Trimming Fernleaf

kgardens(9a Riverview)October 19, 2009

I'm trying to keep the weepy shoots from going through my neighbor's chainlink fence. My plants are planted about 3 feet from the fence with the longest shoots 4 to 5 feet long. If I trim the tips of the longer shoots to keep them on my side of the fence, will it kill that shoot? I was told I could keep the new shoots in check by cutting them at ground level to keep them controlled on the fence side of the plant and that they wouldn't then grow back. But these are not growing too close to the fence - just weeping over. My plants are young and I really don't want to thin them, just want to keep things on my side of the fence for "neighbor relations". Thanks for any advice anyone can give.


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How much of the culm are you cutting off?

As long as you do not cut too much, it will not kill the culm. I can usually cut about half the culm off of my fernleaf and have it survive and re-leaf although survival chances seem better if the culms are in sunlight...not sure why.

When cut shorter than 1/2 of the culm, it seems to lessen the chance of regrowing leaves somewhat.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 4:40PM
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kgardens(9a Riverview)

Kt -
Thanks for your response. It's good to hear from someone growing 'fernleaf'. I wouldn't be trimming very much of the culm, just about 1 foot of the 5 footers on the fence side. You wouldn't have pictures of your 'boo would you? I would love to see how you have it growing in your landscape. How old is yours? I just bought mine this spring and they seem very happy. I'm hoping to get a good screening hedge. I love the graceful look of them so far. I really don't want to have to trim other than on the backside by the fence. Thanks again for your answer.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 5:11PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Trimming them won't hurt the plant or kill the shoot. However, it can look somewhat butchered. My solution, which I use with any size bamboo that is leaning too much, is to just tie them more upright with a bit of twine (green-colored, if you're picky). You can either tie culms on opposite sides to one another, or you can put a small piece of dried bamboo (like a garden stake) into the ground and pull the culms to an upright position. If you do your tying carefully, it will be almost unnoticeable, and better to my eye than a butchered plant.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 5:12PM
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My plant is among other bamboos. I have most of my bamboos planted as experiments, and the last two years we were in a sever drought so the plant looks worse than it ever has and I've had it in the ground for 10 years now.

I will try to get a pic tomorrow and post it here.

One other thing about trimming shoots, if they are young shoots and haven't leaved out yet, they are easier to kill by trimming them, that is, if you take off too much.

I annually trim culms on one side where I walk, usually just enough to walk by without having them brush up against me, and the culms often die, but again, they are usually yearling culms, so they are still young and tender.

I would suggest cutting the whole culm out when you trim the 'leaners'. Since Fernleaf is very prolific at putting up culms, a few culms cut out here and there won't harm the plant at all, and as Kudzu said, a butchered plant is not very pleasing to the eye.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:06PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

kentuck makes a very good point about shoots, and I realize that I should have better distinguished between culms and shoots for you. A culm is a shoot that has reached its full height (hardened off) and leafed out; this happens each year by mid-summer for shoots that have come up that year. A shoot is something still growing and the growth occurs at the tip. If you whack those they are going to stay stumps. With a full-height culm, it is through growing, but leafed out, and it is easier to visualize the result of pruning it back.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 10:10PM
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kgardens(9a Riverview)

Thanks for the suggestion of tying some of the culms up. I may try that before cutting anything. And thanks too for clarifying "shoots" and "culms". I was wondering about that. I really would like to give my plants some time to grow before I get scissor happy.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 7:36AM
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