Growing bamboo from seeds?

sagolover(10a SoCal)September 10, 2013

What's your opinion about growing bamboo from seeds? I know seeds are rarely available and it can take a while till you get a nice size bamboo. At the same time, aren't the seedlings stronger than the mother plant? Also, are they always different than the parent?

I'd like to start Phyllostachys Edulis or one of its varieties but seeds are so hard to find. Is it worth the work though, or just look for already grown plants and buy those?

Mima

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I've grown bamboo from seed. It's an interesting experiment, but it will take you up to 5 years to get a plant as tall as you are. The physical characteristics of a new bamboo plant grown from seed may be different from the plant it came from...or not. Plants grown from seeds are not stronger than plants that result from taking a division.

Two other things:
1) Bamboo seed viability is typically several months, so it's good to know how fresh the seed is when you procure it.
2) You can get bamboo seed from eBay, but be aware that, if you purchase it from someone outside the U.S., you risk confiscation of it and/or a visit from USDA agents, since it is illegal to import bamboo plants, roots, or seeds into the U.S. without a permit and quarantine that you must pay for.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 7:55PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Thanks for your response kudzu9.

I had no idea there's a ban on importing seeds or live bamboo. Anyway, I don't order seeds or live plants from outside the country. I always try to order as close to home as possible because it's a shock for the plants to travel too long, and even the seeds can be damaged in longer transportation. I've found US sellers on eBay that have bamboo seeds but they all have only a few types of seeds available. Does ABS have seeds available for sale? I'm not a member... yet, but maybe next year who knows.

I am not afraid of how long it could take because there's always the possibility to buy live, bigger plants. I'm growing Plumeria seedlings now and although I know they can bloom in 3 years or more (rarely less than 3 years), it's still rewarding to take care of them. I'm even thinking of starting cycads from seeds (my other plants I grow besides plumies) but they are really sloooow as they are, I think from seeds I will leave them on my will to my grandkids LOL.

So I could order some seeds from the US sellers on eBay. What do you think is better to do: start the seeds now or next spring? And if I want to get another type of live potted bamboo, is it better to wait until spring? Does it have enough time to get established before winter comes?

My son is fascinated by bamboo and has been very into bamboo since he was younger. Now he wants to grow his own bamboo and maybe if it gets bigger, to craft some nice stuff out of it. But he loves bamboo as it is, just to have it around and enjoying its lush, green beauty. :)

Mima

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:03PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

There are only a few types of seeds available at any time because humans can't control when bamboo flower and produce seeds...some do it only once every 150 years or so. I don't know of any seed seller that routinely has seeds available, and the ABS doesn't sell them.

I mentioned the ban on imports because many of the seeds I've seen offered on eBay are from foreign sellers. If you are ordering seeds, waiting until next spring to plant might mean that they have lost viability, so plant them as soon as you get them, whenever that is, because they could already be old seeds. I've started mine in seedling trays, not in the ground.

Since you are in Southern CA, I don't think the timing on putting larger plants in the ground is a big deal, as your winters won't be a threat to most bamboo.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 12:25AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I know about bamboo flowering, isn't this an interesting fact about it?

I have all my plants n pots until we can get a bigger place, so the bamboo will go into pots too. I started seeds in trays too and first batch had 100% germination rate. Then... well... I don't know what happened, maybe the seeds weren't all fertilized, because they were all very fresh, a matter of days fresh.

Anyway, love starting seeds, so I'll follow your advice and start them right away when receiving them. I know we have mild winters here (I'm in zone 10a) but maybe after sprouting, I will move the bamboo indoor too since they will be young seedlings. How long does it usually take for bamboo seeds to sprout?

Thanks for all the advice.

Mima

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 1:34AM
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stevelau1911

Bamboo seeds should be much cheaper on aliexpress than eBay, but if you are in zone 10a, you may want to try some tropical clumping types too, especially something like the dendrocalamus giants.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:18AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Depending on the species, it could typically take anywhere from 2-4 weeks for germination to occur. However, I do know of one instance where it took 9 months.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:22AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I am still waiting for some very fresh seeds of Madagascar Palm to sprout. It's been a couple of months... I don't grow palms but they were a gift and I'm very interested in seeing how they will turn out. I hope they will not need a gestation period LOL.

Stevelau,I will try that place too, thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:40AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

No luck on aliexpress: all bamboo seeds listed there are located in China. Good prices but USDA doesn't allows us to get bamboo seeds from outside the US.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:51AM
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stevelau1911

You can still get the 1000 seeds from aliexpress, and rarely anyone gets caught for it. If you are worried, you can probably get a friend to buy it for you, and then give it to you to grow.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:00AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I don't know, I never did something that had the risk to be caught for. And then, why other person would want to risk that? Anyway, 1000 seeds is huge, I don't need that many, and I never ordered plants/seeds from out of country, only domestic. :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:16AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

What would be a good germination mix for bamboo seeds? Is coir good for them? Is the germination mix different than the potting mix when seedlings are transplanted in individual pots?

I also have a question that might sound... dumb: when planted for germination, bamoo seeds are placed each one at a distance from the others or they can be just "tossed" on the germination tray even if some of them will be more crowded than others?

Mima

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 2:27AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Don't over-think this. Any potting soil will be fine as long as it's kept moist. As for the germination tray, I have used one with 50 cells and put one or two seeds in each. If you scatter them, make sure they are covered by about 1/4" of soil and don't worry about the spacing.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 2:40AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Thanks kudzu9! I was thinking about not caring much about spacing because they look like those type of seeds that could be just scattered and do well but on the other hand I was being concerned on what would happen with their roots if they will be too crowded on a square inch. I think I was overthinking it, as you said. :)
Thanks for your response.

Mima

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:45PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

If you get them to sprout, the roots will not be very spread out at first, so transplanting them individually when they are a couple of inches tall is not a problem as they are unlikely to be entangled.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 1:52PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I see. that's good to know! So no worries about germinating them but about where to find seeds now.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 11:49PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Still about the seeds:
Is hard if not almost impossible to find Dendrocalamus seeds, for example the strictus and asper ones. Even finding live plants for purchase is difficult. Any ideas where to find them?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 2:21PM
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kentuck_8b(__)

I grow D. asper, strictus, and a few other Dendrocalamuses and none have ever put out seed or bloomed, but if any ever do, I'll let you know.

Other than that, you may post around the internet and see if someone has seeds available.

Kt

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:25PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Thank you much Kt! Maybe I should just look for divisions of mature plants instead.

Mima

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:43PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

The idea of digging around to see maybe somebody has some fresh seeds to spare would be good too.But does anybody have any experience with growing Dendrocalamus form seeds? Is it difficult? Maybe too sensitive or something? Just curious.

Mima

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 9:24PM
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kentuck_8b(__)

My D. strictus/calostachyus is from seed but I did not plant it. It was traded to me by another bamboo grower.

I've grown a few varieties from seed and it's not real hard, but I think the trick is to get fresh seeds and plant them immediately.

Kt

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 4:31PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Got it. Hope to find some fresh seeds with domestic growers/nurseries.
Thank you, Kt.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 8:08PM
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