Growing Seeds

Please read the seed germination records and see the photos (showing germinating seeds) in the Bamboo Seeds Catalog.
  • Seeds: You can use seeds of most species as they arrive; there is no pretreatment (stratific­ation) needed, and it is not needed to remove the bracts covering the seeds. Set seeds flat on the medium, slightly press them down, don't press them deep or underground, don't cover the seeds with the medium, or cover the seeds only a little bit.
  • Soaking seeds in water: Before setting on a medium, seeds can be soaked in handwarm water for several hours. We cannot confirm that this procedure is definitely needed. This might be recommended when seeds stayed for some time, or are longer stored, in regions of low atmospheric humidity.
  • Growing media: Moistened coir dust 100%, and moistened tissue paper, have turned out to do well with all bamboo seeds tested for germination. Media should never get wet, never dry out! Other suitable media are Sphagnum species (peat moss), and Perlite Perligran (both not available in Thailand). Peat is also recommended (available in Thailand, but expensive as compared to European countries, where it is easily obtainable). Mixtures of all these media are suitable, best with using rough sand. Long coir fibre is also recommended (can be mixed with coir dust), but only when growing each single seed in its own pot, as separating seedlings later would turn out to be im­possible. Cotton-wool ball was recorded having used successfully as a medium, but we have no experience with it. Possible as media are humus and garden mould, or plain soil, but are not recommended except for sowing outdoors.
  • Sterility: The growing medium should be sterile. You might consider to treat it with a pesticide and fungicide a few days before using for growing seeds, or you put the pot with medium into a microwave for 2 minutes. Cleaning pots with a 8-hydroxy-quinoline sulphate solution is recommended, e.g. as Chinosol® W in the form of a wettable powder, or Chinosol® in tablet form (1 tablet 1 gram dissolved in 1 liter soft water). Seeds should be washed with soft water and can be soaked 1-2 hours in a Chinosol® or Carbendazim (Carbendazole) solution.
  • Pots: Any type of plant growing container or pot can do, if it is tall enough and with holes on its base. Easy for handling are plastic pots of 12-20 cm height. Fill the pot with the growing medium about 10 cm high. Taller pots and higher growing medium than 10 cm are also very suitable as the bamboo root system develops rapidly. The pots can be covered with a transparent, thick plastic foil to keep the moisture constant for the first two weeks (if you can't provide high humidity otherwise, e.g. in a greenhouse with high humidity). The pot, if with holes on its base, can be set on a plastic foil, or on a coaster, which keep the bottom moist (add water if necessary from time to time, less than 1-2 mm high). Instead of pots, plastic boxes with transparent cover are suitable (e.g. food containers), especially if one uses tissue paper or coir dust as a medium.
  • Atmospheric humidity: High humidity is important, at least until coleoptiles have emerged. You might cover the pots with transparent plastic, but be careful about fungus. You might need to spray a fungicide and care for soft ventilation. Spray with a Chinosol® solution (1 tablet 1 gram dissolved in 4 liter soft water), or Carbendazim (Carbendazole) solution.
  • Light: diffuse, no direct sun. In Thailand, we need to grow seeds in a light-shady place; shade cloth is often needed to protect a greenhouse from too much direct sunlight.
  • Temperature: Much depending on species; in Thailand we have to take care that temperatures don't rise to high (especially in a green­house). In northern and southern hemispheres, room temperature or a somewhat higher temperature might be suitable for most species. In Thailand, one should avoid temperatures higher than 30 °C. However, we have not observed that a short peak temperature (for a few days) higher than 30 °C would harm seed germination process, but it could later harm developed seedlings of species from temperate regions (Fargesia, Chimonobambusa, Phyllostachys).
  • Transplanting: Seedlings can be transplanted any time after germination. If early transplanting is needed, best time is while coleoptiles are still developing, or just when the first leaf has developed, or somewhat earlier. If late transplanting is wanted or needed, best time would be when a second shoot has emerged from the ground, after two to three months. We usually transplant seedlings when the first leaf has fully developed.
  • Special seed treatment of certain bamboo species: The afore­mentioned seed treatment is recommended for most bamboo species. However, seeds of certain bamboo species are more difficult in initiating and keeping germination process. These seeds need special attention, and a rather fungus-free and pest-free environment. See recommendations below.
  • Seeds of Chimonobambusa (Qiongzhuea, Oreocalamus), Neosinocalamus (e.g. Neosinocalamus affinis, syn. Bambusa emeiensis), and Lingnania (L. cerosissima, L. distegia), are so-called "wet" seeds as they need to be kept moist to keep their viability. Also, Chimonocalamus seeds germinate easier when they have been stored moistened. Viability of the aforementioned species is rather short. Under normal atmospheric conditions, these seeds will be viable about 1-3 weeks, or one to two months under very low temperatures above freezing point. Viability of Chimonocalamus species lasts somewhat longer. As the seeds have to be kept moist when being sent, they easily get some mildew. Do clean/wash them upon arrival several times and alternating in clean, soft, warm (39-44 °C) water, and in a fungicide solution (5 gram Carbendazim in 2 liter clean water). Then soak in a fungicide solution for 1-2 hours, and sow immediately. It might be better for these seeds to be buried (one seed-size deep) in the medium, instead of being laid on the surface and slightly pressed down, but we don't have comparable test records.
  • Schizostachyum funghomii and S. pingbianense are difficult to get germinated, while Schizostachyum chinense (Leptocanna chinensis) germinates easily. We received the following recommendation of seed treatment for these two species: 1. Soak the seeds in 43 °C warm water for 2-3 hours, then in cold water for 36 hours and change the water every 8 hours. 2. Mix 5 g Carbendazim into 2 liter clean water, then add 3 ml pesticide and mix up, add 0.5 g Gibberellic Acid (GA3) and mix up; soak the seeds in the mixed liquid for 1-2 hours before sowing. 3. Sow the seeds in pest-free and disease-free medium (sandy loam or loam); cover the seeds with 1cm of the medium.
Other bamboo seed growing instructions: WikiHow.