the ground,
just above the last node.
Now that we have our fresh cut culm, lets make the cuttings. I cut each
node with good branching about 3 inches above the node and 4 - 5 inches
below the node. I trim all the smaller branches very close to the node.
I leave one branch on the node and cut it back to just the last leafed
branch. I leave two or three leaves on the branch and then cut those
leaves in half. I drop the entire cutting into the rooting hormone
mix... and then go on to the next node. I generally don't use any nodes
that don't look healthy or have at least two or three branches. I also
don't use the smallest nodes at the very top of the culm (usually, the
last foot of the culm).
I usually get about 18 - 20 node cuttings from each 1 inch culm about
15 feet tall. Your result will vary depending on culm diameter and
height. After all the cuttings have been in the rooting hormone mix for
about 20 - 30 minutes, I put 2 or three in each pot. You should wear
gloves when sticking your hands in the hormone mix to retrieve the
cuttings. I put the cutting in the pot at an angle so that the
remaining branch is straight up and the culm is angled in the pot. I
leave the top part of the node just sticking up above the mix. After
you have potted all the cuttings, I drench the pots in the remaining
hormone mix and then water well.
The best thing you can do now is just put the pots in a well protected
place away from direct sunlight and wind. Water daily or as needed
making sure the soil does not stay soggy. Watering a little twice a day
is better than watering once a day and soaking. I use a seedling soaker
attachment on the hose to minimize soil movement when watering. Within
the first two months, you should see new growth. Be patient with
cuttings... occasionally, they take longer but you won't be
disappointed with the final product. Congratulations... you have just
done your first culm node cuttings.
If you live in an area with less heat or humidity, you will have to
modify your environment for the final cuttings. If you have trouble
with this method or are using a particularly hard bamboo, try two node
Author: Allen D. Aleshire 8/2006.
Growing Bamboo From Seed: I am using this site to document my success and or failure with raising bamboo from seed. (Seed came in today - 11/17/03)
I ordered Dendrocalamus Calostachyus and Dendrocalamus Hamiltonii seed
about two weeks ago. I purchased three clear plastic containers that
are 2' x 3' x 6" high. I used sand for concrete mix purchased from Home
Depot. I put about 3 inches of sand in each container. I did not cover
the containers, but I did place them in the garage with two grow lights
over the containers. I poured water in each container until I could see
water just barely standing above the sand in a few places. I put two
seeds together planting them in a rows about 3 inches apart. I started
misting the containers twice a day. I sprayed a general purpose
fungicide over the sand two times. (1st seeds came up
yesterday - 11/23/03) I noticed the first seeds coming up. Here
is a picture of the first seeds sprouting. You can click on the picture
to enlarge. 11/26/2003
Seeds continue to come up. Approximately 25% of the seeds from one tray
are up now. Here is another picture. You can click on the picture to
I now have 36 baby Dendrocalamus Calostachys. They continue to come up.
I found a new way to mist the bamboo. I was using a spray bottle. I
added a few drops of root stimulator and a few drops of SuperThrive to
the bottle. To mist more thoroughly, however, I now mist with a garden
hose and a special misting adapter. This puts out more water without
disturbing the soil. I was spending too much time each day trying to
get the soil moist with the typical spray bottle. I still use it for
adding nutrients. I continue to spray with fungicide once a week now. I
haven't had any seedlings die yet. I took some pictures of the bamboo
at this stage. The bamboo are now a little over an inch high. I use a
Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera to take all the pictures. Most of the
pictures on this site were taken with the Nikon. This camera works
especially well with close ups. Here are a couple more pictures. Don't
forget to click on the pictures to see a larger image. 12/10/2003
Update - There are now 54 seedlings in two of the containers. The third
container had Dendrocalamus Hamiltonii seed. I was told these seeds
were probably old and may not come up. They havn't come up yet. I found
yet another way of misting so I wouldn't have to use city water. It
mists the containers in about the same amout of time as the water hose
with misting attachment. I purchased a 2.5 pint FloMaster Home &
Garden Sprayer from Home Depot and am now using distilled water with a
few drops of Schultz Plant Food (10-15-10) with micronutrients. I am
now only misting once a day. I have still not lost any seedlings. The
tallest seedlings are about 7 inches high now. Most are in the 3 - 4
inch range. Some are only now popping up. Here is the latest picture -
don't forget to click on the image to enlarge. 12/15/2003
Update - There are now 57 seedlings. The tallest one is 8.5 inches.
Here is a picture... don't forget to click the small thumbnail to see
the image. 12/19/2003
Update - There are now 58 seedlings. The tallest one is 9.5 inches.
Having more and more problems with them being able to stand on their
own after watering. The weight of the water on their leaves bends them
over. The two white bamboo are still living. They are only 3 inches
tall. One shows some green in the latest leaves. I haven't lost a
single seedling so far. 12/26/2003 Update - I started
transplanting the bamboo from the seedling trays to pots. I can
definitely see the advantage of planting in sand. I used a large spoon
to "dig" up the seedlings to keep all the roots in place without
disturbing them. The sand helped keep everything in place. I used
containers that are slightly smaller than 1 gallon. I dipped the entire
pot with seedling into a 5 gallon mixture of fresh water, root
stimulator, and of course SuperThrive. The bamboo seedlings are now
anywhere from 3 inches to 12 inches. I am transplanting the larger
ones. I still haven't lost a single seedling, but one of the white
bamboo is starting to look pretty bad. The other white bamboo seedling
is showing some green in a new leaf. I only transplanted 7 bamboo
seedlings today to "test the waters". I put them outside for the first
time today. Author: Allen D. Aleshire 11-12/2003.
Dividing Pot-Bound Running Bamboo:
After propagating bamboo from seed and culm cuttings, I figured
the next step is to learn to do divisions from pot-bound bamboo -
specifically, Semiarundinaria Fastuosa "viridis". I ordered bamboo from
a mail-order vendor I have used a number of times now. James Bonner,
the owner, informed me that the Fastuosa was pretty container bound. I
saw that as an opportunity. James Bonner encouraged me to divide the
pot. I was afraid to do that at first because I was afraid I would lose
the investment I had in these bamboo. I was more comfortable just
putting them in the ground and waiting until I could get rhizomes from
the runners. I had already done that. Then, I remembered reading
somewhere that pot bound bamboo some times takes quite a bit longer to
do well. I remember Steve Carter from Brazoria mentioning that all you
have to do is cut the pot off the plant and then cut the bamboo in
half. James Bonner described the same thing.
I first cut the pots off the bamboo being very careful not to disturb
the rhizomes. I used two types of saws and pruners to do the job. I
tried to cut where I didn't see many culms. I used the pruners to cut
through the rhizomes that stuck out to make sure I made a good clean
cut. I didn't want to use the saw for the rhizomes. The process worked
great. I was very surprised to see that the almost all the rhizomes and
roots were on the outside of the clump. There was just dirt on the
inside. The bottom line is the cutting was very easy once I figured out
that the inside was very easy to cut... it was only the outside that
posed a problem. I then put the bamboo halves in a 38 gallon container
of water/root stimulator/SuperThrive. I love the SuperThrive and root
stimulator combination. It hasn't let me down yet. I left each half in
the mixture for about 10 minutes. From 4 pots, I was able to put 8
bamboo in the ground. I will let you know in about 6 months how the
runners are doing. You can see the pictures of the process and
components in the gallery or by clicking here. Author: Allen D. Aleshire 12/13/2003.