Where can I buy bamboo seeds to grow my own bamboo plantation? This is a popular question but enthusiasts who are just starting to learn about bamboo, are often not aware how rare and difficult it is to obtain bamboo seeds for propagation.
Most bamboo species flourish in very unpredictable cycles of 30-100 years (?), in addition, some bamboo species all flower at the same time (which can spread over an entire continent, some even say all over the globe). This is called Gregarious flowering; simultaneously flowering off all the bamboos of a single clone spread over a large geographical area. In case of Guadua bamboo, seed setting is usually (not always) followed by the death of the bamboo clump, which is called Monocarpic; plants that flower and set seeds only once and then die.
Gregarious flowering generally progresses in waves for a period of 2 to 3 years from one end of a forest to the other. This is a trick of nature to prevent that the entire bamboo forest area is dead after the bamboos have flowered.
There is almost no scientific literature about bamboo seeds available (if you know of a source, feel free to share it in the comments area at the bottom of this page), so what you read here is based on our empirical hands-on experience and observation. Isn't this how science starts anyways...?!
Since the beginning of July 2008 local farmers, in the Northern Atlantic zone of Nicaragua, reported us that bamboo seeds were falling of the "trees". In the beginning it was just a little bit, in 2009 it got massive! Not only was it massive, but the quality and quantity of "good" seeds was going up (a large percentage of empty seed shells are produced by the bamboos, probably to mislead birds).
The strength, vitality, grow speed of the Guaduas that were born in 2009 was almost double of the ones in 2008. If we had about 6,000 - 7,000 good seeds from a 1kg bag in 2008, we now had between 15,000 and 20,000 of them in 2009 ... and the quality of the new bamboos were just amazing. That made us think that it was the last and final seed bonanza before the bamboos started to die slowly. Strangely enough, new bamboo shoots were still emerging from the seeding mother bamboos (?) , just as if nothing happened ...
Just before bamboo seeds are ripe, they produce some sort of milk color liquid with a specific odor. This seems to be a call out to all rats and parrots to announce an "all-you-can-eat bamboo buffet"!!! In other words all seeds that were not collected, or these animals didn't eat, grew in big green bamboo carpets under the mother culms. To prove how powerfully these Guadua seeds are, just look at the pictures below from seedlings we collected in the Northern Atlantic forests of Nicaragua. These bamboo seeds showed a very high germination percentage between 95 and 100 percent (in 2009).
Preferably, bamboo seeds should be cleaned and sown right after collection. It is reported that cleaned seeds can be stored for 6 months or even more than a year through special storage techniques such as controlled moisture and low temperature. However, the germination capacity of bamboo seeds looses gradually after 2 months if it isn't stored with proper ventilation for seed respiration, controlled temperature, etc.
Attention: Please do not inquire for Guadua bamboo seeds! We do NOT sell seeds, only plants grown from seeds. Thank you!