Bamboo is the tallest-growing grass popular as a construction material and an ingredient in Asian cuisine. If you live in the right area, could you make a profit growing bamboo?
Bamboo production is highly profitable in the long run but takes a long time to establish. When growing for profit, you can grow the grass for construction, food, or decoration. Each market has different demands and requirements.
It sounds like anybody can get into the bamboo-growing business. In this article, we’ll explore how much it costs, who to sell it to, and what types to grow.
Can You Grow Bamboo for a Profit?
Depending on the variety of bamboo, people will pay $30 to a couple hundred dollars for a single bamboo plant. Rarer and more ornamental bamboo plants will sell for more money, while bamboo used for construction sells by the pole.
Since bamboo is so easy to propagate, you’ll only need to purchase around a dozen plants during the first year. Separating ornamental or clumping bamboos is easy and technically free, but we recommend starting with runner bamboo plants because they spread the fastest and survive in more temperate climates.
If you plan to grow your plants from seeds, bamboo seeds are around $20 to $30 per 100 seeds. Even if only half the seeds germinate, that’s 50 plants times $30, which gives you an estimated gross revenue of $1,500. That’s not bad at all. As more species sell for more money, you can see that profit double or triple.
How Much Does It Cost To Start Growing Bamboo?
If you know what you’re doing, you can start a bamboo business for as little as $800. Your startup costs will mainly be the initial cost of the plants. Then, you’ll need to consider equipment such as pots, tilling the ground, a potential indoor nursery, and lots and lots of fertilizer.
If you’re in it for the long haul and want to focus on ornamental bamboo, another option is buying a single bamboo plant and letting it expand over your property. After the first few years, you can divide and propagate off that single $30 to $50 plant. That saves you the trouble of waiting for germination.
How Long Before Bamboo Creates a Profit?
Some bamboo plants take 5-7 years to germinate. These are the tall, thick culmed plants used in construction, household items, and crafts. But don’t worry – once those 5 years are up, the bamboo will continue to grow for up to 20 years, regardless of how many times you harvest it.
Once the plant germinates, you can have another 3-5 years for the plant to be fully grown if you don’t live in an area with a year-round growing season.
Who Buys Bamboo Commercially?
Who doesn’t? Bamboo is used in numerous commercial products that include but isn’t limited to:
- Pulp and paper
- Eco-friendly textiles
- Making kitchenware/rugs/household items
There are a few different ways to sell bamboo once it’s fully grown, and you may find people from across the world interested in purchasing your product. Here are three main ways to begin selling bamboo:
This is the good, old-fashioned way of selling your products. Interested buyers come to your property and check out what you have for sale. If they like what they see, they can pay you immediately. Some may even be willing to cut the plants down themselves to ensure quality.
This is an excellent opportunity to meet potential clients and get to know them. If you maintain good business relations, you may find yourself being contacted by people they’ve referred to you. Direct sales are the original form of networking.
Thanks to cell phones and the internet, we can sell anything just about anywhere. Order-in sales are when you post an ad online or post fliers, and someone calls or emails you and expresses interest in your product. Online payments have never been easier thanks to companies like Paypal and Venmo.
You will be responsible for delivering the bamboo by mail. Remember to factor in shipping costs when charging the buyer.
If you’re growing smaller or ornamental bamboo plants, reach out to any local landscaping companies. Bamboo is a popular choice for landscape designs because of its anti-pest properties. Before contacting any contractors, do your research.
How much does a bamboo plant cost from a local nursery? Can you entice the contractors to purchase from you if you give them a great deal without destroying your own profits?
Which Bamboo Species Should You Grow?
You should grow bamboo from the genus Phyllostachys if you’re looking for a tall bamboo that grows well in various climates. If you live in warmer climates, you’ll look for Bambusa or Dendrocalamus. We recommend researching these three types to get started:
One of the hardier bamboo species, it grows best in USDA zones 7-8 and can reach 60-70 feet tall. The plant will also grow well north and on the west coast but may only get 40-50 feet tall, as the chillier seasons will stunt its growth.
This species has extremely thick culm walls and is ideal for building. This is a cheap and hardy variety if you’re interested in selling bamboo to construction companies or contractors.
Also a thick-walled bamboo, this species grows in USDA zones 9-10. The poles can reach up to 80 feet into the air and become 5-6 inches in diameter. The plants run into trouble when the temperature drops below 25 F, so it’s not ideal for anyone north of Florida (unless you build a 90-foot nursery).
This species will grow from 50-80 feet tall and 4-6 inches thick. While the plant grows in tight clumps, it also has thick culms. This plant is last on the list because temperatures cannot drop below 30 F, as the bamboo is frost sensitive.
Growing bamboo can be highly profitable if you live in an area where the plant can thrive. For as little as $30, you can start growing the plants in pots or outside. While there is a considerable time investment of up to 7 years, the plants will continue to grow after each harvest for the next 20 years.