How to Propagate Clumping Bamboo

I grow a few types of bamboo but Bambusa oldhamii is my favorite. Soothing rustling of leaves, straight poles for building, source of mulch, fodder, erosion control, soil building, potential fuel are just a few of the uses. Oldhamii can grow up to 20m and is apparently fairly drought tolerant. I propagated a few old culms last year (they need to be at least 3 year old) – 80% of the cuttings developed roots but only 30% survived the summer.


Bamboo plants need a lot of water and nutrients during their first year and they like to have wet feet during our summers. Also the cuttings are prone to toddler damage… Surprisingly the one we planted in the mulch pit in the middle of nowhere survived. They get more sturdy and survive arid conditions better when they get established.

When one of the bamboos got wind damaged, I decided to propagate some more. Culms were cut to size with a hand saw, placed in pots (mix of compost and “chook enhanced” soil) and watered. This year I am going to keep them in the old kiddies pool so they get enough water. They are also away from little hands and cats bums. The trick to quicker root development is to water them through the top opening of the culm. They need to be watered daily and kept moist through the summer. 

Oldhamii shoots are bland and crisp. They are awesome in stir fries, curries, stews and asian dishes. Be aware though that they contain cyanide and need to be boiled for about an hour. The best way to control the spread of your plants is to eat all the new shoots 🙂 They freeze well and can be used as needed.

Same propagation techniques work on other clumping bamboos. Buddha’s Belly is going to be next.


About Barb Susac

Art - mainly mixed media, weaving and stained glass. Also adventures in permaculture and sustainability in the harsh reality of Western Australia. Seed saving, plant propagating, perennials, wildcraft and gardening.
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