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I have been harvesting and processing bamboo for crafts (mainly household items) and am interested in rattan, which is more flexible than bamboo and can be used where otherwise one might use plastic rope.

Is rattan something that can be grown and harvested in a garden (temperate to tropical climate)?

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    If you add the 'gardening' tag to your question then it will automatically appear in the Gardening SE chat room and perhaps you'll get some answers from the people there as well. – THelper Jul 12 '13 at 7:34
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To grow and harvest rattan in a garden, there are several aspects to consider, which are related to the care needed to cultivate and grow a healthy crop, including soil, conditions and especially space considerations - these are all outlined below.

According to the document Rattan: production and processing, the first and foremost consideration is to select land that is similar to the plant's natural habitat, which according to the article, should contain characteristics of tropical and swampy environments. Rattan does okay as either a mixed crop or as a single crop in fire-cleared land.

The article advises that it is best grown following these steps (summarised below):

Sowing

This can be done in a small hand made nursery, where large and small seeds should be spaced with spacings of 5cm and 2.5cm respectively, in humus rich soil - the authors advise adding sawdust. The seeds should be planted to a depth of 10cm an watered lightly.

Germination is best done in partial shade - which the article suggests can be achieved by palm leaves.

Transplanting

After several of the leaves open, about 2 months after germination, the seedlings need to be:

  • watered
  • placed in polyethylene bags, 2 thirds full of the same soil as they have been sown in.
  • placed in pots, that will need to be tended to for watering and weeding.

Replanting

To grow properly, rattan requires full sunlight and climbing support, the article advises that replanting should take place in the wet season. When replanting, care must be taken to not damage any part of the plant - the plant needs to be planted in a hole 20cm wide and 30cm deep, in a 7m by 3m cropping pattern.

All going well, the rattan will be ready for harvesting in 5 years.

Harvesting

The article authors advice that caution is needed when harvesting, to prevent (as much as possible), insect stings and snares from the plants themselves.

The criteria for rattan ready for harvesting are:

  • The skin colour has turned brown;
  • The thorns on the stem and the leaves are drying out and beginning to fall;
  • Flowers or fruits have already appeared;
  • The stem is more than 20-25 cm long

A key aspect of harvesting is to always cut the shoots 10cm above the ground, cut off the crown and cut to size, bundle it up and you're there.

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