Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget

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Transcript Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget

Growing Bamboo
Selecting, Planting and Caring
LeBeau Bamboo Nursery
Why Use Bamboo in the Landscape?
There are well over a thousand species of bamboo
Hundreds of those species grow in Southern Oregon
and provide a wide variety of traits.
Bamboos vary in the colors of their culms, styles of
leaves, habit, and size.
Bamboo species also vary in their spread - runners and
Multiple Cane Colors and Patterns
Left to right: Phyllostachys bambusoides Castillon Inversa, Phyllostachys vivax Aureocaulis, Phyllostachys nigra
Leaf Sizes, Colors, and Variegation
Sasa kurilensis Shimofuri
Three species with various leaf sizes and colors
Size - Groundcover to Timber
Clumping vs. Running
Fargesia nitida - Clumper
Phyllostachys aureosulcata Spectabilis - Runner
Bamboo Can Be Used In Many Situations
With so many different characteristics across so many
different species and varieties, bamboo can be a
central part of a landscape in many different situations
and environments.
Growing beautiful bamboo requires the selection of the
correct variety.
Selecting the wrong variety usually yields an unhealthy
plant, but can also result in a (quickly) disappearing
Getting Started - Plant Background
Before getting started with bamboo, it’s important to
recognize that it grows differently from most other
woody plants.
A grove of bamboo is actually a single plant, with each
cane connected through an underground network of
The older canes pool their resources to generate new
Bamboo Structure
Diagram showing the structure of
a leptomorph rhizome.
all can
to at
which cancan
in about
new rhizome
and willornever
increase its height again.
Bamboo Structure
This structure is referred to
as a pachymorph rhizome.
A pachymorph rhizome
produces a single shoot at
the tip instead of multiple
shoots along its entire
length, like a leptomorph
Each rhizome can still
produce multiple rhizomes.
Bamboo Structure
“Clumping bamboo” refers
to species that have
pachymorph rhizomes with
short necks.
Some species which,
although they have a
pachymorph structure, are
still runners because the
rhizome neck is elongated.
Getting Started - Determine Use
The second step in selecting the right species is
determining what you will use bamboo for in your
- The most common use for bamboo is to create a
fast-growing privacy hedge.
- Large groves add a tropical look to the landscape.
- Smaller plants make excellent garden specimens.
Bamboo Privacy Hedge
Chusquea culeou (five plants in a row)
Large Groves
Phyllostachys vivax grove, about 30 feet tall after five year’s growth
Specimens in Landscapes
Fargesia robusta
Fargesia sp. Jiuzhaigou 1
Getting Started - Determine Environment
Each species of bamboo thrives under different
conditions. The primary factors to consider:
- How much sun, and at what times, does the location
- Is the soil loose or compacted?
- Is the area watered often? Is there seasonal high
- What is nearby, such as other plants or buildings,
that you might want to keep visible or hide?
Getting Started - Plant Characteristics
Because of the wide variety of species, you can decide
what traits you want your bamboo plant to have.
- Maximum height: do you want to block a neighbor’s
two story house, or block a fence and still let light in?
- Spread: is there space for a runner or do you need a
- Habit: some plants are upright while others are
weeping and flowy.
- Branching: leaves all the way to the ground may be
necessary for a hedge, but having canes exposed
might look better.
Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget
Many people are drawn to bamboo because of its fast
Most species will reach maturity (even timber
bamboos) in about ten years from a small plant.
“If one man can carry the plant, it will take ten years to
establish a grove. If it takes ten men carry the plant, it
will take one year.”
To balance patience vs. budget you can play with
starting size and spacing between plants.
Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget
Sample one, two and five
gallon containers of bamboo.
Generally, the one gallon
plant will take four years to
reach ten + feet in height.
The two gallon plant will take
two or three years to reach
ten + feet in height.
The five gallon plant will take
one year to reach ten + feet
in height.
Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget
Ten and fifteen gallon Phyllostachys nigra plants
Getting Started - Immediacy vs. Budget
25 foot tall Phyllostachys vivax plant ready to start an instant grove.
Getting Started - Selecting The Variety
The best way to begin selecting a bamboo variety is to
view mature groves together.
You can also search through various species online.
The American Bamboo Society ( has
a species list which is searchable by trait.
Our website ( lists many
species that we’ve found to grow well in Southern
Oregon with descriptions and pictures.
Getting Started - Purchasing
The best plants can be found at specialty nurseries, but
the prices are usually a little higher.
Healthy plants usually have multiple canes, some
which are new since the division (these won’t have
dead portions of branches).
Plants should also have developed roots around the
edge of the pot, but they also shouldn’t be too root
Getting Started - Site Preparation
Dig holes several inches deeper and about twice the
width of the container.
Digging the hole in a larger diameter will encourage
faster growth and coverage if a hedge is desired.
This is the best time to decide which containment
methods you might need (if you have a running
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Unless you have the space and energy to dig up plants
around the edges of the the grove, runners should be
contained using one of several methods.
Some natural barriers will contain bamboo, such as
creeks. Rhizomes will rot in very wet conditions and so
cannot cross a body of water.
Frequently used gravel driveways will contain nontimber bamboos, but pavement or sidewalks will not.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
To some extent, dry land will also contain runners.
If some areas are well watered while others are not,
bamboos will spread into the watered areas instead of
the dry.
However, because of the resource sharing through
rhizomes, the plant will be able to send water into the
less desirable areas to allow for growth. You need to
have access to the dry areas to severe and remove the
rhizomes that spread in those directions.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
The best containment
method is plastic barrier.
