Bamboo Q & A

A customer from the Orlando area who recently purchased and installed several Blue Timber (Bambusa chungii) clumping bamboos wrote with a few questions:

Hi Sherry,  How are you?  I hope this finds you doing well.  I am writing to ask some specific questions about our Bambusa chungii that arose after reading your wonderful blog. I find myself going back to your blog almost daily to look up something or read what you’ve written about a particular topic. 

OK.  First off, irrigation.  As you may recall, we purchased 5 Bambusa chungii from you. They are now integrated into our driveway landscape, placed about 10’ apart.  I have redone the irrigation system for this area, using a drip line with two dedicated lines for each plant (well, one has a line and a nearby spray head).  I have placed two of these micro-bubbler irrigation heads about an inch from the vertical culm of each bamboo: http://www.amazon.com/Orbit-Irrigation-67110-Micro-Bubbler-Stake/dp/B002R9O4OK.  This way when I turn on the sprinkler system, each plant gets a dedicated shower with a specific radius range of about a foot from the base of the vertical culm.  I have also added mulch around each plant.  We have a lot of oak trees here, so we have leaves galore.

OK, on your blog I read a comment from someone asking about newly planted bamboos and this person mentioned watering each bamboo for 2 hours.  Wow, that seems like a lot.  I turn on the bamboo zone for 10-12 minutes twice a day, then twice a week in addition that zone is part of our overall watering schedule (in Winter Park you can water two days a week) and the bamboo zone goes on for 25 minutes.  All the bambusa chungii now have leaves sprouting from the joints of each culm.  On all but one plant the leaves have no yellow; one of the tallest bamboos has some yellow leaves.  There are no curling leaves (indicating lack of water).  Yet, still I wonder … am I under-watering?  Do they need more than this?  Please advise.

Next, fertilizing.  As you may recall, we got both soil and Dynamite from you which were put into the planting as you direct in your planting instructions sheet.  Some bamboos have been in the ground for 3 weeks now, some about a week.  So soon (the one-month mark) I was going to add fertilizer.  My local hardware store has been having trouble getting Ironite http://www.ironite.com/.  They told me that Ironite has re-formulated the mix and it is now hard to get.  Not sure when they will have the Ironite.  So … I can use something like this:  http://www.seedland.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=Seedland&Product_Code=FERT-423403-15&Category_Code=FERT-453284.

Should I use both, assuming that Ironite becomes available soon?  Can I start fertilizing after the 4-week mark?

Thanks again for all your good information.  It’s fun to check in with Beautiful Bamboo by listening to other people’s questions and thoughts.  Thanks too for your excellent comments on Metalifestream

My response:
Hi Barry - I'm glad you are finding my blog helpful.  Have you used the "Search this Blog" feature yet?  If not, you might find that useful when seeking out information on specific topics.  Concerning your questions, let's start with irrigation.  From your description of the plants' new leaves, it sounds like you are giving them adequate water.  Bamboos like water and it is difficult to give them too much but the amount you are doing seems perfectly fine for plants in a shady, well-mulched location like you've given them.  Especially during this year's rather moist springtime.

Concerning the fertilizer, you already applied sufficient fertilizer to last 6 months when you planted the bamboo and used Dynamite, a 6-mo. time release fertilizer that we sell at the nursery.  The fertilizer you linked to would be a good choice for the future but not necessary for immediate use.  If you use the one you linked to in the future, you can apply it every month since it is not a time release formula but be sure to follow the application directions since regular non-time release formulas do have the potential to "burn" plants if applied incorrectly.  What you can always do however, is apply organic material around the existing bamboos.  Just like with water, bamboos thrive when given an abundance of organic material such as compost, manure, grass clippings, leaves, etc.  So right now, don't apply additional chemical fertilizers but do pile on the organic matter.

Ironite is usually available at Lowes, although I haven't checked recently.  Newly planted bamboos usually don't require Ironite applications.  Some browning of the leaves is normal, especially following transplanting, and as long as new leaves are forming, don't worry about others leaves that fall off.  Focus instead on all the new growth that's just beginning to happen now and will continue to happen through November.

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