Propagating Gracilis Bamboo – 101

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Dear reader, if you are after detailed instructions on how to successfully propagate Gracilis bamboo from cuttings, this is the link you are after: How to successfully propagate Gracilis bamboo from cuttings as I have managed to grow new Gracilis from cuttings after numerous trials. The instructions in this page were not that good and the rate of success was none.

Or you may like to read the entire dickhead neighbour story and ongoing saga at: this new site dedicated to stupid neighbours.

I have finally managed to successfully propagate my very own Bambusa Textilis var. Gracilis! I obtained some culms from a friend and I now have some leaves that have started to bud and very tiny root systems.

It is only fair that I share my findings, but I have to give a lot of credit to Shawn Gilbert who was absolutely instrumental in providing the key points to a successful propagation.

I have currently got a 40% success rate – but this was my first attempt using Shawn’s technique and I have to confirm it works! I am still a little unsure about the exact science as this bamboo has proven to be a difficult plant to propagate. I should also say I didn’t use root hormone (I was too busy cutting the bamboo like mad)

Here are the important points to note:

  • When you first cut the culms, put them in a bucket full of some type of richgrow liquid formula. I used “Seasol” diluted in water and soaked the culms for 2 to 3 hours (it is a seaweed fertiliser rich in nitrogen – grass loves nitrogen)
  • You must use old culms, the older the better
  • Try to find culms with a diameter larger than 1″
  • I found culms with large buttons at the nodes had a better success rate than nodes with no buttons (this is for the 2 node cuttings)
  • Water the culms every day (ensure that you fill the culm with water) for the first month and a half
  • Pick the right time… I planted my culms in the middle of May (Southern Hemisphere = winter)

I have searched the internet for bamboo propagation via culm cuttings and identified two types of cuts that can be used. One cut has 2 nodes, and the other cut only has 1 node and all of the branches coming out of the node have been cut back – all except for the main one (as per Shawn’s website).
It took 2 weeks for the first leaves to appear, but at the 1 month mark, tiny branches were popping out of the buttons at the nodes .

Single node cutting - new leaf is sprouting

Single node cutting – new leaf is sprouting (1 month mark)

Two nodes cutting

Two node cuttings – 1 month mark

Single branch at a single node

Single branch at a single node cutting – 1 month mark

More  branches popping out

More branches popping out

Small button at a node - ready to pop out

Small button at a node – ready to pop out (2 months mark)

Single node cutting with one branch. See the new leaf?

Single node cutting with one branch. See the new leaf?

Double node with branches appearing

Double node with branches appearing – 2 month mark

More double node cuttings

More double node cuttings

Few bamboo cuttings in one pot

Few bamboo cuttings in one pot

I also noticed the culms that stayed green after the 1.5 month mark would be successful as they had leaves pop out soon after.

We are now getting to the 2 month mark and I pulled one of the culms out to see if it had roots. The photos below show a thin, long and stringy roots.

Single node bamboo - no roots at the branch

Notice how the culm is still green even after 2 months in the ground?

Bud appearing at the on the single branch

Bud appearing on the single branch – note: there are no roots at single node.


I am going to leave the culms in the pots a couple of months longer and wait for spring to swing by.

Update: 19th May 2016 – these cuttings all dried and died after months of watering.

But this page: How to successfully propagate Gracilis bamboo from cuttings has instructions that actually worked!

7 thoughts on “Propagating Gracilis Bamboo – 101

  1. Kristen

    I work at a bamboo nursery. The cuttings do better around the edge of the pot with the nodes facing in. The warmth from the pot helps them grow. Also leave the main one long but the others about half an inch. They can be covered by the dirt but still suck up water. This time of year is a little late but if you keep them in the shade they should be good. Try to avoid splintering so they can hold the water. When you make the cutting place them immediately in water if not planting immediately. Don’t let them dry out. As many as you can fit in one pot the better. Almost every piece of bamboo has a chance of growing.

    1. Jan

      Does anyone have a foolproof guide for propagating Gracilis from cuttings?
      I also am not having much luck although I know it is possible.


      1. Henry Gomez Post author

        Hello Kristen,

        This is what I know about Gracilis propagation from cuttings:

        1) You need to keep the cuttings alive for as long as possible so they can develop their own root system to support themselves.
        2) The parent plant stocks starches and sugars as energy that it uses to grow new shoots. Apparently, I am told the best time to take cuttings is during a full moon (the day before), as nature takes its course and the gravitational moon’s pull on the earth causes sugars and starches to be drawn up into the parent culm.
        3) Some people soak the cuttings in liquid fertilizer for some time before they plant them in pots (and apply a generous dab of root hormone).
        4) Don’t keep the cuttings out in full sun or they will dry out too quickly, and don’t keep the cuttings soaked as they will rot.
        5) I fill the cuttings culm with water.
        6) The older the cutting, the better the chance of survival.
        7) The time of year is crucial – you can’t do this in winter. The climate must be hot and humid to encourage growth.

        I am currently trying out another batch of cuttings that I planted in November of last year and they have given leaves but haven’t died yet.

        Remember, all that bamboo wants to do is live and grow, just keep it alive for as long as you can and it should work. I am told that Gracilis has a 10% strike rate, and that it takes 4 weeks for new shoots to appear from cuttings. Based on my personal experience, I have waited 2-3 months before any tiny leaves appeared at the nodes, but then these gradually died over time.

        Keep persevering!


    1. Henry Gomez Post author

      Hi Anne,

      Unfortunately none of the cuttings survived. I have found a book from 1896 that discusses growing bamboo and I have a new information that I will be putting to practice next season…

      I’ll keep you posted.


        1. Henry Gomez Post author

          Cuttings were taken at the wrong time of year (i.e. not warm/humid enough) and wrong nodes used – based on the information I read in the book, there are only certain culm nodes that have the physical capability to grow roots. That’s why you hear people say they’re only getting a 10% to 40% success rate. This is the theory I have read so I will give it a try and come back to you later when I can successfully confirm I know how to propagate Bambusa Textilis Gracilis from cuttings.



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