Bamboo Species and Propagation Question

Moogle8(9)April 1, 2013

I have a some bamboo that I bought but I do not know the species (e.g. running or clumping). Going off the pictures, would this be a running black bamboo?

The reason for this is I want to know what's the best way for me to propagate this. I've tried a couple times with rhizome cutting and culm cutting with rooting hormones but I've never had any luck (though done during the winter).

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Yes, it looks like running black bamboo (Ph. nigra). You can't propagate runners from culm or branch cuttings. You can propagate them from a piece of rhizome, although that is usually hit-or-miss, and, if you succeed, it will take you at least 5 years to grow a decent size plant using that method.

The best thing to do if you want more plants is to make a division: unpot your plant and use a root saw to take out 1/4 to 1/3 of the root ball. Cut a pie-shaped piece and cut all the way down. Do not cut off the culms attached to the division. Re-pot immediately and keep the new division out of strong sun for a week or two.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:42PM
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Moogle8(9)

Okay, thanks.

I think I'll try the division and maybe take out a couple of rhizomes in the process for long term growth.

Few follow up questions:
- Will I need to cut off some of the branches? Or will 1/3 of the root ball be enough to support the current culms in that division.
- How big should the rhizomes be? The ones I've been cutting around the sides have been around 2'' with a bud growing at the end of it.
- Would cutting the root ball in half give both of them a better chance of surviving? Or is this a bit risky?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 5:29PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Don't cut off anything aboveground. You may lose some leaves from shock, but it won't be fatal. Some people do top the culms, but I'm not convinced that helps, and anything you cut off will never grow back.

As far as rhizomes, 6" is the shortest I've ever used, and I don't use the end. Ideally you have a piece that is long enough to have at least 2-3 nodes and plenty of roots coming off those.

Cutting the root ball in half is not a problem since you appear to have such a large plant. I've even cut a rootball in four pieces with larger plants. Sometimes the size of the division you take is determined by where the culms are located and where the best places are to cut between them.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:04PM
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Moogle8(9)

Okay, I think I have a good idea of what I need to do. Will probably want to grab an electric saw for the root divisions...

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 12:12PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Moogle-
If you are talking about a Sawzall-type saw, that will work fine. After you take the division, do not disturb the roots any further, and immediately re-pot.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Moogle8(9)

Yeah, wasn't sure about the name of that type of saw. I've seen a video of a guy cutting through roots with a Sawzall for division. It wasn't as big as the one I'm doing, but it looks like I should be able to slowly push inwards as I cut from both sides to cut mines in half.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 9:22PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Moogle-
Yes...just wanted to make sure you weren't talking about a chain saw! I just start at the top and cut down, then I move to the second location and do the same thing.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 9:57PM
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Moogle8(9)

I have a bit more common sense than that :D.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 11:15PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

No insult intended...just not sure what was meant by "electric saw," and I have actually known two people who tried a chainsaw for divisions!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 12:21AM
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Moogle8(9)

Yeah it wouldn't surprise me.
Thanks for the heads up though. It's always better to be explicit rather than implicit when dealing with things like this IMO.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:43AM
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beautifulbamboo(z8 FL)

good advice from everyone but a couple important things not yet mentioned. when doing root divisions of bamboo it is necessary to supply the new divisions with PLENTY of water for several weeks after (we give a light spray of water during daylight hours) and the importance of planting the bamboo in a rich mix of organic matter (compost, manure, etc) plus woodchips or pearlite for aeration. adding a high nitrogen time release fertilizer at the time of dividing is useful too.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:05PM
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ynbambus

when propagating from rhizome, time of propagation and age of rhizome matter a lot too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Moogle8(9)

Thought I'd follow up on my results. The 2 divisions seems to have taken and I've been seeing a lot of new growth :).



    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 3:33PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Moogle8-
Congratulations. Those look great!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 6:08PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

So you can actually grow running bamboo in pots without having it... running? I was thinking that maybe it's easy for the rhizomes to find a way out through the draining holes and invade the environment. We live in a rental and the owner would consider the bamboo a weed (!!) so I was reluctant to start growing bamboo in pots. But waiting to move in our own place is what kills me. And my son really wants to have his own bamboo to take care of.

