Is Winter a Good Time to Plant Bamboo?

A perspective customer from Orlando, FL writes:
I am considering getting my partner a bamboo plant for Christmas. Is this a good time to plant or should I wait until spring?

My response:
Bamboos can be planted year round. Each season has its own advantage. Bamboos planted in the winter have more time to develop strong root systems in their new location and a well-established root system is one of the most important factors in determining how many new shoots will appear in the summer growth season.

If you wait until spring or summer, you will see new growth almost immediately. That can be very gratifying especially for first-time bamboo growers who are not yet familiar with bamboo growth patterns. But it is also important to note that a bamboo planted in the spring will usually produce smaller and fewer canes during that first growing season than a bamboo planted in the winter, which would have had several months to develop a strong root system.

Why are the leaves on my new plants turning brown?

A customer in Jacksonville, FL recently wrote:
I have a question for you about the giant bamboo and the Asian Lemon you installed a couple weeks ago. I have been watering for 2 hours per day as I was advised. I am seeing that many of the leaves are brown now. Especially on the giant bamboo. Is it possible I am watering too much? They are not curling up so it seems they are getting enough water. I am hoping this is normal part of the shock a plant goes through. We have had some cold nights but only a couple hours below freezing and that might have been 25-27 degrees.

We are happy with the plants overall and look forward to seeing them really grow next year.

My response:
Very often newly planted bamboos shed leaves during their transition period. As you suggested, it's part of the shock of being moved into a new location. It is possible the cold weather might have damaged some of the Oldhamii's leaves. Younger plants of that variety are more susceptible to freezes than the Asian Lemon are but even if that's the case, the plants will recover as the weather warms up. To determine the health of your bamboos, see if new leaves are forming. Even when some leaves brown and fall off after being transplanted or during a cold snap, new leaves are also appearing. Regarding your question about irrigation, as long as the plants are not sitting in standing water, you are not over-watering.

You are right that in a few months when warm weather returns all you bamboos will explode with new growth. It's good to keep an eye on them but it's also important to remember, bamboos are very hardy plants. Even when stressed they will continue to grow.


How Much Should I Water Newly Planted Bamboo?

Customer's Question:
What should be the daily watering schedule after the first 30 days? I've been faithful to the twice-daily watering, and the bamboo is doing well. If I can maintain the twice-daily watering for a second month or even through the dry winter months, would that be good, or would that be too much?

I'm glad you've been giving the bamboo 2x daily watering during their first month. It will do them nothing but good to continue that pattern for the next few months while rainfall is minimal. Bamboos like water. The only time it is too much is if they sit in puddles of water for weeks at a time. Your plants will grow without regular watering but they will grow much larger and faster with a regular schedule like you are presently giving them.


How much room does clumping bamboo need?

A customer recently wrote:

We purchased some bamboo from you last year. We have a quick question about
GIANT TIMBER BAMBOO (Bambusa oldhamii). How big can we expect the diameter of the clump to get. Just want to make sure we have it in a large enough area. The Blue, Black and the Asian Lemon bamboos are all doing well! Will send pictures soon!

My response:

Like all clumping bamboos, Giant Timber will always continue to send up new shoots around the outer edges of the existing plant. That means as the years go by, the circle of bamboo will get bigger and bigger. When you think it's large enough, vigilantly chop off or knock over the new shoots when they emerge in the late spring/summer. Once a new shoot is broken like that, it will stop growing.

If you're afraid the spot where you've placed the Giant Timber will fill up too fast, moving it would be a good idea. But, if you can, wait until December or January to do transplant. By then, all of this year's new shoots have completely grown up and leafed out. Moving a bamboo when it still has young canes often prevents the canes from continuing to develop and results in a loss of potential growth for those particular canes. Also, to make it easier to dig up the bamboo, the night before you plan to move it, thoroughly soak the ground around the bamboo. Wet ground is much easier to dig through.