bamboo id and how to propagate?

naturelle(Toronto 6b CAN)September 9, 2005

I have clumping bamboo, which I'm really pleased with. It is well behaved. The leaves provide dappled screening and are nice looking. Right now, the tassels are out, and the bees are loving it.

I would like to id this bamboo and I'm wondering if it's possible to propagate it, as I would like to have it in other areas. I know that the spreading bamboo does so by sending out rizones, and they can quickly become a problem.

Does the clumping bamboo spread by air layering like blackberries, or do they have seeds (after flowering)? The clumps are so tight, I can't believe you can divide them, or root them from cuttings.

I've browsed a couple of the great sites that are referenced in this forum, but I have a problem in narrowing down the id. All I can say is it is clumping, and the stalks (culms?) are about 3/4" in diameter. The height is about 8'. The leaves are heart shaped with a squared off bottom and a pointy tip, dark green on top, pale green on the bottom. The leaves are alternate (i.e. every 4" or so, they occur on the other side.

I'm located in zone 6b, so this one can take cold winters.

Thanks for any help you could provide to help me narrow down the id and to answer my question re propagation.


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webgator(9 FL)

Pics would be best for trying to get an ID.

As for propagating, the easiest way to propagate ANY boo is dividing the plant into multiple plants.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 7:50PM
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naturelle(Toronto 6b CAN)

I just thought this over, and what I have may not be bamboo, unless you can confirm there is a type like this.

First off, any bamboo I know about has narrow leaves. Also, my stalks are somewhat fleshy, and when they mature they do not harden into the thick walled hard woody "pipes". They dry to form thin walled somewhat brittle casings.

Any suggestions please.

I may have to repost this in the Name this Plant forum.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 7:56PM
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In all likelihood you have Polygonum Cuspitdatum, a plant that often gets scathing comments due to it's potential to become WAY out of control, even though it sounds like yours has not.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 8:06PM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

"Right now, the tassels are out, and the bees are loving it."

I just got back from Belfast, Maine.

What they call "bamboo", but know isn't bamboo, now has flower tassels out (I didn't bother to look for bees).

It's invasive, aggressive, hard-to-eradicate Japanese knotweed.

Another bamboo-looking plant that has annual flower tassels is Arundo donax.

Bamboo very rarely has "tassels" or any kind of flower.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 8:07PM
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naturelle(Toronto 6b CAN)

Thanks for the heads up on this. You are both correct, and although the clump is doing a great job of looking good and providing a much needed screening, I will get rid of it with Roundup per the instructions I found on the internet. It's not causing any probems at this time, but they talk about the seeds being spread as well, and I have a large ravine over the back fence and would not like to have it spread. It's located on the property line against a steel panel fence and on the other side is the neighbour's paved driveway, and that's likely containing it. It does screen my side window on the main floor, and that's why if it was bamboo, I wanted to plant a couple more clumps of it.

I wonder if you could recommend what bamboo I should look for in the nursery for my situation. I suppose buying seedlings is the fastest way to get a stand up. Is starting from seeds a feasible way, i.e. re a reasonably quick screen height?



    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 10:53PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Bamboo is a little different from other plants in that they only flower infrequently (like once every 20-100 years). So seeds aren't often available, and neither are seedlings. Most of us get our bamboo from field divisions. In your climate, I recommend you start with decent size plants. If you were even able to start from seeds, it would probably be 5 years before they got to head height. You should also choose something that's winter hardy, like Phyllostachys nuda or Fargesia murielae. There are others that would work for you. Your best bet might be to contact BambooWorld in Vancouver, B.C. to see what they recommend:
Bamboo World

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:01PM
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naturelle(Toronto 6b CAN)

Thank kudzu9 for the information.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 11:24PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Good luck. Let us know what you get if you decide to take the plunge...

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 4:36PM
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naturelle - I've been watching a local farmer try to eradicate this plant by spraying 2-3 times per year, discing, mowing etc. - and it just keeps coming back. Although you read of a Roundup kill method, whatever this farmer uses has not done the job. It looks burnt to a crisp and then new culms emerge looking very healthy and he then sprays those, more keep coming. I assume that at some point the rhizomes may run out of energy but I am amazed at how long this is taking!

I wonder if yours is not too large of a patch, if carefully digging it out as intact as you can would be possible? I say carefully, because small broken pieces of the rhizome are enough to keep it going.

Unless it was a huge undertaking, if I were in your shoes and there was easy access to the rhizomes (not ROCKY soil) I think that I'd cut the stalks below the lowest branch (I'd leave the stalk stumps so that you can keep track of where the rhizomes are) and burn that stuff ASAP, then I'd try to get a shovel underneath the rhizomes to loosen them up and try to 'walk' long sections out of the ground, loosening as you go. Any new ones that came up, repeat the steps.

Perhaps someone here will tell you a better method but this is more or less how I get rid of bamboo that I want cleared out (I dont bother to cut the culms of bamboo as they are non-propogative).

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 4:50PM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

Many farmers/ranchers have licenses to use very potent chemicals not available to consumers.

With all the knotweed horror stories around, I'd be surprised if something as common retail herbicides/brush-icides would work.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 7:35PM
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naturelle(Toronto 6b CAN)

Well, I got into it, and so far not too bad.

I cut the culms about 3 feet up to get rid of the interferring foliage. Re this, I gather there is no problem in disposing of the culms, as they do not propogate from the nodes, or the like.

I dug outside of the root area and dug out the stumps and main root mass. I'll let this dry out and burn it. I cleaned out the area of all of the soil and did not find any great amount of spreading rhizomes. I suppose if I put this soil into my secondary compost pile, which is made up of soil stripped from the lawn to remove dead grass and weed infestation, any remaining small pieces of rhizomes will easily compost in time. If any shoots come out while cooking, I'll carefully strip this back. I will be re-using this soil, after a long cooking, as lawn topdressing in future, and therefore any tough pieces that survive the cooking would not survive on top of the lawn.

I found that the back of the clump was restricted from spreading by a brick border and asphalt pavement which ran across to the neighbour's house wall. There is about five feet from the pavement to my house wall and I do not see any spread, although I will keep vigilant and eradicate any new young shoots, now I know what to look for. The clump was also in the middle of a cedar hedge and was competing with the roots of the mature cedars.

I appreciate the help all of you have given me, and prevented what would have been a larger cleanup in future.

Now I have to decide on a nice plant for that area to replace the empty spot, as I need something to screen my side window from the neighbour's side door and driveway. The knotweed was really a nice looking plant, and ideally filled that purpose, with the elegant stalks and the broad leaves, which provided as kind of airey screening. It also thrived in a somewhat demanding and semi-shaded environment, so that speaks for it's noted hardiness. It had the ideal height and spread. Oh well>.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 12:07PM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

"knotweed was really a nice looking plant"

agreed. and yes, what I saw in Maine last week was knotweed purposely planted on property lines as hedges.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 12:24PM
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knotweed sounds like a vigorous and beautiful plant. Maybe I'll try some sometime.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 4:01PM
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