Timing of Moso planting from seed

triplebogey_2007October 28, 2009


I've read quite a bit about the planting of Moso, much of which has been highly beneficial. However, little of what I've read has discussed an optimal time of year to plant these seeds indoors. To that point, I have several questions:

(1) can these seeds be planted indoors in the fall, and nurtured in pots until the spring, or will this result in spindly plants that won't survive spring hardening outdoors?

(2) can a moso be grown entirely indoors like some of the ornamental bamboos sold at the megastores? It would obviously require pruning, but I'm curious.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Bamboo seeds -- when you can get them -- lose viability very quickly. Plant them immediately and keep them in a warm, light-filled location. Moso can be grown indoors, but, if you get any seedlings to sprout it will be several years before you need to worry about "pruning" them. I have Moso that I grew from seed and planted outdoors over 5 years ago, and they are about 5-6 feet tall in a warmer Zone than yours. And be aware that bamboo are not like trees or shrubs: anything you prune is gone for good and you will not get regrowth. All growth for a particular culm occurs in a several month period the year it emerges from the ground. It will not get taller or bushier or bigger in diameter from pruning.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Thanks Kudzu, good advice.

I'm new to the bamboo world so I'm open to any suggestions you might have. I chose the moso seeds because they're inexpensive, I like seeing my plants start from seed, and I'm looking to have a large bamboo at the front of my property. I have 5 acres and I'm not really concerned about the bamboo spreading out a bit. Between the creek in the rear of my property, my mowing zone, and the pavement I have, they should pretty much be boxed in. You said that you planted moso 5 years ago and they're only 5-6 feet tall??? Wow, I was expecting about 4 feet of growth per year. Is there another type of large bamboo that would do better in zone 7b or is this just par for the course when planting bamboo from seed? Also, the front of my property is high ground and very dry while the rear is low and usually damp. Would the bamboo do better in one location versus the other?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 10:37AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Most people don't grow bamboo from seed because bamboo flower only at great intervals (like 20-150 years). Therefore, you can't just decide on a species and expect to find seeds available. The size of my moso is not untypical for a plant grown from seed. When people buy bamboo, they are typically buying a division off of a mature plant. If you want to have a good size bamboo fast, you have to be willing to pay for a good size plant. Even then, a large bamboo planted in the ground will take 2-3 years before it starts putting up culms larger than the ones it had when purchased. And growth will only come from new culms. A culm will emerge as a shoot, reach its final height in a couple of months, and then stay that height until it dies...maybe 7 years or so. Larger culms will emerge once the plant is established and they should be somewhat larger each year until they reach whatever the maximum height is for that species in your environmental conditions. The maximum height for moso is 75 feet, but you'll never see that in the U.S. and certainly not in your Zone. If you get up to 30' in 10 years, you would be doing quite well. I don't mean to discourage you,...I'm just trying to give you a reality check and, answer your next question a year from now: What am I doing wrong, my moso is only 6" high?

Below is a link to some pictures of moso so you can see what the plant looks like at various stages. Good luck. Bamboo is a lot of fun, but if you want bigger plants you will need to buy some or get involved with trades to other bamboo collectors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Moso

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Its ok to plant moso seeds as long as you have a strong enough source of light so the flourescent light tubes should be strong enough if they are a couple inches away.

If you are interested in getting decent sized 1 or 3 gallon mosos, I'll be selling them after any danger of a freeze next spring.

Here's my moso at 3 years old. (yes they can grow in Z6)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 1:47AM
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hank11(8 Northern Ca.)

After having read this post and replies, I contacted a seller on e-bay and asked about the freshness of his seeds. His answer was "they are this years". That means they could very well be a year old. Does anyone know a source of moso seeds that truly are fresh?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 9:33PM
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Also note that it's illegal to import bamboo into the US without a permit. That applies to parts of plants (rhizomes) as well as seeds. The USDA regulates this.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 9:56AM
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