It took Jackie Heinricher and the scientists at Booshoot Gardens nine years to crack the bamboo code, but their research has led to the rapid propagation of bamboo through tissue culture, something no other company had done before.
Most of the world’s bamboo is grown in Asia, and despite the plant’s hardiness, it can be difficult to start a new crop from seed because of its infrequent flowering. The Booshoot method begins with cuttings from healthy bamboo plants, which are then sterilized and placed in a nutrient-rich gel of salts, plant sugars, hormones, vitamins and other nutrients to facilitate growth. By raising the plants here in the United States, Booshoot hopes to combat irresponsible harvesting practices and make bamboo more available to American manufacturers.
Booshoot started small, cultivating “bamboo that behaves,” or noninvasive ornamental bamboo for home gardens. It’s now expanding production to meet the growing demand for bamboo in textiles, wood products, soil stabilization and reforestation, which takes advantage of the bamboo’s ability to sequester four times as much carbon as a tree (bamboo is actually a kind of grass).
Heinricher’s research has given suppliers the option to purchase vigorous plants in a uniform size, and her stock may help to establish the first domestic agriculture market for bamboo. Booshoot has cloned more than 50 species of bamboo, and produces millions of plants a year.