British Columbia: Potted Black Bamboo - leaves wilting, papery & dry

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by mermaid, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

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    I have a black bamboo on my balcony in the West End. I planted it two years ago and it did very well until about three weeks ago. It does get some dry brown tips on its leaves during the winter, but otherwise, it had always looked great. I wrap the pot up in the winter to prevent frost damage. Currently, it stands about 8 feet tall.

    I have to admit, I have never fertilized this plant (my bad). Since I live in an apartment with limited storage, I simply can't be buying a huge container of lawn fertilizer. I do have a general pourpose fertilizer, but do not know whether this would be okay to use on the bamboo.

    So, back to the problem: Three weeks ago, I noticed that all of the leaves had a papery quality to them. It had been very windy the past few weeks. The whole bamboo was bent horizontally as the wind gusts blew accross my balcony. Also, the humingbird feeder spilt lots of it's sugar water on the plant during the wind storms(yes, I do get hummers all year round!). I thought that this coating of sugar may have been a problem, so I hosed the hole plant down last week until the leaves were clean. Still, no improvement of the leaves.

    What could be the reason for this? I love my plant and don't want to loose it.
    Any suggestion are appreciated!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Check soil moisture.
     
  3. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    The leaves of most bamboos are at their worst looking right now (in and around Vancouver, anyways) after a winter's beating, so aside from the already mentioned advice to keep an eye on the moisture level in the pot, expect shiny new leaves to emerge soon.
     
  4. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

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    Thanks for the tip. However, I do water that sucker every week with about a gallon of water until it runs back out if the bottom. That's not it.
    A couple of old shoots are completely dry. They would have had a lot of the beating from wind and cold though.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    I'd pull it out of the pot, if possible, or do something otherwise to be sure it had not gotten dried out. If there is a dry interior the water will still run out the bottom, in fact when a soil-less potting medium dries it shrinks, causing water to pass through faster than if the medium is moist and filling the pot all the way to the walls.

    Your plant became dehydrated, either due to cold exposure or drying out of the potting medium.
     
  6. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

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    Hi Ron,
    I can't lift the plant out and the container is too heavy for me to angle, but that is an interesting (and plausible) perspective. I planted in in a "home made" potting medium with lots of rich compost soil and conventional potting mix, plus perlite etc.

    But for the sake of arguement, le'ts assume it did dry out, do you think this means the plant is toast?

    If I can be saved, I am thinking, I should get someone to help me lift it into a large saucer and then let it sit in water for the day to promote absorption. That's a whole lot easier to do for my 5 inch house plants though!

    Thoughts?
     
  7. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Even if it is dried out, the fact that you are looking into it now combined with the time of year should result in new shoots emerging this season, and (unless the culm has completely died), new leaves as mentioned. I've had pieces of rhizome left behind after propagating dry in the sun for weeks, and still push out meagre new growth during shooting time: there's a fair amount of stored energy in the rhizome. Make sure its' getting the water you're providing, don't panic and overwater (just as deadly as underwatering), and see what May/June brings...Given it was fine until recently, I've little doubt it will send up new shoots. Remember: if it is/was drought stressed and thirsty, its first response would be to longitudinally curl its' leaves (like they've been rolled up). If you didn't see this happening prior to the wind storm, it wasn't drought stressed up to that point.
     
  8. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

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    Hi there,
    I am hopeful new shoots will come, but here's a question: What do I do with the existing shoots that have the ugly leaves? I don't think they will perk up. A few are just a little papery, but others have a good amount of brown leaves on them. Do the existing shoots get new leaves too? Do they add growth at the top or does the spring growth spurt only produce new shoots from the ground up?

    Sorry, if these questions are very basic. I am just learning.
     
  9. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Bamboo constantly sheds leaves (over time), with new ones emerging on the same branch. If you have a close look at yours, see if there are tightly curled new leaves emerging (look like narrow, pointed green spears near the base of the old leaves). If so, these will emerge soon and replace the existing dead/damaged ones. Regarding the ugly damaged leaves, I usually just pick them off, and leave the nicest ones behind. You won't do any harm regardless.

