Phyllostachys Vivax: Perched water table? Root rot?

shinyandfreeFebruary 28, 2014

Hi All! I've been lurking for quite a while but this is my first post. I've got a number of bamboos in pots but one, my Vivax is not looking very good at all.
I guess I should start by confessing my sins. I have a tendency to read half a paragraph, get an idea, run out and do it, then read the rest of the paragraph and find out I did everything wrong.

#1 I put a 5 gallon plant into a very large pot. I now understand this can lead to overwatering issues.

#2 I got lazy and didn't put gravel in the bottom. Turns out this probably added usable space to the container. So, I got lucky even though my intentions were bad.

#3 I noticed that the plant was looking kind of bad (new leaves were dying and the whole plant was looking a bit yellow) and that the soil was saturated after a long period of rain (Portland, winter) so I got the bright idea of injecting sand into the bottom of the container using a piece of PVC pipe and a dowel rod. I did this. I am very sorry.

Since then I read up on perched water tables. I moved the plant out of the rain. I elevated the pot about 5 inches and installed four wicks in the bottom of the pot. I bought a moisture meter and have been tracking moisture on the top and bottom of the container. After 3 days with the wicks I'm still seeing saturated soil near the bottom of the container and even several inches above the bottom. Finally, today I noticed most of the leaves were getting spotted and one appeared to have mold growing on the top of the leaf (see photo). Is it root rot?

I used Black Gold general purpose potting soil. Has anyone used this stuff. Is it just a sponge or what? Perhaps I need to elevate the pot more? Should I re-pot with another potting soil? Please help! Be gentle, it's my first time.

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botanicalbill(9b SWFlorida)

You could repot and mix in chicken grit or sand. Chicken grit is a very, very fine gravel. You can also buy some NAPA floor dry, (NOT item 8822, you do not want diatomaceous earth). This is fired clay, so it wont break down, it holds moisture but not too much. I have used this stuff as 100% of my soil in many potted plants.
On thing I have found with my bamboos, is that they love bark in the soil. So rather than gravel at the bottom of the pot I put pine bark mulch. It drains and once the roots get down that far, they root to the bark.

This post was edited by botanicalbill on Wed, Mar 26, 14 at 19:57

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:53PM
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If I'm following correctly, I don't see that you have committed any great sins here.

How about a photo of the whole thing. bamboo, pot, and surrounding area.

Where did the 5 gal. pot of Vivax come from ?
How established was it ?

We have some bad plant weather this year, with freeze, thaw, freeze. Depending on where this plant came from, that may be part of the problem. If the roots were not protected from those solid 3 day freezes, that may be the problem.

The in-ground Vivax groves around here all had some culms brought down by the freezing rain, but are fine otherwise.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 4:01AM
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