unknown bamboo

MiaOKCDecember 4, 2011

Hello everyone. I'm visiting from the Oklahoma Gardening forum where we've had quite the lively discussion regarding bamboo, and I'm coming to the experts here for further info. A house I'm purchasing has bamboo in the backyard. I believe it's a running bamboo, maybe Golden Bamboo, that hasn't been restrained. There's a corner that I now think isn't a true bamboo at all, maybe Arundo Donax or river cane. When we first looked at the house, I had a negative impression of bamboo in general, thinking it's invasive, etc, but no specific reason experience or recollection of how I'd formed a negative opinion. After researching it and getting lots of input from the OK Gardening forum, our plan is to install a rhizome barrier in late winter/early spring. I see the benefit to having it, as it's an evergreen privacy screen for the pool and a visual barrier between two-story backyard neighbors (who I didn't even know had two-story houses until I looked it up on our county website - the bamboo is that effective at screening!) I do want to contain it so I have a lawn area and vegetable garden area. It's popping up in the lawn and flower beds so that's why I think it doesn't have a barrier or if it did, it's failed.

Can you all please look at my photos and see if I'm on the right track with my guess at Golden Bamboo and Arundo Donax? Way up high at the top the canes are yellow. I have a few people interested in getting transplants and want to start with the right info. Would it be OK to dig the transplants from the areas that will eventually be outside where my rhizome barrier is?

Here is a link that might be useful: bamboo photos

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Yes, it looks like you have Arundo donax, and one of the Phyllostachys...probably P. aurea aka 'Golden Fishpole Bamboo'.

Do some of the bamboo culms have compressed or close internodes at the bottome of the culms?


    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 2:09PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I agree with kentuck on the ID. It's some kind of Phyllostachys. As for digging up bamboo, you can do "transplants," and late fall through early spring is the best time to do this as the bamboo is semi-dormant. However, what you need to do to be successful is to dig up a large rootball (basketball size) with at least one culm, and try not to disturb the roots a lot; this is called taking a "division." Because you have an established grove, digging will be hard as the root system will be interlaced and tough. You will need cutting tools to get through the roots and free up the rootball. If you want step-by-step instructions, email me and I'll send you something I wrote up a while ago. You are correct that you should have a barrier in your situation.

In my view, your main issue is the presence of Arundo donax, which is a very undesirable plant. It is more invasive than bamboo, may out-compete the bamboo in time, and often looks ugly in the winter when it browns up. I would do my best to completely eliminate it, but that is very hard to do in the first place and even harder when it's intermixed with the bamboo. Since it reproduces from even small plant pieces left in the ground, physical eradication often isn't enough and you have to resort to chemicals. Below is a link discussing this. I believe, but don't know, that standard chemical treatment to get rid of Arundo donax will not harm the bamboo. If you go this route, try it in one small area first.

P.S.: To keep your friends on talking terms with you, try not to give them bamboo rootballs that have any traces of Arundo donax in them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arundo donax

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 3:48PM
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Thanks Kt and Kudzu. I will have to check on the internodes when we are back there mid-next week. I know there was a groove running vertically on the cane, but I didn't check enough of them to see what variations there are.

Kudzu, I would be most appreciative of an email with any help you can provide. My email is MiaOKC at yahoo dot com. From online perusal, it seems that a professional trencher and/or chainsaw is in my future. I don't care for the look of the Arundo even now while it's green, a little scraggly for my taste, but I know this is spread from the next door neighbor, who in turn got it from HIS backyard neighbor, where I can see it lines the whole fence line (two houses over and catty-corner back to us.) I fear for the future - a possible eternal fight against Arundo on our hands. Next door says he's spent the last year periodically attacking it. He thinks he'll get the remainder in his yard cut down this year.

I need to get a better understanding of where the bamboo in my yard has spread to... i.e., if it's spread into the rear neighbor's yard so far, me putting a barrier all they way around the grove on my side might be an exercise in futility. If I can't convince the neighbors to contain on their side (presuming they have a grove on their side), I may be better off doing only the side facing my lawn, to create a perimeter I can maintain and redirect any new growth their way. The seller says the neighbors all love it, haven't had a problem with it in 11 years, but I will only know for sure once I speak with them.

