bamboo lost all leaves after planting

KeithInKeyLargoNovember 14, 2013

I just planted eight bamboo plants, bought from a small backyard nursery, grown in a beautiful yard full of magnificent, huge bamboos. I planted 2 Dwarf Budda Belly (B.vulgaris Wamin), 4 Weaver's (B. textilis gracilis) and 2 Timor Black (B. lako). One week later, the Budda Belly and Weaver's are doing fine. All the leaves on the Lakos turned brown (some fell off, some stayed on), and all the few little branch shoots that were starting to come off the culms also turned brown. I had left town just after planting and my neighbor watered them while I was gone. I'm sure he put adequate water on them - he watered twice a day once they started looking bad - I had told him if the leaves curled at all that they weren't getting enough water, and please water more - I'm sure he did that. They were in 2 gallon pots - all the other bamboo varieties were very root bound, the Lakos were not. I hope the Lakos make it - I've got them all on a drip watering system (water 2x day) - how long should it be before I see some signs of life, if they will make it?

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They may not have been getting enough water. You more than likely have sandy soil there and they need to be watered constantly, or kept constantly wet for a few weeks. They may have dried out in between waterings.

One other possibility also, is it was too wet. If they were in standing water it is not good either.

Also, your soil may be to 'salty' there to grow the Lako.

If they got overly dried out, then you will see new grow soon if they are still alive and if you keep watering them.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 7:53PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Were these plants that had been stabilized in pots for at least several months, or were they freshly dug? What you described could be the result of transplant shock if they were fresh divisions. In such cases, the plants look good for a week or so after being dug, and then shock sets in. They may recover from this, or not.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 3:34AM
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hi guys. i have sort of have a similar thing happen to some of my plantings. i too have always heard what the poster mentioned regarding leaf curl. does the leaf curl halways mean lack of water or can it signify something else? i ask because i have some plantings that have the leaf curl/yellowing tips but i thought i was watering enough (they too have been in the ground less than 6 months) and i have clay soil so it wasn't just draining away into nowhere land. perhaps i overfertilized them this summer too. that is possible since my specialty is definitely not patience and i want numerous groves tomorrow Ha. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 9:33PM
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In the heat of the Summer here, no matter how wet the soil is, the leaves curl on many of my bamboos. It is a way to conserve moisture within the plant.

Heavy clay soil will hold water much better than sandy soil so the leaves could be curling as a result of rootrot and/or too much fertilizer too soon before the plant is established.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 9:57PM
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i see! thanks kentuck. i am guessing my leaf curl is a result of a really hot summer then as it appears to be looking better now. but leaves falling off entirely is not ever normal for summer heat exposure as the poster of this thread had

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Leaves falling off entirely is usually a result from stress due to drought conditions, but can be caused from overwatering stress, among other things.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 6:23PM
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kentuck, with all of the leaves dropping/removed/eaten before a winter for whatever reason, how common it that a bare bamboo (new unestablished planting in it's first or second year) makes it through and re-leafes in the spring with new shoots also? i would think without leaves it is a goner and can't photosynthesize but is that not a factor since the bamboo is basically dormant in winter? i guess this scenario would apply to KeithinKeyLargo or even new first year plantings that goes into winter with all leaves eaten by deer (in my case) or dropped during a hard winter.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Depending on the type of bamboo and where you are located, they may NOT go completely dormant in Winter.

The green-culmed bamboos can synthesize without leaves, but we still do not know what caused the leaves to drop, so there is a possibility that it will recover but only time will tell.

I never give up on bamboos. I've had some dry up in pots only to set them aside and then after a rain, they start growing new shoots. Every situation is different but give the bamboo a chance.

My oldhamii, when they were first planted and small, used to get froze completely to the ground the first three years, and would lose most, if not all of their leaves a couple years after that. Each year, each plant recovered and increased in size from the previous year.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 9:31PM
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wow. i had no idea that they could synthesize without leaves or that they do not go completely dormant sometimes, incredible. and that is very interesting on the oldhamii! i have some in pots inside but thought they would get hammered in the ground here. average winter lows are in the 15's with really hot dry summers. do you think there is any chance they could make it here?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:12AM
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I'm in zone 8b here and lows get into the teens also. It has gotten as low as 6F here before and several nights in the single digits and the oldhamii survived.

