A little pick-me-up

By "pick-me-up" I really mean "prop-it-up". And by "it" I mean bamboo. This Phyllostachys glauca 'Yunzhu' keeps defeating my attempts to keep it more upright and out of my neighbor's yard. (The property line is between the vertical pole in the bamboo and the edge of the wooden compost bin. So although the roots are in my yard, it looks like about 50% of the plant is actually in my neighbor's yard.)

You can see that the support poles I installed earlier this year are no longer in place -- one is angling out of the right edge of the photo). I've got some ideas for a more long-term support structure that involves new poles and probably some welding, but for the near future I have a quick fix.


The problem is that I've got these poles tied together with hose clamps:

They work very well at first, but they somehow loosen over time and allow the poles to slide. I'm not sure if the screw mechanism is slipping or if the metal bands are stretching slightly, but the end result is a broken "cage" and unsupported bamboo.

My quick solution:

Duct tape!

First remove all of the clamps:

(Some of them were still holding pretty well.)

Next, just wrap some tape:

Neatness doesn't count. I just want it to hold well and be strong enough to survive the winter. (My experience with duct tape on my temporary greenhouse says that it will last a few months, but will start drying out and weakening if left out too long.)

So the "cage" is rebuilt, and the bamboo is supported again. (The plant is still leaning, but nothing I can do about that really.) The joints are strong but some of the poles are not really up to the task -- they'll have to do for now though:

I've read that this species tends to lean when young, so I'm going to give it another year and see what it does. If it doesn't become more upright I may declare it not garden-worthy and remove it, replacing it with another species.

I'm hoping it starts behaving though, as removal won't be fun (I've done that before). If I decide to dig it up then a more permanent support structure won't be necessary, so the duct tape may have to be replaced in the summer. You'll read more about this next year I'm sure.


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Alan  – (December 18, 2011 at 11:40 AM)  

Lucy: ...and don't keep it contained. I control all of my bamboos with rhizome pruning or planting in containers.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 18, 2011 at 1:37 PM)  

Alan, how thick are the culms? I would imagine you won't have a problem when the culms get thick enough to support the weight of the leaves. It sure looks like a nice bamboo!

Steve Lau  – (December 18, 2011 at 3:18 PM)  

It looks like those culms might even be a bit larger than my atrovaginata which has 1 inch culms, but one way I've found to control the lean of a bamboo, even if it means pulling the all the way to the ground is with solid tent stakes, several feet in the direction you want the bamboo to be pulled, and then using a weather proof rope to pull them in that direction.

Considering how well developed this boo looks, with a warm winter, it looks like you'll have some pretty tall bamboos by next year.

Alan  – (December 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM)  

They're at most 1" in diameter, but the problem is not that they're leaning from weight -- they're growing at that angle. Maybe having the cage in place when it shoots in the spring will help.

Steve Lau  – (December 19, 2011 at 4:26 PM)  

That's kind of unusual. I woudn't expect shoots to lean in one direction unless they are struggling to reach light, and it looks like yours is in full sun. I would guess changing their lean as they rise should fix the problem.

Alan  – (December 19, 2011 at 4:36 PM)  

Not unusual for some species (including this one). Whittaker in Hardy Bamboos: Taming the Dragon lists 'Yunzhu' with a habit that is "V-shaped when young, becoming upright". BTW, if you don't have that book, it's my favorite bamboo book.

Steve Lau  – (December 20, 2011 at 6:25 AM)  

I do happen to have that book.

I believe the V shape happens in a lot of boos with longer branches just so they can spread out to get more sunlight. Before taking divisions, my parvifolia had shoots around the perimeter coming out around 45degrees because somehow, the grove manages to know where shoots need to lean to catch more sun. Hopefully that V shape goes away with another year of maturity.

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