Btw, lovely bamboo you have there!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 3:47PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Forgot to say: bamboo would be potted on a patio with morning sun and some afternoon sun.
Than you for any input.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 3:58PM
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beautifulbamboo(z8 FL)

for those who would like to keep running bamboo in a container, i'd suggest using the one-pot-inside-another technique. Start with a large decorative 15 to 30 gal container. Make sure its mouth is wider than the base. Inside that put a similar size plastic pot. Place a 3-gal size bamboo into the plastic pot filled with a light but rich potting soil mixture. Apply a high nitrogen time release fertilizer and you're good to go. By putting a small size plant in a large size container you give it room to grow and by putting the one container in another, you are easily able to pull it out to trim off any escaping runners before they escape into the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: Beautiful Bamboo blog

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 6:07PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Sagolover-
beautifulbamboo has a good suggestion, but you also won't have a problem with running bamboo in a pot as long as the pot's sitting in a saucer. Unless you totally ignore what it is doing, it's not going to somehow sneak out and invade anything. And, even if it did, digging up the runners would be about 5 minutes work unless you decided to ignore the situation for several years.

In addition, since you are in Zone 10, you have many great choices in clumping bamboo, which you can also grow in pots.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 10:36PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Thank you so much for responding, kudzu and beautifulbamboo!

My son's birthday will be next month and it would be nice to give him a beautiful potted bamboo as a bday gift. I will do some research on the link above and... maybe just get more guts to do it.

My patio is cement and out of it there is a rather narrow green space where all the roses and other shrubs are planted by the alley that crosses between buildings. I guess it wouldn't be so hard to keep an eye on the bamboo. I have my plants on the patio and I am taking care of them several times a day.

Maybe I should just open a new thread with my questions, I don't want to hijack Moogle's thread. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:55AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

SagoLover-
Running bamboo is only a problem when people plant it in the ground, do no maintenance on it for 3-4 years, and then are shocked that it's run. I have about 70-80 bamboo, most in the ground, but quite a few in pots. Of the bamboo in the ground, some have barriers and some do not. I do a little maintenance to take out runners each year and that's it. My yard is not overrun.

As for potted bamboo, I have never had a running bamboo send a rhizome out of a hole more than 1-2 feet, and that was after it sat in the pot, on the ground, and I didn't bother to check on it for a year or two. When I saw the rhizome, I pulled it out of the ground and snipped it off. End of story.

Trust me: pick a bamboo you like, pot it up, and don't be neurotic about it. I think you may have been influenced by urban horror stories. If bamboo were as big a threat as some people make it to be there wouldn't be room for any people in Asia.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 3:06AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Kudzu, finally somebody that encourages me about starting growing bamboo! If it's not that fast that it will run off the pot (!!) we could certainly do it. When we'll have a place of our own, well then we'll look into placing barriers and stuff but until then... I will give my son a big surprise on his bday next month.

Thank you again so much!

He would like Phylostacys Nigra the most or a few others I would have to search about. By any chance, do you know reliable nurseries/growers in SoCal to order it from? I could also pick it up. I've searched online and found only a few that were too far or were focused more on the accessories to grow bamboo.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 1:13PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Go to my "My Page" link here on GardenWeb and send me an email telling me what city you live in and I will see if I know of any closeby nurseries.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 2:17PM
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Moogle8(9)

The big wooden pot is actually elevated a bit with some bricks and sitting on some decorative cement with small rocks in it. The roots themselves shouldn't be strong enough to create new holes in the cement, but they would be able to enlarge existing holes.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:09PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

In my own experience I've never seen bamboo rhizomes damage concrete in any way. A rhizome could travel through a large crack or hole in a foundation or a sidewalk but it wouldn't increase the amount of damage. I have seen a rhizome damage an asphalt driveway by causing a hump, but that was only in the summer when the driveway was hot and really pliable and the rhizome got under the driveway through the adjacent dirt.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 12:26PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I've found some Black bamboo (Ph. nigra) for sale online. It will be shipped with the actual culms, not only rhizomes. Could it be damaged with transportation to the point where it will not survive?
My son's bday is coming, so I have to find some for his bday gift. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 8:04PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I ship bamboo in trades all the time, and, if it's packed properly, it will be fine. Be aware that the culms will probably be topped to shorten them for shipping, and -- unlike other plants -- they will not grow back. However, this is much better having a real root ball and culms, than just some rhizomes. The worst that can happen if it is not packed properly is that the culms may get broken, but this should not damage the health of the rootball.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 9:30PM
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old_eagle(7b - North Texas)

I don't know if this is the proper forum, but the best I can find.
Years ago numerous stores sold "Calcutta Bamboo" fishing poles about 20 feet long that we used for threshing pecans.
I have been unable to find less than wholesale quantities of the poles but would be interested in propagating some.
Can anyone suggest a source?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 1:23PM
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