22 September, 2017

Planting Bamboo

I'm working on constructing a privacy screen using fast-growing bamboo. Out of the various species rated for growing in pots (which provides relative mobility - since we don't own the property - and avoids the potential for out-of-control growth), we chose Phyllostachys Bissetii, for its cold hardiness (so it will survive and stay green through the winter), high tolerance (so there's less chance of us accidentally killing it), height (for quicker vertical growth), and, of course, price ($44-$64 per plant, depending on the size you order). I ordered the 3 gallon size plants, to save a year of waiting for them to grow up, and their tallest canes are already a good 10 feet tall (being as flexible as they are, they were doubled over in their shipping packages) - although they still need to fill out quite a bit.

For planting, we chose 26" round wooden barrels ($35 ea @ Home Depot) to give the plants plenty of room to grow into. Following Lewis Bamboo's instructions (when it comes to bamboo, they really know their shit), and assuming an approximately 20 gallon container (leaving some space at the top), for each plant we mixed 75% top soil (15 gallons or 2 cubic feet of Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix), 20% organic (4 gallons Black Kow Composted Manure, measured out in one of Homer's 5 gallon All-Purpose Buckets), and 5% Bio Char (about half of a 32 oz package of 18-5-12 Time Release bamboo fertilizer, sold by Lewis Bamboo).

I hope they like their new home, and survive their first winter. It will be exciting to see the new canes shoot up in the spring! Some species have been documented to grow nearly four feet in twenty four hours (but only during their spring growth phase). Although we're planning to cap the new growths at not much more than ten feet, in the hope that the plant will redistribute its energy to filling out instead of shooting up. I was concerned about covering that 6-10 foot gap above the fence in our yard sooner rather than later, but in hindsight, I might have chosen a shorter yet bushier species instead. Still, we'll see what happens as it grows.

Visit lewisbamboo.com to learn all sorts of fun facts about bamboo, or even get your own!