Propagation forum: Dividing bamboo - how small a rootball is safe?

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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 30, 2014 3:11 PM CST
I've never moved or divided bamboo and haven't moved any trees or shrubs in several decades.

I need to create a 16 foot privacy fence ASAP, and I plan to split my 5-year-old patch of [i]Fargesia rufa[/u]. It is a clumper, and it droops like a mushroom or umbrella. The culms are only 4-5 mm thick (less than 1/4"). I think the culms are around 10-12 feet tall, but they bend down almost to the ground.

I'm wondering how small I can subdivide the rootball and still give her something that will establish safely and grow quickly.

Can I go smaller than 12" diameter clumps? 8"?

I would like to get enough clumps to "fill out" a 16 foot row ASAP.

If I can only get four, 12" clumps, they will be spaced every 4 feet and won't "fill in" for a few years, I guess.

If I could get eight, 8" clumps, I could plant them every 2 feet ... if they don't all die.

I hope they don't tip over! (I will cut the culms down to 4-5' so I can fit them in a van... ) Do you think they will need bracing or stakes of some kind?

It's currently in a shallow raised bed, around 6" of somewhat amended soil over clay. NOT very organic soil, and I realized recently that the culms are not emerging very near the raised bed walls (concrete paving stones stood on end). I think the edges dry out too fast for the roots/rhizomes to be happy. I had planned to divide it some year soon and improve the bed it is currently in.

I plan to dig it out Saturday, then drive it to the other location Saturday night or Sunday morning, then plant it in partial shade in a forest-like setting. I know to water them until established, though coastal PNW fall and winter will water them for me!


Thumb of 2014-09-30/RickCorey/c40f8d Thumb of 2014-09-30/RickCorey/7fb44e

Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Sep 30, 2014 8:41 PM CST
I bought my Fargesia rufa in a #5 pot (about 3.2 gallons). It was ready to burst the pot and had completely fill the surface with growth. I divided it into 3 sections: 2 two-fifths and 1 one-fifth. So the two-fifth sections were around 6 inches diameter. They did (and are doing) fine. Any section with less than eight culms died. Not sure how my climate (Minnesota) factors into this.

I always have some dieback as winter turns to spring, and some years I'll cut all the culms down and let them completely regrow. Doesn't seem to hurt anything, but my plants never get more than 4ft in zone 4, so I don't have that much to lose.
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
Image
RickCorey
Oct 1, 2014 10:52 AM CST
>> So the two-fifth sections were around 6 inches diameter. They did (and are doing) fine. Any section with less than eight culms died. Not sure how my climate (Minnesota) factors into this.

Thanks!

That almost doubles the number of divisions I can take.

However, the person I was going to make the hedge for now is unsatisfied with how long it would take to fill in. Also, her park management has promised to put "something" back where they knocked down the nice hedge. She plans to buy enough tall plants to fill in whatever the park leaves open.

The original "reason" given for ripping out a nice hedge was that "it blocked the line of sight for cars driving around a corner". I use quote marks because the park has many similar corners just as blind.

Anyway, this means that I can divide mine in the spring instead of right now, and I can keep the divisions instead of giving them away.

I want to take that bed apart anyway, so I can line the concrete paving stones with plastic to keep the corners and edges from drying out so fats. Also make one wall taller to deepen the bed, and replace the soil with something more organic and less clayey.

Now that I know this bamboo likes shade ("2" on a scale of 5 where "1" is "full shade") I have more spots where I can plant it. And I might make up a few pots for mobile bamboo and for giving away.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Oct 1, 2014 10:54 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Oct 1, 2014 2:20 PM CST
I should also have mentioned I purchased and divided the potted plant in early summer (mid June in MN). I have no idea how they would respond to a fall season work-up.
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
Image
RickCorey
Oct 1, 2014 2:38 PM CST
Wow! Where I am, early June is when the new culms shoot up rapidly.

Most sources I read say to transplant in spring, or early spring. A few sources (the useful ones) say WHY: don't transplant during or close to the rapid "shooting up" time.

That makes sense since that must be the most stressful time for bamboo.

I think that in my climate (long wet fall and late, mild winter) a fall transplant would have been OK, since they would have so long to settle in before hard frosts.

But probably spring is better, as long as I get them WELL before the new culms started shooting up.

I also want to say thank you for the idea about "mow 'em all down to the ground". Mine is so dense with such skinny culms I can't figure how to wean out the older culms. "Cut them all; God will know his own."
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Oct 1, 2014 4:21 PM CST
I am told that bamboo culms don't put on any more height after the first season. That's is also my experience up here, but we are only barely able to grow the most cold hardy species. If that is the case for you, too, then a mow-down approach might induce an explosion of growth, culminating in taller growth. (I love puns! Green Grin! ) On the other hand, it might set them back. While my mow-downs are out of necessity....(when winter die back is too ugly), you might want to do some experimentation rather than going going whole hog.
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
Image
RickCorey
Oct 1, 2014 4:29 PM CST
>> culminating

Oh, the pain! The pain! Good one. You got a rhiz out of me.

>> you might want to do some experimentation rather than going going whole hog.

Absolutely. I thought I would "mow" only a small part of one patch and see what happened. Cut an inch or two above ground, or really scalp it?

The only response my bamboo makes to our feeble excuse for a winter is to grow slower.

Thumb of 2014-10-01/RickCorey/e33594

Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Oct 1, 2014 7:54 PM CST
Up here we make snow angels.
Down there you have snow donuts! Whistling

rhiz.... Hilarious!

RickCorey said: Cut an inch or two above ground, or really scalp it?

I don't think it matters. The culms will die anyway. I probably cut at a half to full inch.
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
Image
RickCorey
Oct 2, 2014 12:09 PM CST
Thanks!

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