bamboo rhizomes, will they be kept inbounds by mowing?

mersiepoo(6)January 2, 2012

I planted some boo cuttings years ago, and they are finally starting to take off. I planted them just inside our fence and there is a small strip of land outside of it where I've planted daffodils. The township mows the grass on that each fall, and any bamboo that would grow there would get chopped. My hindsight being what it is, I just am starting to worry a bit. I am wondering if the bamboo roots and rhizomes will still travel outside the fence to where I have the daffodil bulbs at and slowly kill them off. I've planted almost a thousand bulbs over the past 2 years, and so I am very concerned that I may have created a bamboo monster! If (God forbid) the rhizomes will travel even if they are mowed, I've got to act fast this spring and start to trench and put up a bamboo barrier along some of the road frontage..which is no small task. There are some bamboo gardens that I saw in a book where they keep the bamboo separated by mowing.

Just give it to me straight though...I gotta know. Thank you to all the wise and experienced boo growers out there!

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Bamboo rhizomes, even when mowed, will grow for some distance beyond the grove, and that depends on soil type, your growing zone and the type of bamboo.

I know one man here that used to contain his bamboo by only mowing, but he mowed down to about 1 inch from the ground, and mowed at least once a week.

If you mow, and leave a short 'stump' with which some leaves can emerge from, it's just like having a culm growing there and the rhizomes will continue to grow further.

The rhizomes from my experience will only grow so far from the grove and stop, or die, if they aren't given any further chance to grow such as any part getting sunlight and creating more food to grow further. Does that make sense?

If you're talking about 5 to 10 feet, have a bamboo that grows to over 20 feet in height, and is quite aggressive in your area, then you may have to install a barrier or do some rhizome pruning.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 8:58PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I agree with kentuck that mowing does not keep the rhizomes from spreading further. On the other hand, the rhizomes will not kill your bulbs. I grow the bamboo and my other half grows the flowers. Our plants are completely intermingled, with no harmful effects on either. The only downsides are: 1) sometimes we will have a bamboo culm shoot up right in the middle of a clump of day lilies, and 2) sometimes when bulbs are being planted there might be a rhizome just where we are digging a hole (much as if you would run into a shrub or tree root).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 9:05PM
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hank11(8 Northern Ca.)

I have a 60 ft. long privacy screen of Phy. Aurea. On my yard side I keep it mowed and it works fine. Last spring it put up a couple of shoots 18 ft. into the yard. Even though I mowed the shoots the rhizomes are alive and healthy. I recommend putting in a barrier or root pruning to protect your flower area. If you let them get established in the flower area, you will have to pay the devil to get them out later.
Having said all that, I re-read your post. You say you planted some "cuttings". What type of bamboo do you have? Is it a running type? or clumper?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 10:40AM
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I think that it's p. bissetti, the woman I got it from has culms that are about 1 inch or more in diameter, and about 25 to 30 feet high. It's also hardy in zone 5, so I'm guessing bissetti.

Thank you Kudzu and Kentuck for the information! I already planted all the daffy bulbs I am going to plant, and the township will mow that strip of land each fall, so hopefully I won't have any problems. I can also go out in spring and knock any new shoots over if I have to.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 9:34PM
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I'm chiming in late but will share the upshot of a conversation I had with an employee of the USDA experimental Bamboo station in Savahhah, Ga., during my visit there several years ago (not sure what it's official name was and which I understand is now no longer operational). Anyway, the 50' x 50' bamboo plots there were separated by 50' width grass pathways and mowing was the main method of controlling the spread of each species outside of its plot. The attendant told me that some of the bamboos did, in fact, spread beyond the 50' grass pathways and pop up in neighboring plots. Rhizomes would grow a number of feet each year and continue to live even though mowed and having no top growth. When they exceeded the grass path, they were home free in a neighboring plot. It can get vicious.

Last year, I came across a bamboo seller (in Alabama, I believe) who had a great website with LOTS of "how to" control information. You might try to hunt them down. Sorry, I don't remember their name.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 7:59PM
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I have observed groves where the owner does mow around their grove, but never thins out the bamboo. When there are too many culms to the point where the grove can no longer send out shoots through the middle, it will try to send out shoots progressively farther away. I've seen bissetii shoots from a 10ft tall grove with shoots popping out around 15ft away and no shoots emerging anywhere close to the grove. On the other spectrum I've seem an aureosulcata grove where the owner seems to have the grove thinned annually and fertilized. I'm not sure if he rhizome prunes however shoots are not emerging any more than 1-2ft away form the grove edge and many are still coming out of the middle getting taller each year.

It looks like a combination cutting out smaller culms and rhizome pruning will restrict the spread of a bamboo.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 10:24PM
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As I mentioned above, they will run farther from the grove if given a chance for culms to develop leaves.

I know a man who used a shredder only once a year to shred around a grove next to his hayfield, but the shoots kept popping up farther and farther away.

Two things...he used a shredder, which left culm stumps that remained there and many grew limbs and leaves from these stumps, giving the bamboo a reason to keep spreading.

Secondly, he did this once a year. The new shoots emerged and had a month or so to develop before being cut down.

The man I mentioned in an earlier post above, cut around his grove at least once a week and cut as low as he could which gave the newly emerging culms no chance to produce food and spread.

Also I agree that if a grove gets too 'thick' with culms, it will produce and store food in it's rhizomes quickly and will spread farther than a 'thinned' grove.

The first year that I planted my black bamboo from a 1-gallon pot, it sat dormant till late Summer which it then put up a shoot 15 feet from the original plant. Bamboos will act differently in different soils and different climates, so what I see happen here may or may not happen in other parts of the country, so that needs to be considered.

I can only speak from what I have experienced here.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 7:51AM
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