BAMBOO FACTS & CARE
Bamboo is an amazing plant, like no other in our universe. Being the fastest growing plant on earth, some reaching their full height in a single season, bamboo serves as a natural and renewable resource for food, shelter and our atmosphere’s balance. Take a look at some fascinating facts about bamboo:
- Bamboo is a group of woody perennial evergreen plants within the grass family.
- Bamboo species are divided into two groups, leptomorph (running) and pachymorph (clumping).
- There are over 1200 identified species of bamboo worldwide.
- There are approximately 150 species of pachymorph (non-invasive clumping) bamboo identified today.
- Clumping bamboo has a natural growth habit of forming tight compact clumps within a rhizome system.
- Bamboo grows 3 times faster than trees that make up deciduous or conifer forests which may take 30-50 years to regenerate after harvesting.
- Bamboo removes more carbon dioxide than most trees (as much as 2 times the rate) , due to its exceptional growth, and releases oxygen at a continual rate to aid in the – Bamboo is found worldwide, from the coldest mountain regions to tropical rainforests.
- Certain bamboo species can tolerate cold temperatures in the teens, many clumping – Bamboo flowers only occasionally and sometimes at intervals of 60 to 100 years. A grove of bamboo may all flower at the same time, followed by the death of the adult plants.
- Bamboo is a superb “green” product used around the world in crafts, gardening, furniture and home construction, clothing and even food products.
- Bamboo makes an excellent natural and controllable barrier.
- Bamboo’s strength and flexibility gives it the ability to bend within a storm and become upright again afterward.
- Bamboo’s strength as a building material has been proven to withstand earthquakes.
- Bamboo is a natural choice for wind and percussion instruments because of its hollow forms. Bamboo has been made to build bicycles, surfboards, bows for hunting.
1. Location, location, location!
Choose the location of your new bamboo prior to its installation based on the full maturity height of the bamboo species (not the size it is today). If you are installing a giant species, do not plant anywhere near overhead power lines or important underground utilities. Be knowledgeable to the “mature cane height” of the species chosen and plant accordingly.
Keeping in mind the bamboo’s mature size and its renewable nature, give your new bamboo room and use an 8 to 10 foot distance between plants as a general rule of thumb in placement for planting.
If you have chosen a specimen bamboo, choose a location that you can enjoy watching its growth and the beautiful color or shapes of the canes the bamboo will produce.
If you are unable to plant immediately upon receipt, keep your bamboo moist in it’s container and do not let it dry out.
The best soil is a light soil that contains a lot of peat or other organic materials. It is imperative to have good water drainage in the area you have chosen as the bamboo does not like to “sit” in water. Adding amended soil or a black cow product is fine to help your bamboo get off to a good start.
Dig a hole at least twice the size of the pot and at least 2 feet deep. The larger the diameter of the hole, the better. Plant the new bamboo so its soil level is the same as the surrounding ground level. If your hole was dug too deep, add top soil and then place the plant on top.
Always pack soil around your new plant, filling in the gaps, water in and pack again to ensure there are no air pockets. You may make a soil ring around your bamboo to retain water when you water the plant.
Mulch is an added bonus to your new plant that will help retain an even temperature as the plant adjusts to its new surroundings.
Water newly planted bamboo until the soil becomes saturated, let water sink in and repeat once again. Depending on weather and soil conditions, you may need to repeat watering a few times on the first day or two of installation.
Water the newly planted bamboo once a week for the first few weeks. Do not over water and watch the bamboo leaves for signs of stress. If the leaves of a bamboo curl or fold up, water immediately to revive.
If you are working with a bamboo in a pot, watering will need to be checked daily for dryness of the soil. Potted items dry out much quicker than those planted in the ground and survival will be questionable if the bamboo is shocked too drastically.
We fertilize all of our bamboo with a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer 3 -4 times per year. Use any good quality slow-release high nitrogen fertilizer such as a Palm and Ornamental Plant fertilizer.
The bamboo will require less fertilizer in the winter months so apply a light amount then and fertilize at a higher rate during the growing season February thru September.
A common, non-life threatening, pest of the bamboo is the bamboo mealybug. This particular pest seems to proliferate at amazing speed during periods of heavy heat and humidity. They are more unsightly than anything.
An infestation may appear as a cottony white deposit. The mealybug is most prevalent on the emerging culm shoots from the ground as it can hide in the wet numerous folds of the new culm and virtually go undetected for a long time.
They are somewhat resistant to insecticides due to their ability to hide and the powdery wax coating covering them.
Bayer Advanced, found at local retail outlets, is a good choice for control and is applied to the soil to systemically keep the bugs from attacking new culms. Soap sprays, chemical sprays, strong jets of water sprays ( to knock off), ladybugs and natural predators, along with coffee grounds have also been utilized to keep the population under control.
Aphids are also a pest that may attack your bamboo yet provide no significant threat to the health of the plant. The aphids secretions foster an unsightly, black sooty mold in the branch necks of your bamboo. They are not robust and can be killed easily with a soap or chemical spray/drenching.
Scale is an aphid relative that typically appears as bumps on the culms and branches of semitropical and tropical bamboo. They are unsightly, but generally do no harm. They have a hard shell that protects them from sprayed on insecticides. Natural predators are usually their demise, along with a cold winter blast. You may remove them by picking off or scrub off the culms with a plastic scouring pad.