Bamboo trading season is upon us

For those of us gardeners who have been bitten by the bamboo bug, late winter is an exciting time as it marks the start of the bamboo trading season. (Yes I know it's not actually late winter yet here, but it can be for growers in warmer climates.) It's the best time to dig up rhizomes -- the parts of the plant that are underground and will produce new shoots in a few months. For those of us who grow running bamboo, some method of controlling the spread of these rhizomes is needed, and digging them up before the new shoots are produced is a good way to do this.

Since these rhizomes can be used to create new plants, it's also a great way to get new plants by trading with other growers. Growing from rhizomes or the small plant divisions that you typically get in trades is not the fastest way to get the big plants we typically want, but it is one of the cheapest, and it's definitely a lot of fun.


Today I received a package from a fellow bamboo collector who lives in California. It's too early for me to dig up rhizomes from my own yard (another month or so will be perfect timing), but being in a warmer climate he was digging now. He said he could mail them now or throw them on the compost pile -- I told him to ship it!

He certainly made sure the box wouldn't come apart. Duct tape!? (I almost had to resort to this myself recently when I used the last of my packing tape -- I had exactly enough for the package I was shipping.)

Ah, he mistakenly sent me a bag of birdseed instead!

He made sure the bag wouldn't fall open either -- no skimping on staples!

Luckily these pulled out pretty easily, and time for a look inside...

It's not birdseed -- it's used hamster cage sweepings instead!

No, it's just a few bamboo rhizome sections nested in moist wood shavings of some sort. You can see the cut end of a rhizome here:

It's important for the roots to stay moist, and this certainly did the job.

Nice moist shavings keep the roots hydrated.

As much as I want to, I'm not going to pull them out of the bag today. It's supposed to warm up quite a bit on Friday, possibly reaching 50ºF, so that's when I'm going to take them out and pot them up. I'm not sure when they'll start shooting because they came from a warmer climate, but I'm hoping to delay shooting until the "right" time for my area.

For now they just go back into the birdseed bag, back into the box, and into the cold, dark garage.

I'm excited about getting a better look at them on Friday!

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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 27, 2011 at 9:41 AM)  

Alan, you forgot the most important piece of information: What kind of bamboo is in that bag? Curious minds want to know!

:: Bamboo and More ::

Alan  – (January 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM)  

I was planning on mentioning that in the post about potting these up. So you'll have to wait -- probably until Sat. or Sun. morning. =)

Steve Lau  – (January 27, 2011 at 5:58 PM)  

Alan, do you have any spare spectabilis rhizomes available in like another month?

I have kwangsiensis, and perhaps a few other species which you might not have yet to trade.

Alan  – (January 27, 2011 at 6:21 PM)  

Steve -- I won't know until I look in about a month. Last year I didn't think any had escaped but they did. If I have some this year I'll let you know -- I'm sure I'll post about it. =)

Steve Lau  – (January 27, 2011 at 7:33 PM)  

It will probably be more than a month for here just to ensure traded boos don't freeze. It has been below average temperatures almost every day for 2 months already, so that trend might continue well into March.

I'll be looking forward trading in a couple months.

TC  – (January 31, 2011 at 12:08 PM)  

Alan, any chance you would be willing to sell some rhizomes in the spring and ship them to Canada?

Alan  – (January 31, 2011 at 1:18 PM)  

TC - I don't know right now, but probably not. I don't typically sell plants, and shipping to Canada is a hassle. You can't find any sources in Canada for bamboo rhizomes? (commercial nurseries or private growers)

Check out the Bambooweb forum (on my "links" page). There are at least a few active forum members who live in Canada.

TC  – (January 31, 2011 at 1:38 PM)  

There are no sources on the east coast of Canada. You can find the odd tissue culture Fargesia at big box stores and nurseries but other genera are impossible to find. I can purchase from Canada's Bamboo World in British Columbia but it very expensive. That's why I am trying to find other sources.

The odd ebayer will sell some rhizomes and as long as they are bareroot I have never had trouble getting them through customs.

Thanks for your reply. I guess part of the bamboo addiction lies in its difficulty to find.

By the way, fantastic blog. It has inspired me to start one of my own. I look forward to yours everyday.


Alan  – (January 31, 2011 at 1:46 PM)  

TC - There's at least one forum member in Ontario. In a month or so when I check for stray rhizomes I'll post about it -- contact me then and we'll reevaluate the situation.

Thanks for reading! If you read every day anyway, why not follow? Click the "Follow" button in the sidebar.

Alan  – (January 31, 2011 at 1:46 PM)  

Ah, but I see you already do follow. :-)

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