It's been a while: bamboo control project #1

It's been a few months since I've had to do any digging for bamboo control, but now it's time to start. Besides some normal rhizome pruning, I've got three separate digging projects that are going to be a little more involved. This past weekend I started with the easiest one of the three.


Some rhizomes made it under the corner of the driveway and produced these nice shoots in an area I don't want them. I could have knocked the shoots down as they emerged in the spring then cut the rhizomes, but I instead decided to let the culms grow so I could dig a nice new plant later in the year. It is now later, so let's get digging.

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These new culms are fully leafed out and have hardened enough to survive some rough treatment while being dug, and there should be a decent amount of roots here too, so it's safe to dig. If I had done this earlier in the year before the culms hardened enough or the roots in this area were established the division would be much more likely to be damaged, stressed, or even die.

Here's what I'm looking at:


This is Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis'. I love it, just on the right. The part to the left of the stairs has to go.


Incidentally, this was my reminder that stuff is happening underground that I need to stay on top of:


It's a rhizome coming up in the stairs. Obviously I didn't forget that the bamboo had escaped, but seeing the rhizome being deflected out of the ground makes it seem more urgent.

What makes this corner look messier than it should is the carcass of last year's castor bean plant:


I left it here over the winter so the birds would have some perches -- they loved it -- then left it after the bamboo started shooting as support for the new culms in case of heavy spring storms that could snap them. Since it's no longer needed I finally pulled it out of the ground.


With the castor bean branches out of the way, things seemed easier, so I dug in:


The driveway provided a ton of extra leverage, making it easier to pry the plant out of the ground. It looks like there are probably two rhizomes over here, as the culms seem to form two lines:


With the plant laying down...


I could see the exposed rhizomes. I was correct -- there were two rhizomes here...


...and about 6 feet (almost 2m) of extra rhizome growing into the yard too:


Time to get a pot ready for this large division. I had to repair one of my 20 gallon squats:


(If you want to see how I repair these large pots after they've been cut to remove the previous plant, check out this old post.)

I coiled the extra rhizome into the pot, and although it was a bit tight, it all fit rather well:


This extra rhizome mass means that the plant should be able to store more energy and produce larger or more plentiful shoots in the spring. That's good because it means the plant will establish faster.

A bit of potting soil, some strong water streams to help wash the soil into the voids under the rhizomes, and this plant is ready to move to a sheltered area:


You see the leaves are already starting to curl in the sunlight:


I did remove a lot of roots, but I'm hoping I won't have to balance that by removing leaves -- either by topping (pruning) the culms or removing branches. So I'll water well and move this plant back into the full shade, which is luckily downhill. I'll monitor the plant for a few days to see if the leaves stay curled. If it seems that I just can't give it enough water I'll have to remove some leaves, but I want to avoid that.

There's a nice bare spot here how, ready for some planting:


I don't have a large castor bean ready to plant here, so I'll have to try something different...

How about a potted bamboo, but something with a different look?


Ooh, that sunlight is a little harsh, but the plant I've chosen is a beautiful large-leaved species: Hibanobambusa tranquillans. You usually see the variegated cultivar called 'Shiroshima', but the green version is very nice too.

Here's another look without the direct sunlight:



I don't remember what this plant did last year, but the shoots are only leafing out at the tops, and isn't forming any branches. Did the branches grow the second year? In any case the leaves are heavy so the culms get weighed down. That works well in this case I think, although I'd like to have a little more foliage higher up the plant. The culms are about 7' (2m) tall. It's going to need a bigger pot or to be put into the ground next year.


I have to admit that this project went about as perfectly as it could. I got the plant out in one piece without too much effort, ended up with a really nice large potted division, and moved a very attractive bamboo from way in the back of the yard where it couldn't be appreciated to a spot that I look at dozens of times a day.

If only the next couple of bamboo projects could be this easy. I don't see that happening though.

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Gerhard Bock  – (August 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM)  

I love how easy it is to take divisions from a running bamboo compared to a mature clumper. Your photos illustrate the process very well. That Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis' sure is a beauty!

:: Bamboo and More ::

Anonymous –   – (May 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM)  

I have bamboo that is out of control. I get hundreds of new ones each spring and hundreds of birds settle in the bamboo each evening. Trying to stop it seems like a massive undertaking and it is moving closer to the house each year. They are now in the front yard and up the 100ft driveway.

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