If you have your bamboo seeds readily available, they are easier to germinate if you sow them immediately. If the seeds have been in storage for quite a while, you may need to keep them in cold temperatures for some time to break dormancy.
If you decide to grow bamboo from seeds, here are the steps to follow to successfully grow them:
Step 1: Get seeds from a trustworthy source.
Make sure your seeds are viable and capable of propagating. The best way to find that out is to buy them from a reputable seller. If you’re buying overseas, you may need to check the law for transferring seeds between different countries to avoid being confiscated at the border.
STEP 2: Prepare your growing medium.
You may choose between a general-purpose peat/ compost or peat-free compost as your growing medium. I tried both mediums and I got the same results from both.
STEP 3: Fill your tray with compost
Using your chosen pot, fill them with compost and moisten them with water. Place the pot in the propagator or a mini greenhouse and let it sit for 24 hours with the required germination temperature of 20 – 26 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a propagator, you can shield the top of your pot with a clear plastic bag.
STEP 4: Soak the seeds
While warming up your growing medium, you can begin working on your bamboo seeds. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 12 to 24 hours. This process will help you determine the viability of the seeds. Those that sink to the bottom are viable and those that float are not.
Make sure that the temperature does not get too hot or it could kill your seeds. On the other hand, a colder temperature may delay the germination of the seeds. The right temperature for seed germination should be set at around 30 degrees C.
Space your seeds out on top of your warm compost at 1cm intervals and sprinkle a further fine layer of compost on top (approx 0.5cm is enough).
STEP 5: Place the propagator or greenhouse in a shaded location
Position your propagator in an area where it gets at least 12 hours of indirect sunlight. Do not place it in direct sunlight to avoid burning the bamboo seeds. Bamboo seeds also need adequate warmth of about 30 degrees C, so cover the propagator with a plastic lid to keep it warm.
You might want to try a grow light which can also provide warmth for your seedlings. If you’re using an incandescent light bulb, position it at least 24 inches away from your plants to keep them from burning. If fluorescent light, it can be placed just 6 inches away from the propagator.
STEP 6: Keep the moisture level and the seeds in check
Regularly check the propagator to make sure the compost is moist and does not dry out. Water the pots to maintain the right level of moisture but don’t overwater them. Of course, different bamboo seeds germinate at different lengths of time, so be patient. It typically takes 15 to 30 days for the seeds to fully germinate although you should see a few sprouts within 10 days from planting.
If the tops of the sprouts start touching the lid that covers the propagator, then you’ll need to take the lid off to avoid choking or damaging the sprouts.
STEP 7: Transplant the sprout seedlings
After about 30 days, you’ll see most of the seeds have transformed into healthy sprouts. Transplant all of them into bigger pots and add potting soil until it is halfway full. Then, fill up the rest of the pots with bark-chip mulch. This potting mixture provides quality drainage that is good for bamboo.
After moving each seedling into the pot, water them regularly. Because of the really good drainage, the seedlings need more watering.
Finally, place the pots in a shady outdoor location with just the right amount of sunlight. These seedlings are now well on their way and will have a good chance to grow and mature.