Your bamboo is telling you something

Most people who plant running bamboos don't realize the extent to which they spread in a single year in the right climate. Here in St. Louis the Phyllostachys species can send a rhizome 15' (4.5m) in one growing season, so rhizome pruning at least once a year is essential!

Luckily there are signs your bamboo gives you that things are happening underground, little reminders to get out the spade and chop some rhizomes.


The first are these little tufts of foliage growing in the yard.

These tell me that a rhizome got a bit too mature before I cut it, and it was able to put up some tiny "survival shoots" -- its efforts to grow some leaves and therefore survive. Without foliage feeding it, the rhizome (now detached from the main plant) will die.

But since I've let these little leafy tufts grow for a while (it's been some time since I've mowed) the rhizomes have recharged a bit and might be able to produce shoots next spring.

So although it's not shown here, I cut the foliage down to the ground or a bit below using my hand pruners. It's too late in the season for more to grow, but anything the rhizome does try to put out will just sap its energy reserves more.

A second reminder some plants give you is less subtle:

Some of the rhizomes break the surface of the ground. This is a great reminder that what is going on here above the surface is definitely happening below too.

Time to rhizome prune again!

The effort involved is so worth it, don't you think?

People always ask me how I keep the bamboos from taking over. Rhizome pruning is the answer, and it's not as much work as sounds -- unless you have 30+ plants that need it to be done that is. 


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Lisa  – (November 2, 2016 at 5:43 AM)  

I am a lazy gardener. Bamboo would take over my neighborhood before I noticed - hence the reason I don't have any! So I applaud your vigilance!

outlawgardener  – (November 2, 2016 at 9:27 AM)  

Unfortunately, I let my Phyllostachys vivax run around unchecked for years. Now it seems like I'm constantly digging and chopping at rhizomes that want to take over the world. Your bamboo is beautiful!

Hoover Boo  – (November 2, 2016 at 6:28 PM)  

I don't know how you keep up with that stuff. Whew!

Anonymous –   – (November 2, 2016 at 7:09 PM)  

Eat the stuff - I have a freezer full for winter soups and other tasty Asian dishes. I'm the neighborhood panda. Rodney in Delaware

chavliness  – (November 3, 2016 at 10:37 AM)  

Good Lord! 15' in one growing season! This is a scary stat sending chills down my spine; perfect for Halloween. Your bamboo is gorgeous.

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