Friday, March 23, 2012

Awakening from a long winter slumber - running bamboo is now shooting...

For a couple of weeks now, I have spent several strolls through my garden with a keen eye on new bamboo shoots popping out of the ground from my running bamboo plants.  Until today, I strolled back in the house a bit disappointed, but still hopeful that it would only be a few more days until I see those beautiful bamboo shoots poking out of the ground, showing awakening from the long, cold winter slumber.

The way bamboo works is - running bamboo shoots in the Spring (March through June) and clumping bamboo shoots in the Summer (late July through mid-October).  So these times are particularly exciting for a 'bamboo geek' like me.

Today, sure enough, I saw this, which put a smile on my face and I found myself gawking at it:

This is Phylostachys nigra 'Black Bamboo'.  A running bamboo that shoots bright green and turns black over a year and a half.  This was the first shoot I discovered this season.

This is one of my favorite running bamboos - Phylostachys bissetti.  Tough as nails (takes high wind and minus 10 degrees), beautiful with lush green foliage and it is fast growing.  I got a glimpse of several shoots like the one pictured above peeking out of the ground.

Yes, I am a 'bamboo geek', finding these little garden surprises makes my heart go pitter-patter; and, this is just the beginning, more shoots are working their way up through the soil to the warm Spring sun.  Can't wait...

Mad Man Bamboo
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fusionboy69 said...


I've recently started a backyard project for a privacy screen that will use the phylostachys nigra as the screen. Yesterday I was able to pick up a couple of 5 gal pots that I found on Craigslist for a decent price to add to the one my wife bought from a local nursery. The shoots are about 4-5 ft tall and each bucket has approximately 4-6 shoots. I was curious what the best way would be to go about splitting them up into more pots while I get the growing area ready. I took them out of their original pots and puts 2 into 5 gal buckets, as they seemed to have an extra inch of space all the way around and placed one in a 15 gal pot. I wanted to do this because they're root bound and I want them to be able to advantage of they grow season even while in a pot. I was scared to split them without the proper instruction for fear of killing my babies. Can you also cut the rhizomes and grow from them? Any help is appreciated! Thanks, Aaron

Mad Man Bamboo Nursery said...

Hi Aaron,

I'd plant them and let them grow out in the larger containers and then would try to propagate them. Splitting them now may likely either set them back or kill them outright. I tend to err on the side of caution. Given time, you should have plenty to grow by propagation soon enough. Hope that helps. Thanks. Sean

fusionboy69 said...

Hi Sean,

Thanks for the advice! I've been doing a lot of reading on the net about P. nigra's care, growth habit, etc.. Is there something I can buy that'll tell me how much moisture is in the potting soil? I'm afraid of having the soil dry up but also don't want to over water. As always, I appreciate your time.



Mad Man Bamboo Nursery said...

Hi Aaron,

Definitely, you can buy a moisture meter that can be placed really anywhere you want to measure. You can find them at most hardware stores and with no doubt online. They are pretty inexpensive. Thanks.