How To Fertilize And Water Bamboo Plants

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This article provides helpful tips and instructions for fertilizing and waterong bamboo plants
by Brett · All Zones · Fertilizing · 0 Comments · January 18, 2014 · 4,494 views

Growing bamboo successfully is a simple and rewarding task and can be accomplished in most situations provided they are proper planted, fertilized and watered.

Before planting bamboo outdoors in your landscape, first make sure you select a variety that will survive the cold temperatures experienced during winter in your area. The location you select is important as well.

Best Growing Conditions

Sun - Bamboo appreciates sun to part shade and does well in sunny to partially shaded woodland borders.

Soil Type Preferred - In general, most bamboo species prefer a moist but well-draining, loamy, moderately acidic soil, but aren't too pick about soil type. Constantly wet or soggy soils can cause problems with the roots. They are tolerant of heavy clay soils if drainage is good. In soil with low fertility or compact clay it'll be worth your time to mix in some organic compost to the native soil. They like the soil to hold a good supply of water, but not so much water that the soil stays constantly soggy or wet.

Soil pH Preferred - Bamboo prefers a moderately acid soil between 5.5 to 6.5 on the pH scale. It's a good idea, especially if your bamboo aren't growing or looking well, to test the soil for pH. Most nursery and garden centers sell testing kits or you can buy a soil test kit online here. Your local Extension service might also provide soil testing services.

Planting Tips - With bamboo, dig the hole at least three times the size of the root ball. The larger the area of soil you loosen up, the faster the bamboo will spread. Back fill the planting hole with a 50/50 mixture of the native soil and a good topsoil mixed with some organic matter such as composted cow manure. Plant with the top of the rootball at ground level and apply a couple inches of mulch to help retain moisture.

Fertilizing Bamboo

When - Fertilize bamboo in early spring to encourage new growth and then again during the middle of the growing season to replace any nutrients that may be getting depleted.

Using Synthetic Fertilizers - Many different types of fertilizer work well for bamboo. You can choose between organic and synthetic. The three numbers in fertilizers (N-P-K) are important factors to growing healthy bamboo. The first number represents nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is the element for growth. The second number is phosphorus (P) and it has to do with the transfer of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are essential for the bamboo to store nourishment in the rhizomes. The last number represents potassium (K) and is necessary for photosynthesis. This is very important for the plant's metabolism. Extra amounts of this element helps the bamboo to withstand drought, heat and cold. In general, bamboo appreciate lots of nitrogen, so many grass or lawn fertilizers will work well. A 20-5-5 fertilizer, or something near that, usually works well. Feed bamboo once in early spring and again in the summer, to match the two main growth seasons of bamboo. You can also use time- or slow-release fertilizers such as Osmocote. Just follow application directions on the fertilizer and water well for a couple of weeks.

Using Organic Plant Food - If you choose to use a more mild, organic plant food you'll need to apply at a heavier rate. For example, 1 pound of 20-5-5 synthetic fertilizer is equal to about 5 pounds of 6-3-2 organic plant food. It's best to follow apllication rates and instructions on the product label.

Watering Bamboo

Once established, bamboo needs little care and normal rainfall is generally all that is needed. That being said, during prolonged periods of dry weather even established bamboo will appreciate supplemental irrigation.

Newly Planted Bamboo - Newly planted bamboos will need frequent and liberal watering in order to establish themselves. During the planting process, it's a good idea to build a water retaining ring (doughnut) around the perimeter of the planting hole to help retain moisture from rain or irrigation. After planting, water enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet. In the absence of rainfall, newly planted bamboo plants may need some supplemental water: twice a week during mild weather, and three to four times per week during hot or windy weather. Lack of sufficient water, especially during hot or windy weather, is the leading cause of failure or poor growth of new bamboo plants. Watering newly planted bamboos every day, or for longer than a few minutes can cause excess leaf drop. Well-established bamboos are rather tolerant of flooding, but newly planted bamboos can suffer from too much as well as too little water. It's always use the finger test to check soil moisture before watering.

If your newly planted bamboo begins to loose leaves, it may be just adjusting to its new home and sunlight conditions. Even under most all conditions, the bamboo will retain 70% of its leaves. After a period of time, it should put on new leaves to replace the ones it dropped during the transition. During the hot summer even established bamboo will roll their leaves to prevent transpiration. This is a neat characteristic of bamboo so do not be alarmed to see your bamboo roll up its leaves. Watering during very hot times is great and will assist the bamboo during its growth.

Established Bamboo - Once a bamboo has established itself, it can survive with much less irrigation. When growing a long hedge or screen of bamboo, installing a simple drip system with a timing unit is a cost effective and efficient way to assure the watering needs are met, while minimizing the chance of overwatering. Where possible use overhead or sprinkler systems to irrigate larger areas or groves of bamboo.




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