    Shoots reach their full height in the first season of growth, so aside from the above-mentioned new leaves which emerge on existing culms, all growth is done annually by that season's shoots, until (after a few years) it is sufficiently established to reach the maximum height for the species, at which point new shoots will only attain that height.
     
  10. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Has your Bamboo survived? I have loads could give you some in spring time or even now as I just rooted out heaps of black bamboo that tried to escape my planters in the garden. I am in North Burnaby but come down to west end quite often near Denman and Comox
     
  11. mermaid

    mermaid New Member

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    Hi there,
    Yes, my Bamboo survived but I do have another planter I would like to put some bamboo in. I would love some for that. Do you think it would be better for the plants if I planted them now or in the spring?
     
  12. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    I definitely would say SPRING when things start growing
    we can stay in touch here. Regards
    Vic
     
  13. mike y

    mike y New Member

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    Hi Vic,

    i am interested in growing some outdoor bamboo for the same reason you are - privacy. however, i already have a row of tall evergreens which can no longer provide privacy at the lower level so i thought bamboo would be a fast grower with good density for privacy. However, i am wondering how well they would grow adjacent to a concrete wall with towering evergreens over them. There is enough room to grow 15-20 feet high before they infringe on evergreen the tree branches; and the privacy needed is 4-15 feet above ground level. Do you think the bamboo you have would thrive in those surroundings? If so, do you have any to spare?
     
  14. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    To my knowledge in Vancouver Bamboo Green or black thrives anywhere and well. They don't mind concrete etc. Just be aware they will start shooting in all sort of directions unless, for some control, you plant them in large planters. Mine are made of recycled wood and it took them eight years to start trying to brake out. If you want total control you need to make a concrete box for them to grow in or some really strong restraining material (maybe some sunken steel oil drum) or if you want it pretty or decorative some solid container above ground or build it out of pointy poles and or 4x4 x8 or 12 and if you want it more tight you line the inside with cedar or metal sheets. Otherwise when they brake out you can just snip off (with a strong cutter these babies can be tough) the rhizomes that want to make a run for it :-) The one I have I started out from my neighbor and they were growing on the side of his home between a 2m tall concrete wall and a concrete path. I think its a bit early to unroot some at this time. I have just given away a bunch in late summer. And thrown out a lot of roots/rhizomes but I still have some to dig out but in the moment my back is not well at all I can't dig at this time and I would say it's a bit early and at this time bamboo is sort of sleep and stagnant. I am NO horticulture specialist but I design and landscape. Just telling you from my experience here in North Burnaby. They will grow ALONG any concrete wall as they they rhizomes tent to run in line along the softest part. So the wall will hold them off and they will run along in the soft soil. What you need is to create the 2nd wall to keep them growing in your desired direction. If you want text me seven (2x) eight three one eight (2x) zero two zero and we can take if from there. We are near Brentwood Mall
     
  15. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    I'd plant a row of clumping bamboo, in particular Fargesia robusta, in light of your site and needs--it will tolerate the shade from the evergreens, won't create issues in terms of containment, and will be densest/bushiest at the required height (this one maxes out around 12-15') As it grows in a very upright fashion (a google image search of the name will give you an idea), it won't flop over--which can be an issue with some of the running types. Fast to establish as well--it will soon form the screen you're aiming for.
     
  16. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Most certainly right. Just went to our big local nursery yesterday for other reasons.
    Saw the clumping one, (although the stem look more that my bright green bamboo)
    The sad thing about it Vancouver Canada, two single stems in a pot +- 10 feet tall cost 129$.
    I have been looking for rhizomes of clumping bamboo on Freecyle.org for eight years, no one ever offered
    I guess for NOT having the potential "running trouble" etc it may be worth the expense.
    I have the black bamboo and the green type that loves running (don't really know the name of it)
    but the black one turned out to be quite manageable it took eight years for them to try to brake out
    a wooden 80x80cm
     

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