The valuable bamboo plant has many uses. It can be used to carry water, as building material, and to control erosion on riverbanks. But it is always in short supply. This is because bamboo is not usually cultivated by farmers. It just grows wild. Most types of bamboo grow shoots from underground stems called rhizomes. These shoots grow into tall above ground trunks.
If you want to propagate bamboo it is important to follow the correct method. Take cuttings from tall trunks in a clump that is not more than three years old. You will get the best results if you take cuttings from the middle part of the trunk. A trunk 10 metres high will give about four cuttings. Each cutting should have two full, undamaged internodes and a half internode. Apply a seal of moist clay to the top cut edge of the bamboo without covering the hole. The clay will act as a disinfectant.
Plant the cuttings vertically with the half internode above ground. Pour two cups of water into the top of the bamboo cutting. Keep topping up regularly until roots and green shoots develop at the nodes.
Do not delay planting as the cuttings are sensitive to shock which can result in poor germination or complete failure. Sandy to sandy loam soils are best for bamboo cultivation.
If you use longer cuttings with four to six internodes, plant them horizontally. Make a hole in the middle internode. Keep it filled with water until the nodes produce roots and new growth.
You can also take cuttings from aerial shoots that develop on the tall trunks. Cuttings must have at least two and a half internodes. Use either planting method.
These methods have been successfully used in to propagate yellow bamboo which is needed in rural communities. These methods can be used to establish community forests or in reforestation programmes. Let’s keep growing bamboo.
By Mr. D.C. Nanayakkara, Coordinator, Rural Resource Centre, Sri Lanka