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Tee
Sep 5, 2014 5:13 PM CST
I live in California and we are in a bad drought. I bamboo planted in a wine barrel. It is very yellow. Should I cut it down and let it grow back?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 5, 2014 5:49 PM CST
Welcome, Tee. A picture would be a big help here, if you can show us one. If there's any green at all on the bamboo, I'd leave the culms alone for now. It may drop its leaves, then leaf out again if you get some rain (and it may rain soon, from the weather forecast).

Any water you can give it (dish water, shower water?) would probably help. Things in pots dry up faster than in the ground too, of course.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Sep 5, 2014 6:07 PM CST
I've only grown one clump of bamboo for around 5 years, so take my reply with a grain of salt and give more experienced responders more weight.

I do water my Fargesia rufa irregularly during periods of no-rain, and I've given it some chemical fertilizer to partly make up for my not-very-organic, nasty clay soil. So my clump only gets a LITTLE yellow. Mine always came back fine after I gave them some water and fertilizer, but they never got real yellow.

Since old culms don't grow in size, and at most add some leaves their second year, why cut the old culms? Their existing leaves will provide the plant with energy to store for next year's culms. If the plant can't support those leaves "with a profit", it will probably drop them by itself (turning them into the mulch it craves).

If you're worried about water loss from existing leaves, can't you give the barrel a few gallons now and then? .

A barrel might not give them much root space: I've read that bamboos never send roots very deep. It would be best for it to have rich organic soil near the surface, organic fertilizers and an inch or two of organic mulch. (Mulch will also help keep the soil surface less hot and save water).

If the yellow is caused by lack of Nitrogen as much as heat and drought, almost any soluble fertilizer might give you an "instant cure". (Always include plenty of water when adding any chemical fertilizer or concentrated organic fertilizer.)

Mulching with something like alfalfa pellets would give you mulch PLUS some N.

P.S. Are the roots getting hotter than they really like, in a barrel? I suppose most bamboos have good heat tolerance even in their roots, but you might check on that or give the barrel some shade without blocking air flow.

What species is it? Not all bamboos can take full sun. A cool-shade-and-moisture lover might be demanding a couple of things.

Here's a good place to do bamboo research:

http://www.bamboo.org/BambooSourceList/BambooSelector.php
http://www.bamboo.org/BambooSourceList/

And you probably don't care, but my little clump laughs at snow and ice:

Thumb of 2014-09-05/RickCorey/87ab42



Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 5, 2014 6:09 PM CST
P.S. If the pot sits right on the dry soil, and holes in the pot touch the soil, your soil might be stealing the water as fast as you put it into the pot.

Maybe prop the pot up so that it's not in direct contact with anything that can wick water away.

Maybe water less heavily, more often. If the roots are shallow, only water near the top of the barrel helps.

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