Barrier is 30 inches in height
and is buried 28 inches into
the ground.
The shallow rhizomes hit the
barrier and follow its length,
similar to plants in a pot.
Rhizomes will not go below
the barrier except in very
loose soil.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Two inches are left
above ground to help
prevent rhizomes from
escaping over the top.
Twice per year the
barrier needs to be
checked for cracks or
rhizomes going over the
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Not enough barrier was left on top. A clipped rhizome
that had crossed the barrier.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
A trench 8-10 inches
deep can be used in
place of plastic barrier.
The rhizomes stay near
the surface unless they
hit something solid, such
as barrier, which can
cause them to dive
deeper. Therefore, 28
inches is needed for the
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Inspect the trench in the
fall for rhizomes which
have crossed through.
Cut the rhizome and
remove the portion that
has gone past the
trench. Cut rhizomes are
generally easy to pull out
if they aren’t too old.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Another method of controlling spread is keeping
bamboo in containers.
Containers allow the plants to be moved later if
Keeping containers about four feet apart will create an
effective privacy screen.
If the containers are shorter than 28 inches, rhizomes
might escape through drainage holes. Keep the
containers on wood or concrete that won’t allow the
rhizomes to find their way underground.
Getting Started - Containing Runners
Bamboo in containers need to be potted into larger
containers every two or three years to keep from
getting too root bound.
If they are already in the largest size available, the
plants can be cut in half with one piece put back into
the original container.
Make divisions in spring before any shoots begin to
emerge (often April or May is the best time).
Mainly, bamboo needs to grow into new soil to remain
Getting Started - Planting Bamboo
Back to planting bamboo...
Add several inches of compost to the bottom of the
hole and remove the bamboo from the container.
Do not spear or separate the root ball like most plants,
instead place the plant in the ground as-is.
Getting Started - Planting Bamboo
Fill the rest of the hole with compost or good soil and
add a layer of mulch onto the surrounding area.
Soak the ground and apply fertilizer to encourage root
Some taller plants may need support to prevent the
plant from falling over in high winds or under snow. The
canes can be tied to posts, or if there are enough
canes they can be tied to each other.
Getting Started - Planting Bamboo
Continued Care - Watering
Bamboo plants in the ground usually need about two
inches of water per week during the growing season.
Watering more frequently, every few days at about
three inches per week, will cause plants to grow faster.
Plants in containers need to be watered much more
frequently, usually every other day during the growing
season and sometimes every day during hot spells.
Continued Care - Mulch and Fertilizer
Bamboo plants tend to be self-mulching once
established. They drop a fair number of leaves
throughout the year that compost down and add
nutrients back to the soil.
It’s important to mulch plants with leaves or loose
compost heavily during the first few years, especially in
the fall.
Bamboo in the ground enjoy fertilizer but don’t require
it. Potted plants should be fertilized with slow release
pellets two or three times a year starting in March.
Continued Care - Mulch and Fertilizer
Phyllostachys humilis which will now mulch itself.
Continued Care - Thinning
Regular thinning is important, especially on running
Because canes don’t continue to grow after their initial
shooting stage, the older canes will be small while the
new canes are larger.
The older, smaller canes will be outcompeted for light
and will start to die at some point. Canes on most
species live for about seven years, although the canes
of Chusquea culeou live for 30 or more years.
Continued Care - Thinning
Most bamboo species should be thinned in July or
August, after the new shoots have completed their
growth and have leafed out.
The general rule is that each cane should get light. If
the cane gets any significant amount of light, leave it. If
it gets significantly less light than other canes then it
should be removed.
Cut canes as close to the ground as possible and make
the cut as flat as possible. Don’t leave sharp points that
people might fall on!
Continued Care - Thinning
Regular thinning will increase a grove’s vigour and
encourage it to produce larger shoots.
However, cutting too many canes in one season will
lower the grove’s ability to produce strong growth the
next season. Generally, avoid cutting more than a
fourth of the canes in a year.
Timber-sized bamboo plants are generally healthiest
when you can walk between canes easily.
Continued Care - Thinning
Phyllostachys vivax
Bamboo Seeds
Bamboo plants usually flower infrequently, sometimes
only every 120 years.
Within a few years, every plant of a particular species
around the world flowers at the same time.
After setting seed, plants will often die. Some species
will recover within a few years.
Occasional sporadic flowering can occur but usually
poses no threat to the plant nor produces viable seed.
Thus, bamboo seed is usually rare and hard to find.
Bamboo Seeds
Bamboo seeds have the potential for new varients,
such as new color patterns or potential plant size.
However, varieties that flower usually produce seeds
which revert to the regular species.
Bamboo seed usually takes a month or more to
germinate (some species taking up to six months).
Seeds usually don’t store for very long and within a
year often lose about half their original viability.
Seed Packets
Chusquea culeou - a
clumping bamboo native to
the Americas - recently
flowered and produced
viable seed.
We have packets with
about ten seeds in them
for you, ten seeds should
produce several plants.
C. culeou tolerates full
sun, rare for hardy
Chusquea culeou’s new shoots are often dark in the spring and turn green their first winter.
Bamboo Outside the Landscape
“Globally, bamboo is used for grazing, erosion control,
wildlife habitat, paper pulp, lumber, manufactured
items, house construction, crafting, and food.
In the United States
Bamboo is used for ornamentation.”
- From “Farming Bamboo” by Daphne Lewis and Carol
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