- Dig a hole that’s a bit larger than the size of the rootball.
- Set the plant in the hole so that the soil with the plant is even with the level of the existing soil. Planting too deep will choke the rootball: it needs air.
- Backfill with existing soil mixed with a rich topsoil or manure compost. Make sure that there are no air pockets around the root ball.
- Water well and often but do not keep your bamboo's roots constantly submerged in a boggy swamp . Good drainage is important - deep waterings, no standing water after a few hours, is your goal. If the leaves start to curl, your bamboo is not getting enough water. If the leaves stay open but the majority are yellow, the roots may be drowning and rotting. This is rare - not enough water during establishment is, by far, the most common problem. You will have to water daily for at least a month to insure the roots become established in the existing soil. Bamboos are among the easiest plants to grow so you should have no problems.
- Add mulch around your bamboo and always maintain a good layer of mulch. Fertilize every three or four months with a palm, bamboo or grass fertilizer.
Maintenance / Care
There are four conditions that optimize the growth of Bamboos: Sunlight, regular irrigation, good drainage, and at least occasional fertilization. If any of these conditions is lacking, the growth rate will be affected in direct proportion to the deficiency.
We have several groves around our home (all of which do not have rhizome barriers), and the only time they need our attention, is in the spring when we look for new shoots from our running bamboos. The lawnmower works excellently, as does just kicking with your foot, they snap off, like a large fresh stringbean. In comparison to our rhodos, azeleas & other ornamentals (not to mention our rose garden!) our bamboo groves are carefree.
Most bamboos grow quicker and do their best in full sun. As long as at least four hours of sun reaches the leaves, your bamboo will be happy. If grown in broken light or partial sun, the number of shoots per year will not be as high as if it were in full sun. Some bamboo species will stretch - elongating its internodes - if grown under the canopy of another tree in an effort to reach the sun. These bamboos have culms that have been measured much longer than their standard ABS listing.
When you first plant your bamboo you will need to make sure that it has enough water every day for at least a month or so. This means you may have to hose soak it if you irrigation system only hits the area every other day or less often. Even if your irrigation system covers the area daily, watch the leaves of your new bamboo. If they start to curl, the bamboo needs more water. This is easily the number one problem reported by new growers. I certainly don’t want you to keep your bamboo in standing water but please make sure it gets off to a good start with a bit of early watering diligence.
The most important part of your bamboo plant is under ground. The rhizome and root system will not survive if planted in muck or boggy conditions. Good drainage is important. If necessary, build up a small berm and plant in this area so that excess water can drain into lower areas.
FERTILIZING and MULCH
New bamboos can be fertilized with a balanced lawn or, especially, palm fertilizer. After the first year, higher nitrogen formulas can be used. Iron supplements are beneficial. If your soil is somewhat alkaline, there are many sulphur/iron mixes (granular or liquid) that work well and show favorable results quickly. Don’t use a weed-n-feed lawn fertilizer.
Compost and mulch are the easiest way to maintain healthy soil and bamboos. If your mulch is fresh and uncomposted, fertilize before mulching. The microorganisms that break down the mulch will rob the nitrogen from the soil so you’ll have to feed them as well as the bamboo.
After the second year you can remove some of the original growth. Do not take more than 1/3 of the culms. Cut out only the old culms (usually the smallest in the clump). Cut them near the ground (even just below ground to eliminate any small stumps). If a culm is tan, it’s dead and should be removed. We use a small handsaw or sometimes a reciprocating saw. You can thin the clump each year. Avoid removing the newest culms unless they are growing awkwardly or into an unwelcome area. You can also remove or shorten branches to reveal the canes or to create a more open effect. I do this with all of my low-branching species as a personal preference.
If you’re planting several bamboos to create a screen, hedge, or windbreak, the spacing will vary depending on the species, density required, and the speed required for establishment.
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