We had been searching for it for nearly a year, since we learned about it in Ecuador. Guadua bamboo (Guadua angustifolia and other species) is the giant bamboo species native to Central and South America. It is one of the strongest and best species to use for load-bearing construction and we wanted to find some to build with. We learned that it grew in Nicaragua and had been planning a trip to the Caribbean coast to investigate. Before we could make a trip though, we had a chance to get some seedlings and so ended up with 50 guadua seedlings ready to be planted.
One of the interesting things about guadua is that an individual plant only seeds once in its life. A plant lives to be about 100 years old, but if you propagate from cuttings, the parent plant and the cuttings will still live to the same age and then die. So, if your cuttings are from a 90 year old plant, they may only grow for 10 more years.
We received instructions to plant the seedlings in plastic grow-bags using 1/3 hummus,1/3 “tierra-negra” (black earth) and 1/3 local soil. I later found out that guadua needs drainage and it is better to also mix in clean sand (at a 1/4 to 1/3 ratio).
The seedlings like to be in the shade always and in moist (but not wet) soil. We stacked them under our big fig tree where direct sun never reached them. After about a week the green leaves turned brown and fell off- slightly disturbing. But then, after a couple weeks, new green leaves started to develop, but only on about 10 out of 50 plants. We’re not sure what happened, but perhaps the soil and grow-bags did not provide enough drainage for the seedlings and they drowned. Hopefully we can keep our 10 survivors alive until the rainy season when they will get planted strategically around the neighborhood near shady groves and streams. Our next expedition will be to the side Caribbean of Nica to stalk the wild guadua in its natural habitat- we’ll keep you posted.
Guadua under optimum growth condition (not what we have on the Nicaraguan Pacific coast- too dry), matures in 5-8 years, can grow up to 12cm (5″) per day and sequesters massive amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
Hopefully, one day we’ll get to this!