Wild (?) Bamboo, E. Tennessee

k9tennFebruary 2, 2011

Hi, I am new here ;-)

I have read and researched all over, and not found the information I need. Maybe someone here knows?

There's a couple stands of wild (feral?) bamboo here, (Just south of Knoxville) growing beside the highway. It belongs along the highway in my front yard ;-)

I'm not much experienced 'gardener' but from what I have read it appears that bamboo is harder to kill than it is to grow -- perfect for a "black thumb beginner" to start with.

"Spreading" is what I WANT it to do. It cannot possibly get down into my "yard" there's 3 100# dogs who's running makes it look like a 4-wheeler theme park.

My dogs are why I want the bamboo. The ground is so rocky here it's impossible to drive fence posts into the ground far enough that dogs can't knock them down. I lost one last year from swallowing plastic, a food wrapper thrown from road.

So, anyways, how do I move the bamboo from where it is to where I need it? What parts of it do I need to get? I have read "Roots" but should I not get stems too? WHEN should I get it?

MOST important, how to I prepare it's place? What should I use to help it grow very very tall and as fast as possible?

What do I plant, how far apart?

My objective here is to (God Help us please) get a good, dense tall screen between the road (And beer-cans, food wrappers, etc) and my house as quickly as possible.

I have tools. I have elbow grease. I have a car that cant tote very much, but don't mind making a few trips. I have no cash.

Could someone please give "assume reader knows nothing" directions to successfully gather and plant the wild bamboo?

THANK YOU in advance


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Ah, lots of questions. First, I almost choked when I read you have 3100 dogs, but then I read it again. =)

Does the area you want to plant get plenty of sunlight? Does it stay wet for a long time after it rains?

1) Make sure you can legally dig on the property. If it's owned privately, contact the owner and get permission to dig. If it's public land, same thing: get permission.

2) Ideally you want to dig a section that's about 12" diameter or so (basketball sized or a little larger) from the edge of the existing grove, and get at least one culm (stem) in there too. The rootball will contain rhizomes and roots.

3) Since your ground is so rocky, it may be better to only bury the rootballs halfway when planting, then cover with new soil -- assuming you have somewhere else in your yard you can dig some.

I didn't really fill in all the details, but I'm out of time and I expect others will help with that.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:27PM
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THANKS for getting back on this -- The area I hope to plant varies somewhat, but is ALL getting 80% sun.

The nefarious Johnson Grass grows abundantly there - so I kinda thought bamboo would make a more effective barrier. Unless someone knows how to get J.Grass 20' tall ;-)

The area's between the gaurd rail and/or roadside sloping down towards my yard. Drains good, but I'll probably have to water it in hottest parts of summer -- have to water the dogs anyways.

How well does bamboo stand up to wind and storms? I love bamboo but we get violent storms several times in the summer.

I'd love to get that "Mosa" stuff I've read about (when taxes come LOL) but I can't see how something growing so fast could stand up to strong wind...

How soon should I gather the "dirt-ball" and how close together to plant them?


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 3:35PM
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It does very well here in Central Texas in arid conditions, rocky soil and partial shade. I dug some up last spring for a planter box, and it is doing well. I dug it up alongside a county road. I didn't solicit permission, because I figure they would rather not have it there. They would probably have said "no" because, from the risk management perspective, saying "sure, why not?" might be construed as an assurance that the activity is safe, which it obviously isn't. But asking permission is obviously the right thing to do.

I concentrated on getting the roots, and cut the canes off two or three joints above them. I buried the roots lengthwise, about the same depth I found them. I think you want to start off with encouraging root, not foliage growth.

I wouldn't underestimate the ability of this stuff to spread. Many years ago, I had it coming in my back yard from a clump on the other side of the fence, a good 40 ft. away, I pulled up roots 20 ft. long.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:40PM
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K9tenn, I caution you about planting bamboo next to a street or road. Without first installing the correct bamboo barrier. Bamboo will shoot up through hot asphalt I have seen it more than once. It will completely destroy an asphalt highway and I'm sure you don't want to see the bill from that. Not to mention when my 26 ft canes get wet or snow covered they droop over so next to a road they will be in the road and cause problems. I am not trying to discourage you because I love bamboo. I grow 29 different species so far and could give you a million good reasons for growing it. But these are the things most people don't tell you. Now back to your questions. I usually recommend spreading them 4 to 5 ft apart but its really up to you. The bamboo will go where it wants to no matter how far apart you spread it. It just depends on how long you are willing to wait and how hard you are willing to work for it. Digging bamboo is no easy task and anyone who tells you different has never dug it from an established grove. I agree about the size of the rootball but, I always take way bigger if possible and you will be able to tell the difference in the size of the following years canes. I have never lost a division with a rootball basketball size or bigger. This is very important. Most people don't agree with me on when to dig bamboo. I say you can dig it any time of the year as long as the ground isn't frozen. Now that being said the worst time to dig it is when its shooting. But I have been forced to dig it both when the ground was frozen and when it was shooting and my divisions of the frozen ground did fine. My divisions when it was shooting suffered but still survived just produced much smaller canes for a few years. I also would suggest getting as many canes as possible in each divisions but don't cut them back much a larger rootball will compensate for the moisture loss. Keep them wet and get them in the ground asap. water well for the first year. When the leaves curl on themselves they need water. They will spread fast once established. I would start digging early march before they shoot. Mine shoot early in april. but I am in Northern Ky. You might need to dig as early as 2nd week in febuary. If they have already began to shoot see if you can find some in the grove that haven't began to shoot there will be areas that have yet to shoot. Good luck I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:39AM
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It's best to leave some branches (and leaves) on the culms that you dig, but most likely you'll need to cut off some of them. The leaves will curl which indicates it needs water. If you water it and they stay curled, you need to remove leaf area.

That's a good point about the drooping into the road, and I know it's possible for shoots to come up through asphalt, but that doesn't mean it will always penetrate asphalt. It really depends on what sort of roadbed there is. (For example, I know of bamboo planted right next to a gravel road and shoots never come up through that - it's doubtful the rhizomes even make it under the hard-packed road.)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Alan I agree about the hardpacked roadbase, but I personnally wouldn't take that chance. Plus if you rhizome prune twice a year you shouldn't have to worry about it either. I just wouldn't like to be going out in the bitter cold to move my boo out of the road. And if the city sees it as a nuisence they will cut it to the ground and that would infuriate me. So, to the original poster good luck in whatever you decide but just remember there are plenty of experts on here to help whatever you need. Growing bamboo is a very adddictive habit and it will get ya if you're not careful. Just ask anyone on the bamboo forum.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 7:43PM
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I agree -- better safe than sorry, especially on the drooping issue. I'm not clear how far from the road the OP was going to plant, but if it's 20' or more, then drooping isn't a problem.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 3:48PM
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