Bamboo rooted in water (not the Lucky kind)

elizabethy(z10 NCal)August 25, 2005


I was gifted some bamboo that I cut stalks from rather than dig up rootballs (too hot, too many spiders, too lazy!)

Despite my doing this the wrong way, some of it (i put it all in different vases) is showing little signs of growth, either from the top or with little shoots/roots? at the bottom.

I really do want my bamboo to grow! What should I do now to keep it alive and well? Plant it? How? When? Thanks in advance for your help!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
webgator(9 FL)

Do you know what species? When did you put it in water?

Not to disappoint you, but most likely you are not seeing roots. It is possible the existing leaves and branching may still live for a short time, but will probably die. Even the tropical clumpers that I have had success with rotting from culm cuttings have taken sometimes months for roots to develop, and none that I experimented with in water ever rooted.

Besides, roots do not form out the bottom of the cutting like typical plants grown from cuttings but instead form from the node, which is the area where branching develops. This is also the same area you will see any new culms coming from. Never will you see new growth develop from the top unless it is again from a nodule area.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 7:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
elizabethy(z10 NCal)

after reading your post, i double checked and some of it really IS growing. i put it in water about a month ago. all the leaves withered within a week but several (not all) of the branches are showing growth at the "seams" between segments (nodes?). at the bottom (in the water) there are a couple of branches sprouting up and out of the main branch (again- at the 'seams') and, within the upper branches, there are several more growing and putting out leaves!

i don't know what kind it is. is there a place with pictures to compare to? i could narrow it down at least!

how can i keep this growth going and transplant to soil?


    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know the Latin name ...'multi-plex' something I think ... but a friend has a clumper and has had cuttings of it root in her garden pond in the past. She had taken cuttings and simply stuck them in her water garden for effect and some of it rooted.
I had taken cuttings of the same clumper and once home cut the long culms into foot long pieces and I simply stuck them in the ground. I must have stuck a dozen but only 3 took and of those one has grown gangbusters while the other two are so so. Both of the smaller are in 5 gallon pots while the big mama is in the ground.
I was told the key was to keep 'em wet so I'd guess your water rooting skeme has some hope.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bamboo_oligarchy(z8b SC)

As Webgator mentioned: getting roots is vital to long term success.

Continued growth after cutting is possible although in your case it seems to be perhaps unusually vigorous perhaps the culms (the canes or stalks) are losing moisture less rapidly in the conditions you have them in.

You need some nodes to be exposed to soil or a type of rooting medium as rooting usually occurs from the nodes. The nodes are the lines or bands that appear at certain intervals along the culms. The inter-nodes are the portions of culm that are not where there are nodes. They are in the middle of two nodes (except maybe at the tips or are portions where the culm has been cut). Very substantial hydration and watering is important to allow the cutting to survive the process of regaining a sufficient root/culm and foliage ratio however keep an eye out for signs of root rot (once the roots start forming) or overwatering causing roots to begin dying. Roots can take very long to form on cuttings though so it is probable that most leaves will fall off at some point and the culms will turn yellow or perhaps brown (there is still hope even if that happens though). If you have roots growing at present then you have a solid chance of success as long as you get the cutting planted in some type of medium.

I have only engaged in a small quantity of experiments with cuttings so this advice should be used with sufficient caution.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 3:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
webgator(9 FL)

Well if indeed you are developing roots and new growth has appeared from the nodes, here's what I would do:

1. Mix up a 50/50 combo of peat and perlite, wetting to the point where you can just squeeze water out.

2. Place cutting in pot, burying at least the first node half an inch.

3. Fill the open, exposed area of the culm with water.

4. Place in shady area and leave it be for a few months, keeping moist but not soaked. If you are impatient you can occasionally dig carefully around the culm to check for roots.

5. Successful cuttings will continue to show new growth and eventually roots will come out of the bottom of the pot.

Here is a propagation pic from this last Springs batch. Note the new shoot growing and mass of roots dangling from the node.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
steelhorse(z11 SoCal)


Whats the best season to try this method of propagation by cuttings?

I gave one vittata to my mother that is its 3rd. year and the newest shots are 1", and I was thinking to divide it to have one for me but after reading this I believe maybe I should try this method

what can you recomend me, divide or try cuttings?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 6:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
webgator(9 FL)

Hey steelhorse,

I would try taking some cuttings first. The beauty of it is you do not have to destroy the whole culm. You can use branch cuttings, cut off the upper sections of last years culms and use that for propagation material, or cut off one entire culm and use it for propagation material. Some have stated the upper portion of the culm roots best, though I cannot vouch for that.

As for time of year, the cutting in the picture above was graciously "donated" by one of our hurricanes last September. Of the 30 or so culm cuttings we planted about 20 rooted. I have also had good success with taking cuttings in March/April.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 12:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

webgator - I attended a session last year at the ABS conference where the instructor - Robert Saporito of Tropical Bamboo (I think) showed how he basically does the same thing you do, except to a living culm. He puts a soiless medium on a node and tightly wraps it up. In a few weeks, there are usually multiple new divisions that he simply rips off the culm and pulls them into separate divisions. Theres more to it than that but you get the idea and the culm remains alive and well. The key is apparently humidity, the California folks there said that they would only have a small window of time to do this while the FL people with higher humidity year round, can do this easier and more often.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 9:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
steelhorse(z11 SoCal)

Thanks for the prompt answer, and yes you're right
im better trying this up instead of dividing the whole plant..

