How easy is it to take cuttings from bamboo?

edrob357February 19, 2008

Last year I bought a house in Normandy, France (it says California in my profile because it wouldn't take France, Normandy or my Zip code when I signed up to join this forum). The house has a two and a half acre garden surrounded by hedgerows, but unfortunatly the hedgerows are all composed of deciduous plants, bushes and trees. Unfortunatly, because my only neighbour has a house and garden that look like it would be better suited to a dirty hippy encampment, with caravans, wheel-less cars, rusting shoping carts, etc all over the place. While this is thankfully blocked from view in the summer, I need to put some evergreen plants in the hedge to block out this hideous view in the winter. Bamboo looks like it would be perfect for the job, and I can get a ready supply of bamboo shoots from another friends garden. However, I have no idea how to take bamboo cuttings (clones) succesfully and as I will need a hedge at least 150 feet long, I would appreciate some advice on how to take the cuttings, how far apart to plant the individual plants, when to do it, etc. I have been told that bamboo is a very agressive, fast growing, invasive plant which sounds fine for me. I can mow and cut it back on my side of the hedge, and if their garden is overrun with bamboo in 12 months, all the better for me (they only seem to fill it with more and more junk, anyway). I have no idea of the specific type of bamboo that I have and as I can't attach my own photos and don't know one species of bamboo from another, any general advice on the best way to grow, plant and care for what appears to be a really common, screening type of bamboo that grows well in temperatures of -10 to 30C (10 to 90 F- Zone 7 or 8, I think) Thank you in advance.

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Ha, you sound like you have neighbors like WE do..(shudder)!
In fact, the next time I go to my friends place to get more bamboo cuttings, I'm gonna sneak onto their property and plant some bamboo to obscure our view even further! :)

Taking cuttings is easy, I was just reading about this the other day, take them in the late spring, for the easiest way to do it, get a shovel and some hand pruners. Dig next to a decent sized bamboo shoot (make sure it's over a year old, but not Too old), exposing the underground 'runner'. Leave at least 12 inches of this runner (I can't remember the name for it, CRS, ha ha!) on the plant you take. Use the hand pruner to cut the runner (rhizome??) loose (easier than using the shovel). Keep them moist, until you plant them. Dig a furrow that is long enough to accomodate the rhizome. If you want a fast screen, plant them about 3 or 4 feet apart. The closer the better!

I know P. Bisetti is a good one for a screen, you can check the link below for different varieties and which ones are good for screens (superb, medium and poor) and other information if you want different bamboo. I'd love it if I could reliably grown black bamboo, but you may have better luck. :)

Hope your neighbors don't burn plastic and cars like ours do..ugh!

Here is a link that might be useful: you can check here for different varieties

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 7:50PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

A few observations that may be helpful.

First, lets be clear on "cuttings." Bamboo is not like other plants (e.g., trees or shrubs): you can't take a cutting off the culms (the main stalk) or the smaller branches and get it to live. (Well, you can with some tropical bamboo, but that's not a consideration with where you live.) Also, bamboo flower very rarely, so seeds are usually not available for most species. Therefore, the way one gets more bamboo is through field divisions. All this means is that you dig up a decent-size rootball with one or more viable culms attached. The rootball should be about soccer ball size or larger, and it should be kept moist and transplanted ASAP. Bamboo can be very hard to get out of the ground without saws, pruners, and steel pry bars, so, if you send me your email address, I will send back a more detailed explanation of how to do this.

As for bamboo's aggressiveness, it can vary based on the species. I have some perfectly behaved plants that have pretty much stayed in one place for years, even thought they are "running" bamboo, and some others that have been, shall we say, vigorous. Most bamboo that will be available to you are the running kind: these send out runners in all directions and reproduce the fastest. There are also clumping bamboo that stay in one place and just get bigger each year, but it would take a lot of time and money to install a 150' hedge of this. In your Zone you should be able to grow most of the running bamboos and have them stay green the whole year round. If you are going to dig it yourself, you obviously go with what you have available that is viable in your area. If you are going to buy it at a nursery, they will know what should work. If you want to educate yourself, you should read a basic book, like "The Gardener's Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboo," by Michael Bell. Another resource for you (although not very close to where you live) is the very famous La Bambouseraie near Anduze in the south of France. The web site is:

Lastly, there is a very good web site -- Bambooweb -- that will give you photos and information on most commercially available bamboo, and their growing characteristics and hardiness.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bambooweb

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 11:00AM
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