Any recommended suppliers for rhizome block?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:43PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I hope the allusion to a chainsaw is only as a pruning device. I have known people to try to use one to excavate bamboo, but that it a fairly suicidal approach! As for the barrier, your thinking is good. If it has spread into another yard, it would only be useful to put in barrier on the property line if your neighbor wants to eradicate it. If not, don't bother, and just maintain the perimeter you want in your yard. I can tell you that the rhizomes have probably extended a couple of feet at least beyond where you see culms. However, you should just put barrier in where you want to and dig out any rhizomes that are outside it. Unlike the Arundo, bamboo will typically not regrow from small pieces of rhizome left in the ground. You will be able to get the bamboo under control with some digging and some barrier; the Arundo may be another story.

I've sent you digging tips, and I will also send you a recommendation on where to get barrier.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 9:14PM
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I've had good luck digging up bamboo by unearthing the running rhizome and then snipping it with pruning shears. As far as bamboo being invasive, it can be- so why not grow it on your neighbors property instead, ha ha ha! :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 5:23PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

That technique works just fine...as long as the rhizome hasn't gotten too established. If it's more than several months old, it could well remain viable and give you a surprise a year or two later.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Thanks for the additional information. As an update, we moved into the house about two weeks ago, so I've had a chance to get up close and personal with the bamboo. I couldn't find but one or two culms that may have had compressed or close internodes at the bottom, and I am such a novice I wouldn't even swear to those two. They did not look as definitive a characteristic as the google pics I looked up. So more pics may be in order in the next few weeks.

Also, the arundo has gotten brown and scraggly as promised, and I am happy to spray it if necessary. I've spoken with one of my rear neighbors, who told me that, contrary to what the seller intimated, he and the seller had both done major work to try to rid themselves of the bamboo, including cutting it down, pouring diesel on it, etc. Ha! So much for "all the neighbors love it." :) He did say the other rearward neighbor would not participate in eradication or containment methods.

So, without full participation from all the affected properties, I plan to mow/snip/dig the handful of culms that are 20 ft out from the main clump and in my lawn area, and try to trench for a rhizome barrier to keep the bamboo contained within my property. I would bet the rhizomes in the yard are at least a year old, as I don't think the seller did any lawn maintenance last year - he was "over it" I think and ready to move on. We also had horrible drought in Oklahoma, so most landscapes are just burned up.

So, here's the plan:
1. Kill Arundo
2. Remove runners from yard/flower bed areas
3. Trench and install rhizome barrier to keep the grove in the grove.

I also have a friend that would love to have some transplants to put on her acreage, so have shared the digging instructions you helpfully provided. Wish us luck!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 6:36PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I do wish you good luck. Please report back after you have completed your undertaking.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 9:00PM
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I think I'd attack it this way if it were my yard:

1) sever all rhizomes at the point you want to contain the plant
2) sever all rhizomes along your property line (rhizomes that are coming back in from the escaped bamboo in other yards)
3) remove all rhizomes from flower beds
4) remove shoots from lawn rhizomes (don't let them leaf out). Repeat all year long until they exhaust themselves and die.
5) If I don't want to wait all year and if I'm bored and want to do a lot of digging, then I'd remove the rhizomes from the lawn.

Note that rhizome barrier must be properly installed, and may still fail at some point in the future. With bamboo growing in adjacent yards, it seems pointless to me to install the barrier. Just trench or rhizome prune once a year.

Just my opinion.

And I'm hoping the diesel didn't contaminate too much of your soil.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:10PM
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Hi there, Can you help me find a trustfull provider of muso bamboo from China? Am am from Romania and I am interested in groving such a specia.
Thank you

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 4:43PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Unfortunately, you probably won't get much help here. Importation of bamboo to the U.S. from other countries is essentially prohibited, so no one here has experience buying from China. Do a Google search: moso bamboo is very common, and you should have no problem finding it in Europe.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:13AM
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