Watering bamboo?

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

  1. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Location:
    Ruxton Island, B.C., Canada
    I have located some information on watering bamboo with a drip system, but we do not have a municipal water supply here to provide adequate pressure for one of these systems.
    We have a gravity fed good old fashioned garden hose taking rainwater from a 3,000 gallon tank.
    Thus far, I have only put 4 bamboo plants in the ground, the rest are still in pots. They were all 1 gallon pot size, so quite small. I have been watering them every morning, and so far so good. They have been in the ground for maybe 3 weeks.
    Are there any good guidelines for watering bamboos generally?
     
  2. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    They are generally native to the summer monsoon regions of Asia. Even the temperate bamboos enjoy copious summer rainfall. As long as the soil is well drained, they'll take as much water as you can provide. When established though, I would think watering once each week would be more than sufficient.
     
  3. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thank you very much for that. The soil here is EXTREMELY well drained. Much of it is decomposed sandstone. Our problem is getting it to hold moisture.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Mulch well and water copiously. If existing spots appear problematic, look around for lower, damper locations and try those. Won't develop well if subject to drying, but cannot sit in standing water either. Margins of ponds and damp slopes characteristic locations for successful plantings. If site has right combination actually possible to achieve full development without irrigation - although shoots after spring-early summer may abort.
     
  5. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Thanks Ron:
    I have put some fine bark mulch around all the plants, not just the bamboo. The soil dries out too quickly if it doesn't have some protection. However, because we have a limited water supply, there is a limit as to how much I can give them.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you have slopes but no natural seepage you may be able to impede vertical drainage of water near the surface with buried pond liner or other durable impervious material. Installed with an angle and layed evenly it could duplicate a natural clay layer, causing the soil above to be damp but not flooded and stagnant, the water moving sideways across the barrier and down the slope.
     
  7. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Ron: That sounds like a pretty good idea. There is a huge section of bedrock, which is quite steeply sloped - I would say at least 20 degrees. It runs for hundreds of feet from the end of the island, and almost all the way through our lot before it comes to a fairly abrupt stop. This bedrock more or less forms the high side of the entire Japanese Garden, which is where the bamboo is being planted. Using your very cunning method may actually make quite a long section of that bedrock quite usable.
    Thank you. I will definitely let you know how I make out with that.
     
  8. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    Comox, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
    Just to add, we have a wide variety of soil types on our property and some of it is extremely sandy to the point you could stand all day with a garden hose and the soil would just soak it up and none would pool on top of the ground at all.

    For those areas (and really all areas) we have a special soil mixture we've made up that provides good drainange but simultaneously holds a lot of moisture meaning we don't have to water as much in summer because we're on a well and there is only so much we can do.

    We take a bale of ProMix HP which is basically fast draining nursery mix with a lot of perlite in it and to that we mix in 5 bags of composted manure and 5 bags of "Sea soil original" which is fish compost and bark mulch. I mix that up with the small rototiller and we use it everywhere mixed in about half and half with whatever soil is in the planting hole. We also mulch on top with wood mulch. This allows us to go quite a while between waterings and give a good soak when we do water. It also means the plants don't drown in the winter when all the rains come.

    If you have voles, unless you have several hunting type cats don't make your mulch too deep around the bamboo or you will attract rodents who will live in the mulch and *feast* on the rhizomes. Just mulch enough for moisture retention and no more. We have 3 cats, all good hunters so I mulch heavily but I've heard horror stories...

    For your sandy areas I would not plant a bamboo directly without some kind of soil amendment, they will like some organic material at the very least.

    You don't want to have to be constantly watering them all summer long and draining your water tank.

    The key thing is to prepare in advance and try to set it up so you only need to water once a week deeply or even less if possible.

    Bamboo in general like a *lot* of water but they can get by on some pretty dry spells if they have to, the leaves will tell you all you need to know about their hydration situation.
     
  9. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Well, that is a great reply. What little soil we do have is sandy, and like yours, it just drains away instantly.
    Regardless of what plants we put in here, we do our best to amend the soil. I have been giving the bamboos a small amount of water each morning. They like this treatment so far. The plants are looking better every day.
     
  10. cocobolo

    cocobolo Active Member

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    Now that we are back in to our rainy season again, the need for suplemental watering has been greatly reduced. All our bamboos except for 2 are doing well. Actually, just one is looking quite ill. I think I will move it as I suspect it is not getting enough light. The other one does not have very good soil, so that is easily fixable. It didn't take too long to find out how much water they liked.
     

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