Oregon LCB#8491 • 489 NW Creswell Lane, Albany, Oregon • 541-223-8555
Bamboo Grower and Landscape Contractor

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Running Bamboos
     Phyllostachys atrovaginata

              (Incense Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys aurea
             
(Fish Pole or Golden Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys aureosulcata
              ‘Spectabilis’

     Phyllostachys bambusoides
             
(Japanese Timber Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys bambusoides
              ‘Castillon’

     Phyllostachys dulcis
              
(Sweetshoot Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys edulis
              
(Moso)
     Phyllostachys heteroclada
              
(Water Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys nigra
              
(Black Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys nigra ‘Bory’
              
(Tiger Bamboo)
     Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’
     Phyllostachys vivax
             
(Chinese Timber Bamboo)
     Qiongzhuea tumidissinoda
             
(Chinese Walking Stick Bamboo)

Clumping Bamboos
     Fargesia robusta

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Bamboo FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
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     Selecting your bamboos
     Planting, care, and control of
              your bamboos

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              in Albany, Oregon

Bamboo (FAQs) Frequently Asked Questions

Planting, Care, and Control of Your Bamboo

Click here for a pdf of the entire FAQ section.

How do I plant and space my bamboo?

When planting leave at least a lawnmower's width between your bamboo and anything else. This will make it possible to control the spread of your bamboo by hand. Should you be considering using some kind of machine to help with the edging make sure you have enough space for the machine. Generally space divisions 2 to 6 or more feet apart, depending on your needs and budget. Bamboo groves are usually started with divisions planted 10-15 feet on center. The bigger the bamboo the more space it will need.

How do I plant, water, and mulch, and fertilize my bamboo?

Bamboos can be held for some weeks until ready to plant as long as they are kept moist.  Planting bamboo is straightforward, much like planting trees.  Measure the diameter of the root ball or pot with a stick and dig your hole to suit.  You do not need to dig a hole much wider and deeper than this since the bamboo’s roots will spread where they need to go anyway.  Plant the root ball no deeper than the soil surface and initially cover it with no more than 1 inch of mulch.  Bamboo roots will eventually spread sideways and straight downward 6-8 feet or more.  Guy tall bamboos, or those whose root ball is not sufficiently heavy to keep it totally stable during the rooting period.  You want your new bamboo to be as snug as possible so that the new roots can get quickly established in the native soil.  The faster this happens the less likely your bamboo is to get stressed.  Soil interface problems are generally only a problem in extremely compacted or hard soil.  You can spread a little matured compost on the bottom of the hole before planting the bamboo.  Upon transplant inoculate the bamboo rootball with endomycorrhizal spores. These grow into the bamboo roots and establish a symbiotic relationship while feeding your plant and helping to protect it against climatic changes.  Immediately after planting water your bamboo and keep it moist for the next couple of weeks.  Water regularly during the first season.  An inch of water a week should be sufficient.  Some people water daily during the dry Oregon summer using drip emitters for 10-15 minutes.  Mulching once or twice a year with a layer 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick of mature compost will take care of the bamboo’s nutrient needs and encourage soil fauna, microorganisms and fungi.  In a clay soil running bamboos will often choose the path of least resistance, right between the clay and mulch. Fertilizers are fine but can be expensive, but there is little worry about too much fertilizer since bamboos easily incorporate even quite high concentrations.

How do I prune, harvest, and thin out my bamboo?

You will want to keep your bamboo cleaned out to keep it attractive and you may want to shape it so that it does not interfere with your activities.  Hedges are simple as you need to prune any bamboo culm only once:  once trimmed bamboo culms grow neither in height nor width.  You will need to cut the new growth each year, but again, that is also only once.  Bamboo is thus much easier to deal with than other evergreens which grow constantly taller and thicker.  Hand tools work well with bamboo.  When you trim a bamboo, cut just above and as close to the node or branch as possible.  This eliminates dieback.  When you cut down culms you should cut them at ground level to avoid stumps which are unsightly, dangerous, and rot slowly.  Shoots should be harvested in the spring.  Only allow shoots to grow where you want them to grow; cut down all others.  Bamboos always send up extra shoots, and if all are unrestricted many will abort anyhow.  The proper spacing for a bamboo forest is traditionally about 3 feet between culms, enough to walk between with an umbrella.  Another method is to cut out all growth older than 2 or 3 years. Any time you have dead, broken, leaning, or crowded culms you should remove them.  Harvested culms can be stored either vertically, or piled up horizontally.

How do I remove branches?

Ideally you don’t.  But if you need the club method is definitely fastest.  Use a 2x4 piece or a stout stick and smash off the branches with a swift downward stroke.  On some bamboos this can peel off a little bit of the skin of the culm but generally if you do it fast enough you won’t peel off much.  Cutting off branches with pruners will leave sharp stubs.

I see yellow leaves. Is my bamboo dying?

Bamboos lose and replace many leaves throughout the course of a year.  Yellow leaves fall off and are replaced by new ones at about the same time.  The oldest leaf in a cluster is the first one to turn yellow, die, and fall off.  If you hold a branch upright, the oldest leaf is the one bottom of the cluster.  Generally up to about 30% of a bamboo’s leaves fall each year.  In the rare case of a drowning bamboo, which can happen in very wet places or barrier situations, a much higher percentage of leaves will turn yellow, die, and fall off all at the same time.  The only remedy for this is to dig out and replant your bamboo immediately.

How do I transplant bamboo?

Ideally leave only one culm in the middle of the root mass you’re transplanting.  During transplanting prune off some branches or leaves to reduce transpiration.  Keep the bamboo moist at all times.  After transplanting keep the bamboo well watered for two weeks and then begin a regular irrigation program.  Watch the bamboo, if its leaves start curling this is a sign of water stress.  You may need to give it more water, remove more leaves, or trim off more branches.

How do I control the spread of my bamboo?

Regular maintenance should be done twice a year in June and September.  Phyllostachys bamboos usually run just under the surface.  Most of the runners can be snagged with a hay hook but if they've rooted down securely you'll need a strong shovel.  You can also control the spread of bamboo through cultural techniques.  Take time during the year, generally in the winter, to thin out your bamboo.  In addition harvest or eliminate all shoots except those that are coming up exactly where you want them to.



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Last Modified on 01/28/2015