Yesterday I showed you a quick fix to a problem a potted bamboo had. As it happens that wasn't the only problem that particular plant had. In fact, it might not have even been the most serious issue it's been dealing with.

You see, this is not the normal angle for a living bamboo culm (they're only called canes after they're cut from the plant for some reason). They're usually pointing toward the sky, not the ground!


Taking another look, you may  be able to tell what's going on here:

No? Remember that this plant is in the large black pot...

Okay, this should make everything clear:

Yes, this culm was bent and broken after the division was dug and it was being loaded into my truck. (It was not a happy accident -- several culms were injured in this same way -- but time has passed and I can now talk about it.)

Here's a better look at my failed attempt to fix the problem:

This actually would have worked fine, except the support pole wasn't strong enough and bent when a strong breeze hit the plant. It's been living happily like this for several weeks now, but it's in the way so I want to get it upright again. Let's remove the duct tape and take a look at the culm itself:

Urg. Not a pretty sight. It's almost completely dead in that section!

The other side shows that there is some living tissue remaining though:

I knew there must be, because the top growth looked fine:

So I'll redo this splint, using a stronger material this time: a short length of electrical conduit (which is my favorite man-made garden stake material):

Since it was impossible for me to take photos while holding up the culm and wrapping the tape around the pole, I can only show you the end result:

This is nice and sturdy, but I'm going to entangle the plant in the branches of the tree for a little extra support:

Hopefully I haven't caused more damage by doing this today -- which is a real danger. Fingers crossed.

The other divisions that had the same problem and were similarly splinted are doing fine:

They don't have as many branches or leaves, but the branches that are there have produced extra leaves to compensate. The culms of those are almost completely dead (brown), except for a green stripe all the way up.

These are all divisions of Phyllostachys heteroclada, which is a species that reportedly takes a long time to size up from a small plant. I'm hoping that these divisions with the large culms will help the plant skip a few years and size up faster, but I won't know until the spring when they produce new shoots.

Incidentally, bamboo (and other plants) really are adaptable, and can thrive even after significant damage, like this Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis':

I had no idea that there was any culm damage until just recently when I was checking the pots for escaping rhizomes. It looks like the base of that culm was attacked by an insect when it was new and still soft.

This plant is doing so well though.  Amazing!

What's even more amazing though is the measures we gardeners will sometimes take to help our plants survive. I don't know about you, but I can't help myself. When I see a plant in distress, I need to help!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (September 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM)  

You used metal conduit, right? I love that stuff too, mostly as support for vegetables. Anazing how those heteroclada culms manage to survive with so much dead tissue!

Rock rose  – (September 18, 2011 at 11:35 AM)  

The things we do for plants! I did the same with my hose. It had those horrible kinks which stop the water flowing. I used some pegs and tape. It seemed to work. Glad yours did also.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax!  – (September 18, 2011 at 9:54 PM)  

Will it not be difficult to get the tape back off without tearing the plant tissue?

Andrea  – (September 18, 2011 at 11:11 PM)  

We have lots of bamboos here in the tropics, so that is the first time i see someone making splints on bent bamboos. I actually smiled while also amazed. I would have just cut it and let the bottom make shoots. Now i am interested if those bamboo under intensive care or rehabilitation unit will eventually live, haha! If only you're nearer i will just give you replacements.

Alan  – (September 19, 2011 at 7:12 AM)  

Lucy: No. I removed the old tape easily after just a couple of months. Duct tape dries out and loses stickiness outdoors after some time.

Andrea: these are running bamboos, not tropical clumpers. Without existing culms/leaves the plant will produce tiny shoots at this time of year, and will take many years to get back to a good size. My idea with these plants is to see if I can speed that process up, so I need to save every single culm.

Colin Grace  – (September 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM)  

That's one great remedy for making it more stable. Your ways of thinking has really made an impression on me.

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