Planting Your Bamboo!
Gracilis Bamboo - Slender Weavers
Information you should know
Did you know that there are over 1400 different species of bamboo worldwide? That’s a whole lot! And there are still new species being discovered.
Many people think of bamboo as a weed or pest that will take over gardens and invade backyards but the truth is, there are plenty of types of bamboo that will not do this at all. There are plenty of species that are wonderful and safe for your garden with awesome uses that are commonly looked over due to the bad wrap of bamboo in general.
Did you know that there are two different classifications of bamboo, running and clumping. Clumping varieties are completely non-invasive. They differ from other types of bamboo because they will not spread uncontrollably throughout gardens or backyards unlike running types.
Clumping bamboo varieties grow how the term indicates, in a clump. Once they have reached maximum growth they will not continue to grow outside of the area that the culms already inhibit. This area can vary between species but usually takes up a diameter of approximately 1 metre.
Non-invasive bamboo types grow on a yearly growth cycle. During the cooler months you will see very minimal growth if any from your plants and during the warmer months (from spring until the start of autumn) your plants will regenerate, shoot and grow extremely quickly. New shoots of bamboo emerge from the soil within the diameter of the clump and grow upward until reaching their maximum growth height. Again this can vary but for some species you can expect to see up to 50cm of growth every 14 days. This is extremely fast for a plant or should I say a grass!
It is worth noting that if your plant is young (not full grown maturity) you will see the new shoots emerge around the diameter ring of your plant, this is because they take time to grow and establish to their full size and width. Once they have reached full maturity all new shoots will remain within the area of the plant. You can find plenty of information on the sizing of different species of bamboo online. But as previously pointed out, most plants will reach a diameter of approximately 1 metre and this is as large as they will get width wise.
The amount of space required for growing your plant will depend on the full grown dimensions of the species. However you can minimise the overall diameter of your plant by placing root barriers into the soil to physically restrict further growth or alternatively new shoots can be removed by snapping/cutting them off as they begin to grow through. It is not recommended to pull these out by the root as this can have poor effects on the overall plant. Similarly you can cut down already grown shoots if you wish to reduce the size of your plant at any time.
(Note: the clumping bamboo don't spread invasively, they simply expand outward until fully grown, just like a bird of paradise plant does).
You can virtually trim, prune and shape your plants to suit your own unique and personal preferences. We know that bamboo can grow to extreme heights, but if you want the look without the height you can always keep your bamboo at your own desired size by trimming the individual culms. When any part of the is trimmed it will not regrow. This characteristic allows the bamboo dimensions to be permanently controlled. As mentioned previously, the plants regenerate on a yearly growing cycle, so to keep your desired height pruning will only be required on a yearly basis to trim new shoots to your preference. Some people chose to remove new shoots all together, however new growth is always a fresh and bright addition to the plant.
Thinning bamboo works in virtually the same way as height adjusting and pruning. Different species grow to different densities, thus if you have a desired look in mind you can thin your bamboo to suit just as we mentioned with height. When new shoots are sent up during the growing season you can pick and choose how many to keep in the clump and how many to remove. Remove these by snapping or cutting, not by pulling. Alternatively once your plant is at full density you can choose to cut out any culms. Thin out as much or as little as you want. After all bamboo is a type of grass and they will naturally regenerate new shoots to freshen up the clump the following season.
It is worth noting that if you are thinning bamboo by removing branches (culms and branches are not the same), branches do not regenerate on the culm. The new growth comes from the yearly germination of new shoots growing up but on a positive note, if you trim too much and want some density back, you can encourage the new growth with fertiliser water & some TLC.
Overall in the way of versatility and low maintenance bamboo is the perfect plant for any garden. Once planted and established there is really little upkeep needed to keep your plants looking great and healthy. They are drought tolerant and require little watering and as we just discussed, pruning is a once a year job and completely up to you. Promoting growth with fertilisers is encouraged and water always helps the plants to look a little more lush but again it comes down to your personal preference.
Some of our favourite uses of these amazing plants is for privacy screening and tropical or Asian themed gardens. Due to their height and somewhat thick density, they have become the perfect choice of living fence/screen, especially along neighbouring fence lines, garden patios or BBQ areas and around pool yards just for that extra lush green touch of privacy.
Tips & Tricks When Planting
When preparing for your plants to arrive it is recommended to prepare the holes and soil in which the plants will be placed. For plants going into the ground it is recommended to dig your hole twice the size of the pot/bag you plant will arrive in. The depth does not need to be overly deep, just large enough to place the root ball and cover.
Bamboo plants have reasonably shallow root systems so when preparing soil we don’t need to focus too much on anything other than the topsoil as this is where the roots will position and grow. The roots grow in a horizontal direction just under the surface of the soil rather than growing deep into the ground. Thus when preparing there isn't a great deal of work needed but it is recommended to prepare the holes and soil with blood and bone fertiliser prior to planting. This will encourage healthy growth and establishment of your plants.
Mulching and fertilising your plants once positioned in their holes is also a great idea to encourage growth and maintain moisture in the soil. This is especially important for young plants whilst establishing.
It is extremely important to ensure that once your bamboo is planted that the soil stays moist. Once planted in the ground they will require watering at least once a day with a good soaking of water. This process will need to be repeated daily for at least a month after planting and then after this your plants should be drought tolerant and require little to no watering.
This process is a little different if you are planning on planting bamboo in pots or troughs however. When in pots bamboo needs a daily upkeep of water to ensure it does not dry out. It is important to keep up the nutrients to your plants also, as they cannot access the essential nutrients needed from the soil as they can when planted in the ground.
Bamboo prefers a full sun position for optimal growth however a partially shaded position can be tolerated. The parts of your plants receiving the most sunlight will grow to be thicker and more bushy than parts of the plant that receive less direct light.
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