Rhizome Pruning

gulfcoastmamaSeptember 7, 2009

Hi. We planted some Golden Bamboo and have dug a trench surrounding it to a depth of 12". We are not installing a rhizome barrier, but instead planned to just cut the rhizomes as they appear in the trench. We planned to fill in the trench with sand, but have not gotten around to this task yet and the trenches are empty.

In the past few weeks, many rhizomes have entered the trench and we actually found some that had grown completely across the trench and into the lawn. We are distressed by this rate of rhizome growth, which is much faster than we had anticipated. Here is the question, which may be foolish to people expert in bamboo, but is critical for us in deciding whether or not this situation is tenable for us. We are kind of freaking out, thinking we will spend the greater parts of our summers and falls digging these rhizomes out of the ground! But now I am reading in a few places on the net that it is not necessary to remove the rhizome from the ground (the parts that make their way across the trench), it is only necessary to sever them.

SO: which way is it? Do we ned to trim these rhizomes on a weekly basis BEFORE they make their way across the trench(and into the lawn), or is it okay for them to grow this way for weeks and months, and as long as we sever them in the trench at some point in time each season the part that has traveled to the lawn can remain in the ground?

I hope this question makes sense. We cannot spend our lives digging up rhizomes, and it seems these things are going to be really happy where we have sited them!!

Thank you for your time.

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No, you are going to have to remove the rhizome if it has spread into the lawn area that you want to keep bamboo free--just cutting will not ensure that it won't spread--it will. Believe me, I UNDERSTAND your concern. Bamboo is the ONLY plant I have literally had NIGHTMARES about. I too have mine currently growing in a trenched out area that is adjacent to woods (it is not supposed to grow into dark woods and I cut the any rhizomes that are crossing into the trench on the sides and the front of the grove. I find in my zone that I do checking and pruning twice a year (spring and autumn). Yes, even so, I had a rhizome or two spread--I panicked and quickly cut the rhizome out. They give quick privacy, are pretty year-round, drought tolerant and deer don't touch them but they are not low maintenance plants--unless you want to find yourself surrounded by it in the middle of a grove.--Been there, done that--I MOVED!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 2:44PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Take a deep breath and don't freak out. I grow my bamboo without a barrier and I spend anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour per year per clump. If you catch them in the trench, instead of letting things go, as you have, you will have no problems. When I find a rhizome that has gotten into the lawn I chop it and pry it out with a pickaxe. Generally, if the rhizome is only a month or two old, you can just leave the chopped off end in the ground...but I like to pull it out for peace of mind. The rhizomes are not going to need weekly pruning. A few minutes a few times a year should keep it in check. Bamboo are great plants, but you need to be regular in your maintenance. However, if you are going to continue to worry about this, or find regular maintenance a problem, you should either install barrier or replace the bamboo with something that will be less of a concern.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 7:02PM
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dcballard(z6 SE MI)

It may be climate dependent, but I don't generally pull up the cut rhizomes from the lawn. The few times I had shoots in the grass, it was because a rhizome was missed during pruning. It provided good direction on where to go back over an area. Then it just gets mowed.

Another consideration is whether you have turf grass that is self repairing. Kentucky bluegrass spreads by rhizomes and is self repairing. I have turf-type fescue and it doesn't seem to like it when I disturb the roots.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 3:33PM
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