Bamboo chop and butterfly drop

With all of the bamboo maintenance projects I've done recently (tying up floppy bamboo, controlling escaped rhizomes) you'd think I'd be done with those for a while. Nope. There's one project left that I haven't gotten around to tackling: controlling one more escaped bamboo.

This is a really pretty shorter bamboo (Semiarundinaria okuboi) with a great tropical look. I planted it in a small raised bed "temporarily", and it has just gone through its third shooting season. It's been reported that this species has rhizomes that run deeper than normal, so is more difficult to control. I believe this now.


Here's a photo showing the plant last summer:

Semiarundinaria okuboi in summer 2010

You can just see the edge of the raised bed, while in the more recent photos you can't see the box at all -- it's been obscured by culms that grew outside the designated area:

There are quite a few of them, which is disheartening.

I let them all grow for two reasons. First, I wanted to see if any of them produced the variegated leaves that I've seen on another culm of this plant. Second, I wanted to get a few divisions of this species, and these "escaped" culms would be perfect for that.

None of them show the variegation on the leaves (which didn't surprise me), and since I'm tired of mowing and walking around these extra culms, they have to go. Normally I would wait a bit longer before digging divisions of new culms (just grown this year) because they haven't fully leafed out and haven't hardened off completely.

But this project can't wait, so I'm digging now.

I started by clearing the ground around some of the culms:

These are probably on the same underground rhizome, so it's as good a place to start as any. I cut around the outline of my digging area:

Then tried popping the division out of the ground with the rootball intact. What I found was that I didn't dig deep enough:

You can see the rhizome that's just bare been exposed:

So I dug deeper and got my division:

This taught me that the rhizomes were deeper than normal, and I decided not to take any more divisions and to just chop the escaped culms down.

I cut them below soil level with my spade.

I did experiment in a few spots and was able to find some rhizomes that weren't too deep:

These resulted in some nice divisions that I could pot up. I used a strong spray of water to remove most of the soil so I could see what was going on here. I noticed that the lowest nodes of these culms had buds on them:

That must be a characteristic of the Semiarundinaria genus, as I had found a few weeks ago that the Semiarundinaria fastuosa 'Viridis' division I took had produced two new culms from the lowest nodes of the existing culm -- not from rhizome buds as is typical. Very  interesting!

At this point I noticed a butterfly on the ground right at my feet, and picked it up in order to move it out of the way:

Chances are this guy is near the end of its life -- it just seemed tired -- but I'd rather have it die of old age than  under my boot.

Shortly after moving this guy I felt some raindrops and quickly moved the camera into the house. It started to rain lightly so I kept working for a few more minutes, but then the rain started pouring down and I had to escape to the garage. After a few minutes of heavy downpour I realized this job was finished for the day.

Unfortunately I didn't get any final photos of the finished project or of the potted divisions. I actually tried to take some this morning, but it is so hot and humid (80ºF and 96% humidity at 6:30 AM) that my camera lens immediately fogged up when I went outside.

So I'll have to show you the end results another time. I really need to do an "update on everything" post, as there are a lot of things that I'd like to show you.

As soon as my camera stops steaming up.

Note: the title of this post should have been "bamboo chop and butterfly drop off", but that didn't seem as catchy.


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Steve Lau  – (July 12, 2011 at 10:11 AM)  

Those divisions should survive if you have the right conditions. I got 14/14 parvifolia divisions to survive and they are already adjusted to full sun which took less than a week. Yours looks about the same age or so as what I took.The only difference is that I don't mind having original soil in my divisions since it's loomy and fertile anyways, and I can also use less of my home-made potting soil which I hardly use since I also fill the container halfway with old leaves from fall before popping the division in. Looks like your soil is closer to clay.

Alan  – (July 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM)  

Closer to clay? It's clay! Gardening would be a wonder to me if I had soil that was loamy and loose without having to do anything to it.

Also, I'm not worried about the divisions making it or not. A couple of the pieces I took are looking fried, but that's probably because they had very little root material to start with and it's been so hot.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (July 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM)  

Alan, speaking of soil. The soil I saw in Brookings, OR almost made me weep. Friable, loamy, dark brown. It looks like the stuff you buy in bags at Home Depot! Our soil is very similar to yours so I know what you have to put up with.

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