I already carry one bamboo nigra dead on my history, that happened me because I tryed to divided it inmediately after it finished to send new shots and of course those new shots werent yet completely grown, now I know it wasnt the perfect time for the plant to be divided but well, that's how some of us are pushed to learn more about this beatiful plant

so, for me here in Mexico (near to Socal)our climate is hot but it will start to slow down a bit in sept/oct.. do you think I could have some succes if I plant some cuttings now or i better wait till march/april?

thanks in advance for your answer.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 2:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
webgator(9 FL)

Hey hoosier52,

I did that last year also by wrapping the node with aluminum foil then packing it with a moist peat/perlite mix. Much to my suprise it was successful, but I havn't done any of that since.

Steelhorse, being that you said it was Vitatta, that species is fairly easy to propagate...I say go for it! The branching is fairly long so you could easily trim that up and and even cut a few segments of culm from the top and use that. If you are brave dissecting the whole culm and associated branching could easily net you 30 or more cuttings.

Either way you have nothing to lose by trying. My first year out of eight branch cuttings only one was successful. Last year I produced over 50 new plants!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi there,
Today a friend gave me some cuttings from her bamboo. A black bamboo and a realy tall one (I know this won't help much in figuring out the latin names). They are not full Culms, they are branches from the main culm. I have them in water, soaking with some compost juice for nutrients. It works much like miracle grow. As I am reading this post, I am wondering which action I should take. Should I trim the bottoms, dip in rooting powder and put in dirt imediately (one web page suggests this)? Wrap the base in a ball of p.moss and perilite with foil wrapping? Should I use string to tie it off with? Do I need to use foil, or is there something better? Should I leave them in water for a few days, weeks, months?
Once I had a "chunk" of bamboo in water in my window, it rooted. Then it whent into dirt. Now it is happy on the porch - or is it? Now you all have me worrying!

Thanks for the helpful info!!!!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 2:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Unfortunately, Black bamboo and other running bamboo cannot be propagated from branch or culm cuttings. This is only possible with some of the tropical bamboo. If you want to propagate these plants, you need a division from the rootball.

The "chunk" of bamboo you refer to was probably not real bamboo, but a houseplant marketed under the misleading name "Lucky bamboo"; true bamboo do not survive with their roots underwater.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 11:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually, my "chunk" of bamboo is real. It came from the Bamboo Sourcery in Sebastopol, CA. One of the gardeners and I were talking and I grabbed a "chunk" out of the trash heap, and now it is very happy on my porch (I checked with it, and she says she is very happy). It took almost 4 years to get to the size it is now, and it is still quite small.

I will try to keep them in individual pots, with perilite and p.moss, and wet with all of my tropical carnivorous plants inside. We shall see what happens.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

My apologies for impugning your bamboo! I'm presuming it must have been a tropical, and it wasn't in water for a long time. Do you know what species it is?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 3:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Strewth, all this talk of rooting and bamboo in the same sentence makes me want to shoot my culms. Has anyone had much luck with the timor(lako) or the java(atro) varieties when it comes to propagation and if so what was the desired method or just the one that did it for you...... it's a clumper...... but is it tropical??.... help me please.... Jim, Western Oz

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 12:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


They both are tropicals, but I'm not sure which is easiest to propagate gonsifering I have no expierience with Atro.

From what I have been told, Lako can definitely be propagated by division. Some people have had some luck propagating it from branch cuttings. Haven't heard of propagation by culm cuttings but I believe it is possible if it is w/ branches.

Sorry about the Atro, but I don't have any yet and have been looking hard to find some.

Experiment w/ them both. That is the best way because you will find out what definitely will work and what won't.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 6:25PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
privacy wall for freeway noise
Trying to comb through all the back log of message...
Thick Canes, Small Clump
Two months ago I got an issue of Florida Gardening...
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F
my new planted bamboo is dying.... I think
hey guys, this is Alex from Mexico, Baja, my zone is...
What is the DEAL?
Last autumn, I split off some young culms from my main,...
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F
Bamboo Resilience
Last spring I picked up a clumping bamboo from a plant...
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F
Sponsored Products
Allegretto Six-Light Pendant in Platinized Silver Leaf Finish
Black Bed Tent
$79.99 | zulily
Gardenfall Dark Copper 90" High Large Fountain with Light
Lamps Plus
Oushak Collection 8x10 Rust Red Pakistani Chobi Hand Knotted Wool Area Rug H7229
BH Sun Inc
Foil Undertone Blue Glass Ensemble BN/Hrdwr
Tommy Bahama Island Estate Veranda Outdoor Dining Chair, Patio Furniture
Bloomfield Copper Flower Tabletop Fountain
$39.99 | Lamps Plus
Travertine Links Rug 6' x 9' - TRAVERTINE/PURPLE
$1,499.00 | Horchow
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™