The Q&A Archives: Tips on prepping soil and planting Mexican Weeping Bamboo

Question: I have ordered 20 Mexican Weeping Bamboo plants through Monrovia and I want to make sure I plant them correctly so they will thrive. I have a planting Box that is about 5' deep, so I'm not worried about this clumping bamboo spreading. What I want to make sure I do correctly is add the correct nutrients and fertilizer to get these plants started healthy. I?ve got standard soil in the planting box now. What should I mix it with?

Also, these plants are going to run along the back of my property and are going to create a privacy shield from my neighbors. I?m planning on planting them 3 ? feet apart. Is that close/far enough apart to ensure a healthy, full plant?

Any other tips I should be aware of? I have one week?s time to prep before the big planting weekend.



Answer: Sounds as though you've got a big project ahead of you. The Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata) is a clumping bamboo found in Mexico and Central America. It produces thick stands of long narrow leaves. It is somewhat drought tolerant, but benefits from regular watering and feeding. Mexican Weeping Bamboo is easily grown in pots and will grow to around 6 feet tall, but will achieve twice that height if planted in the ground.

Bamboo plants demand little care. Firstly, because of their vigorous growth, just as a lawn grass, to which they are related, they do benefit from regular watering and regular fertilizer applications. A fertilizer higher in Nitrogen is usually indicated and frequently lawn fertilizers are used (e.g. 16-6-8). Once the plant has achieved its mature size in about ten years, however, it will require much less fertilizer and watering, with several species being indeed drought tolerant. Mulching around the plant is also very beneficial. Compost, manure, or finely ground fir bark are all good choices (if you use manure, fertilizer applications are not necessary for that season).

Regular garden soil is fine for your new plants, but garden soil alone can dry out and become difficult to rewet so you'll do yourself a favor if you amend the soil with some compost or other organic matter. I'd spread 4-5" of organic matter over the top of the soil and dig it in.

Since this is a clumping bamboo, the clumps will slowly expand as the plants mature. Typically, a mature clump reaches 15-20' in diameter so planting yours only 3-4 feet apart will result in an almost instant privacy screen. If that's your plan, go right ahead. If you have the patience for the plants to fill in, you can space them 8-10' apart.

Best wishes with your new bamboo!

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