Thursday, December 16, 2010

More on growing bamboo in containers...

Many bamboo varieties are well suited for container growing. Container growing opens up the ability to grow running bamboo, something that I normally suggest in lieu of planting bamboo directly in the ground (not recommended).

Here are a few tips to consider when planning the right container for your bamboo:

1. Know the material - You have to realize up front that bamboo, with a fast growing woody mass, will eventually need to be cut back after 2-3 years. For ceramic containers, this is especially important as the bamboo's root mass could exert enough pressure to crack or break the container outright. Another container option is to use a metal horse trough which is not prone to breaking. Regardless of the container type, its still important to maintain the size of the root mass on a periodic basis to prevent the plant becoming root bound and unhealthy at some point after a couple of years.

2. Container grown bamboo is prone to temperature extremes - With extreme summers and cold, snowy winters, the bamboo root mass is prone to damage. Many people focus on the top growth, but if the root mass gets heat damage from an overheated pot or the root mass freezes into an ice cube (have seen this happen in our mild California freeze), it can really set the plant back. Remember, a damaged top growth recovers very quickly with some warm sun and good soil, a damaged root mass can take the plant back several years. Also, never use a terra cotta pot as it leads to a quick drying out of the soil in the summer, glazed pots retain soil moisture much better.

3. Cover that drain hole - Running bamboo, given the chance will send a rhizome due south through the drain hole in your pot to the ground, not good. The solution: Put a 99 cent paver underneath the pot, a running rhizome can't penetrate it, but it still allows for drainage which is important for bamboo (soggy soil = stunted growth or a complete halt to growth all together).

Container growing running bamboo opens up many landscaping possibilities; use these tips and you can enjoy running bamboo without creating an issue with your neighbors that is hard to handle once out of control. Contained you get to enjoy its beauty, without the downsides of running bamboo.

Mad Man Bamboo
(916) 300-6335

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Sean:

You seem like a knowledgeable guy on bamboo... I'm sort of an intermediate level - I have three bamboos, and have read several 'boo books, but I'm stumped on 2 questions. I hope you can help.

Before I knew much of anything about bamboo, we installed a hedge of Semiaurandinaria Fastuosa Viridis in our small backyard. They put in a fully enclosed barrier. It's done fairly well, and sent up taller culms over the years, but now I'm wondering how I can maintain it in the enclosed barrier. Had I known more at the time, I would have done the "open front" barrier... but, too late.

Last year I legged it up quite a bit... took off a lot of the bottom branches. It sent up many new culms, but most of them are stunted. They simply stopped growing at a certain (short) height, and never opened up. They've been like that all through the winter.

So, any ideas on how I can maintain the enclosed barrier (which is about 24 feet long by 2 feet wide)... I thought maybe the Slammer tool to remover some sections, add soil, etc... and have you ever heard of a bamboo "freezing" mid growth like mine did - stunted culms??

Thanks a million if you answer me. Help!