Can I cut tall culms to transport them?

bigoledude(SE Louisiana)November 27, 2013

My trailer is only 17-feet long. Many of the culms in these clumps I'm digging up are 30-40 feet tall. Will I lose a lot more of my plants if I "top" them. I've read here that leaving as many leaves as possible is best. But, the clumps are so thick, it's hard to tell how much foliage is on which culms.

I have the material to keep the root-balls moist after digging and during transporting them to my son's house 1 1/2 hours away.

We have to cover a long distance along my son's property with the plants I will dig. I was hoping to be able spread these plants thinly. The consensus seems to be that leaving a long rhizome is best. Well, this clump I'm digging up is so thick that I can't imagine getting a lot of rhizome with each culm I separate from the clump.

So, any suggestions on what steps I might take to get the best results in digging, separating and planting this bamboo would be greatly appreciated.

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bigoledude(SE Louisiana)

A local guy told me that I could lay the older culms in a shallow trench and that plants would sprout from the nodes in the cane. Is this so? Does it take much longer to establish this way?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 5:37AM
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What kind of bamboo do you have?

When I transplant any of my Bambusas, I top the culms about 3 to 4 feet in height, and there and there are no branches or leaves on them, just a culm. I do this around February and they will grow just fine, so you do not need to have limbs on them for them to survive although limbs and leaves would be better. They will stay that way until late Summer, and sometimes even the next year before starting to put up new shoots, but as long as the culms remain green, they are alive and will grow.

If the culm is attached to a living plant, and you lay it in the trench with the branches at each node sticking out above the ground, then the culm should produce a new plant at each node and start putting up shoots, but the chances of a single culm, cut off from the mother plant, and laid in the ground will most likely die. Divisions are the best way to make new plants.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 8:14AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

First, you realize that what you cut off will never grow back, correct? If you can't transport them without topping them, leave as much as you can and keep the remaining foliage well-covered with a tarp that you tie down tightly to prevent dessication on the way back. I have transported pretty tall bamboo in my trailer by tying twine to the top of the culm and gently bending it around in a 180 degree loop. However, this depends very much on the diameter and flexibility of the particular bamboo. Some can be bent relatively easily and others are brittle and will snap in two all of a sudden.

Second, if you try to separate culms from a root ball, you will seriously decrease your chances of success. With this size bamboo you need large root balls that are disturbed as little as possible. If you take a single culm with a large root ball, that's fine. If you take a large root ball with several culms, you need to not disturb them or try to separate them out.

Third, the trenching technique will only work with some types of clumping bamboo, and, if it succeeds, it will yield small starts that will take years to size up.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 4:20AM
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bigoledude(SE Louisiana)

I am hiring a guy with with a spade-digger to dig the clumps. This device is mounted on a sorta large Bobcat and, it looks like large, sharp, ice-scoop. He can remove a 48-inch portion of rootball with each extraction.

My plan was to sawzall these clumps into many small root-pieces. However, based on y'alls experienced advice, I'll cut them into larger portions to give me more roots. Now, we might have to buy a couple-more large clumps to cover the length of run we wanted to cover.

How deep should I ask him to dig? I would like to keep the load as light as possible and, to make each planting portion easier to handle.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 8:30PM
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It depends on the species and the type of soil it is growing in, but most rhizomes grow one foot or less below the surface, so digging a few inches below the rhizomes should suffice.

I'd like to see a picture of that digging machine.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 8:39PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I agree with kentuck. As long as you get under the rhizomes -- a foot or so down -- you'll be good.

I do all my digging by hand and find that something the size of a basketball or beach ball is adequate. Just please don't try to separate out culms or cut the root ball into pieces smaller than I describe. It's a different type of root system from other plants, and you have to get away from thinking of this as if you are digging up some large daylilies that you can then separate into small chunks for re-planting.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 9:45PM
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bigoledude(SE Louisiana)

Hey Kentuck. I tried to email you some pics but, you don't have "Your Page" set-up to receive emails.

Here is a few sites you may go to. I thought these were the coolest attachments ever! The YouTube video is the best.

Please post here your thoughts on these scoops?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 12:02AM
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I think those scoops will work, but as I stated, you don't want to rip the soil away from the rhizomes or loosen it too much. The video seemed to show the soil mostly falling away from the roots, which would be bad for the bamboo, and like Kudzu stated, you don't want to divide the large rootball into too much smaller individual plants as they more than likely will die. I was thinking that you might be talking about one of these scoops:

They use these here and I have seen some really large ones that can dig and transport trees with 8 inch trunks. They would be great for large bamboo rootballs and would save some back breaking work.

The scoop in the video that you posted would work better in heavy soils such as clay and it would need to be moist, but it would work. I'd like to try it myself here one day. If you do divide the 'scooped-out' big rootball into smaller divisions, again, don't make them too small and try not to disturb too much soil around the rhizomes.

Good luck and let us know how it works for you.


P.S. I should be able to receive emails and photos. I'll check into the problem and see if I can correct it.

This post was edited by kentuck_8b on Wed, Dec 4, 13 at 21:49

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 9:47PM
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