Seeds, Rhizomes, Wood-working, etc.

FlizzopMarch 5, 2012

I have a few questions about bamboo. I bought 2 varieties of bamboo, both in seeds on ebay. I bought the moso and the nigra seeds. I am going to germinate them. When do I put them in the ground outside? I live in zone 7 and we get some snowy winters, will they be able to survive? Or should I make them a houseplant until about _______? Another question is, I am growing bamboo to teach myself another trade per se. I want to do wood working. When will the bamboo be big enough to chop down a few canes and start building with? I heard it could take a couple years.. if that is the case then, where can I buy some live rhizomes?

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Once you figure out how to sprout moso seeds, they are pretty easy to grow, and on the other forum, many people who bought nigra seeds ended up with some sort of grass instead. Here's my first try in growing moso seeds successfully.

They are not that hardy in the first few years but can get hardy enough to take zone 7 winters. They can get planted outdoors on their first year except all you'll need to do is tarp them over with a thick enough cover to hold in the soil warmth.

You should be able to find collectors close to your area where you can dig a few large divisions. Just try bambooweb forums. This time of the year is ideal for making a road trip to go for a dig, and large divisions with a huge root ball can give you much better results than starting from rhizomes.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 2:34AM
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Wow, they are beautiful! How long do you think it would take from seed, to get hardy enough to actually have some large shoots that I can build stuff with? The seeds should be in my mailbox anytime this week! That is, if I can get them to germinate, what did you do to make yours germinate? You had good success I see!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 2:53AM
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If you protect them well and they like your climate, then it will take around 7 years to harvest good sized canes. With z7 moso given you are around the Atlanta climate zone, I'll guess that they will go something like this y1:0.25 inch, y2:0.4inch: y3:0.75inch: y4:1.2inch, y5:1.75inch and so on.

I would suggest starting with the 1000 seeds for 12.99 bid since it's better to have plenty of batches in case you mess up. They do pretty well in the paper towel method as long as you don't have too much moisture in the paper towel and make sure the germination medium doesn't have chemical fertilizers in it meaning miracle gro potting mix won't cut it since they burn small seedlings.

If you go on bambooweb and find someone close with a grove of moso, you will most likely be able to get a dig from them, and a road trip is well worth it because you start out with much bigger culms which only upsize from there.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 11:56AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I've been growing bamboo for many years, and I also build things from bamboo culms/poles. However, I've rarely used my own culms for any construction projects because it takes many years to have ones that are useful for purposes other than garden stakes. In addition, when working with bamboo you want material that is properly dried...not just air-dried (as they often split if left to dry on their own), So, for my projects, I go to a supplier that has poles up to 6" in diameter that are imported from Asia and have been oven-dried.

As for buying on eBay, the seeds that are advertized are not always the species they are claimed to be. Bamboo rarely produce seeds, so it's not like buying carrot seeds for your garden...a particular species may take decades between periods of flowering and seed production. Also, bamboo seeds lose viability very quickly so you may get old seeds that are worthless. In any case, they need to go into the refrigerator if you are not going to be germinating them immediately. Lastly, it is a violation of Federal agriculture regulations to import bamboo seeds into the U.S. without a special permit and quarantine period. Many/most of the sellers of bamboo seed on eBay are located outside the country, so be aware that, if you purchases from these folks, you risk confiscation of the seeds at a minimum.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 1:27PM
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Interesting.. My first project will be an attempt at a bamboo bike, I just ordered my supplies.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 5:58PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Good luck with your bike; that is an ambitious first project. I've been woodworking for decades, but found working with bamboo to be challenging because it is not perfectly round in cross-section and the hollowness of the culm makes attaching fasteners that need to hold under stress a bit tricky. Please report back when you have finished the project.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:27PM
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