I believe it is listed as cold hardy to 21F but 15F is more accurate from my experience. Once established, it will only get some leaf burn on the coldest of nights and mine had/have no north winter wind protection, so with protection such as on the south side of a building or house, they may fare much better.

Just be sure to keep it watered well before a cold spell, and water regularly in the dry parts of the Summer and you should be fine.

We had several years of drought here and I could not keep up watering during the driest spells and mine died back, but still recovered nicely. The largest mine ever grew were about 45 feet in height and just over 4 inches in diameter.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Awesome information. I had no idea that was a remote possibility. What exactly does watering before cold spells accomplish? I had no idea i should consider watering during the winter as i had always been told the bamboo was dormant.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Also i forgot to mention that moat of our winds come from the South here so would that change your opinion of southside planting? Of course it would be the most sun but didn't know if cold southern wids changed that. Also maybe i could grow it against the side of my greenhouse and try wrapping it in the winter until it has been there several years, what do you think?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Not sure about the exact reasoning behind the watering during the Winter, but it does help. I've heard several explanations. I even turned on a sprinkler and left it on all night on some sub-freezing nights. The water kept the plant from freezing although ice covered a lot of it by morning.

Again, I'm not sure where you are located, but the idea is to protect the bamboo from cold weather and cold winds. The warmer you keep the plant, the better it will come through the Winter.

At another place I have out in the country, the woods are very thick, and I can keep many kinds of bamboo there without cold damage, but I cannot here. The woods hold in the warmth from the daytime.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 9:45PM
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I'd love to do some research about that..watering during winter. I am also in a heavily forested area in Nevada City, CA (although the bamboos themselves have good open canopies for sun) so the cold winds can't really surge through here without being broken up by conifers like you mentioned at your other property. You meant this mainly as a strategy for something like the Oldhamii which would be on the cut off as far as temperature here correct? Because all of my running bamboos are rated for much lower temperatures than what we get here typically so I think they'll be fine without a winter watering but if it somehow helped the plant then that is a really cool strategy. The guy down the street from me with over 200 bamboo species flourishing likes to apply Fall and Winter Lawn Food to his plantings so I will try that as an experiment too. Maybe I need to start another thread Kentuck but I will also be trying some stuff in my new greenhouse with bamboo starts this winter and was curious if you had done any of that. Take care!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Bamboos grow differently in different areas of the country, so I am speaking from my experience here. The oldhamii will do much better in warmer climates and our temps which have gotten into the triple digits pose no problems whatsoever for the oldhamii. You cannot let the ground dry out during the Winter months or the plant will die. Here, I have different soils but the oldhamii is in well drained sandy soil so watering is a must. If you have heavy soil, then you may not need to water as often, but watering during the cold nights can also increase the temp of the area watered as I mentioned earlier.

I fertilize in early Spring and sometimes throughout the Summer once a month or so. It depends on the plant and what I what to see from it. I refrain from fertilizing newly transplanted divisions as this can harm the new division.

Some bamboos do not like high nitrogen fertilizer so you may have to do some trial and error.

I used to have over 400 potted plants in my greenhouses but in the past two years I have reduced that to under 100. I have just cold frame greenhouses and use a kerosene and/or electric heater on only the coldest nights. The bamboo will grow throughout the Winter in the greenhouses as long as the temps are high enough and this will give you a much larger plant by next Spring.

Not sure what you mean by bamboo 'starts'. I haven't had a lot of luck with bamboo cuttings trying to get them to take root. Most runners are almost impossible to get to take root, but clumpers are easier to root, especially the bambusas. I find it easier to just dig divisions and keep them in pots for a year or so before selling or transplanting instead of trying to get root cuttings to grow. I just don't have the time to care for the cuttings.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:53PM
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I've kept lots of water on my new bamboos, and my black lakos that lost all their leaves have new green shoots emerging from the nodes. They are growing very slowly, but are gradually getting bigger. I think they are going to make it.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:49PM
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