Tying up floppy bamboo

We've had a lot of heavy rainstorms lately. Pretty much every day for the last week or so. It's not that we're getting huge storms that last for hours -- we're getting small, strong storms that dump a good amount of water in a short time.

This tends to flatten out plants. At least we haven't had hail yet -- that flattens a bit but mainly shreds. I'll take flattened over shredded plants any day. In the case of my bamboos though, I can do something about the floppiness: tie them up!

First up is my Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa', or often just called Fargesia rufa. It's a great clumping bamboo that can take the hot, humid summers and cold winters that the St. Louis area has.

For whatever reason (possibly because it gets too much sun), the larger of my two Rufas is floppy. Although it adds a lot of new culms each year and just gets bigger, the culms aren't very strong. So when all of the leaves come in, the culm can barely support their weight. Add some rain to the mix (heavy or not) and the culms just can't do it.

Tying it up gives it the support it needs, and restores it to looking it's best. I used some short metal conduit lengths as stakes, then used a loop of house wiring (keeping to the theme I guess) to go around the plant, lifting the culms and supporting them. I wanted something with a little more structure than rope or twine, and the wire sure has that.

I also tied some of the center culms together with twine to make them stand more upright, giving more height to the middle of the plant.

It's really beautiful now, isn't it?

Moving on to this planting of Phyllostachys bissetii which is along my driveway:

The new shoots were about 8 feet tall this spring, but as soon as all of the leaves opened up, the culms bent over, taking up a good portion of the driveway (although it's a part we don't drive on, hence using it for plants and storage of other garden project materials).

Since this is a long, narrow planting, I'll make a rope "railing" to hold the drooping culms up off the driveway. First drive some conduit poles in:

Then get the rope strung between the poles.

I like natural ropes and twines. They won't last as long as poly rope, but they just "feel right" for the bamboo I think.

Once the rope is up, I've restored some of the bissetii's height, and cleared up several feet of driveway space again.

The final bamboo I'll tackle (in this post) is Phyllostachys aureosulcata, or it's common name "Yellow Groove":

This one is about 12 feet tall, maybe a little more. Its culms are sturdy enough to support the weight of the leaves when dry, but when dripping wet, it's arch city:

These culms are really blocking paths:

and when bent over like this, they don't really provide much privacy. I did get a good look at this cardinal nest though, which I couldn't really see when it was being used a few weeks ago:

Even though the culms (canes) will probably straighten most of the way up once the leaves dry off, I don't want them falling over this much every time it rains (as I said, nearly every day recently). So I'll tie culms on opposite sides of the grove together, so they will pull in opposite directions and hold each other up.

The other option was to wrap all the way around the grove, pulling all of the culms together and forcing them upright. I just didn't see how I'd be able to do this, even though it would only require one tying instead of many.

I have to tell you that I got completely drenched working in this plant. Sopping, dripping wet. I got the plant upright though. My path is now clear again:

Our privacy has been restored too:

In another year or two the culms on this plant (and the bissetii) should be large and strong enough so that arching or drooping is not a big problem. Until then, I'll be tying up any culms that get in my way.

Next up, this plant that's between the patio and the driveway:

It's currently blocking two of the three staircases that lead down to the patio, so I need to do something soon! Not today though -- I've had it with wet bamboo for now.

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