Removing dead culms?

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by cocobolo, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    One of my sasa pygmae plants appeared to be dead in the pot. I put it in the ground with some decent potting soil and have been watering it every morning. It has responded quite well, and several places on the plant are showing signs of life. It is quite obvious that many of the culms (tiny) are dead.
    Should these be removed now? Would there be any reason to leave them on the plant until the fall or winter?
     
  2. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    I usually remove the dead culms from my bamboo clumps. Makes them look tidier. In anycase, I am constantly short of garden stakes.
     
  3. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thanks:
    The culms are rather too small for garden stakes. More like toothpicks. But here's something interesting, at least to me. On many of the culms, all of which looked dead as a dodo, the bottom of the culms have miraculously sprung to life, and in fact have sent out nice green leaves. The tops are still decidedly deceased. I think I will cut those off. It does look pretty messy.
     
  4. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    In a small bamboo that has recently been planted I would always leave it alone because I've seen over and over again that a bamboo can look horribly bad when first planted then miraculously spring back to life. I've had a few poorly taken divisions that lost all their leaves and looked completely dead only to start putting out leaves all over the previously dead looking culms and new shoots after a month or two.

    I consider nothing dead until the next season. Different of course for mature culms in a grove that have simply grown to the end of their cycle.
     
  5. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    That's not unusual. Those green leaves should be the start of a new lease of life as the plant gathers and stores more nutrients. Do not remove anything that is green or has new leaves emerging from them. Keep it well watered, give it plenty of sun and feed it regularly. For this situation, I prefer to apply a dilute liquid fertiliser frequently rather than to use granular fertiliser, to reduce the risk of root burns. An alternative is a control or slow release fertiliser.

    Sasa pygmaea has now been reclassified to Pleioblastus pygmaeus. It grows to a height of 2 feet, and is hardy down to USDA Zone 7 (may be even colder). It is a "fast runner" and it usually used as a ground cover. My suggestion is to keep it well contained - with a root barrier. And don't let it get anywhere near your flower beds.
     
  6. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Let's hope my impatience doesn't bite me. This morning I trimmed off the dead parts of the plant. Actually, what has happened is that where the culms are showing signs of life, new leaves and a decent looking culm, the dead parts above have just fallen over and nearly come off by themselves. So that is what I took off, plus a few dead leaves. The plant actually is looking remarkably good today. I am both somewhat surprised and very pleased about that.
    Thanks for the info on the name change.
    Any particular liquid fertilizer that you use?
     
  7. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    The availability of liquid fertilizers seems to vary a lot from one locale to another, especially along the coasts. Around here we have a couple of commonly available brands of fertilizer produced in New England that consist of seaweed extract (very low in nitrogen but rich in a broad range of micronutrients), or seaweed combined with fish emulsion (which makes for a more balanced formula, typically something like 2-2-3). I like the latter for bamboo.

    Once established, low-growing types like Pleioblastus or Sasaella are remarkably durable. You can cut them back radically or not, as you choose, for aesthetic effect.
     
  8. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thanks kaspian:
    I may try to make some seaweed fertilizer myself. Maybe put a bunch in a bucket of fresh water and leave it in the sun for awhile to see what happens. Who knows?
     
  9. kaspian

    kaspian Active Member 10 Years

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    Or if you can find something like an old-fashioned apple press, maybe you can squeeze an extract out of it. Which might be kind of fun. I have no idea how it's done commercially.
     
  10. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    The little bamboo which looked nearly dead is now a gorgeous vibrant plant. All the other bamboos we have, now numbering more than 30, are still small, young plants.
    Nothing seems to need cutting off just yet.
    I did make a seaweed tea in a 20 litre pail. Haven't used any yet, but may do so in the next few days. There's a good supply of seaweed up on the beach right now, so I will have to get it while the getting is good.
    Our local garden guru, Brian Minter, put out a suggestion for suitable fertilizer for locally growing bamboo, so we got some of that to try. I guess next spring will tell all.
     
  11. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    We had a near miraculous recovery on a tiny little bamboo we planted in spring that went as dead looking as any plant I've ever seen. It lost all it's leaves, the culms turned dead looking and remained nothing but dead culms and dead branches over the course of the spring and well into July. We let the grass grow up around it over the rest of summer since it's in a wildish area which we decided not to mow. Two weeks ago my wife took the strimmer to the grass for fall and we were walking by the spot a couple of days ago and I noticed what looked like a half a bamboo leaf in the cut grass, took a closer look at this dead bamboo and it had one tiny culm alive with half a bamboo leaf still attached to it. Don't know if this was the fatal blow or not but I'm guessing it wasn't.

    This confirms ever more my feeling that a bamboo should *never* be given up for dead. This thing sat, to all appearances, dead to the world for 5 months over the course of the entire normal growing season and suddenly sprang to life when fall finally hit. Any bamboo that appears dead should be planted somewhere out of the way and left to it's own devices for at least a year before giving up on it entirely.
     

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