How to Grow Bamboo Plants
For a bamboo screen, in most cases Slender Weavers is the best option.
Slender Weavers, also called Gracilis quickly forms a privacy screen of bamboo and is not too big for most people’s needs. Here are some tips for getting a beautiful bamboo privacy screen as soon as possible.
Time needed: 2 hours to plant a 10m length
How to Grow Clumping Bamboo Plants like Slender Weavers
- Choose the right bamboo for your needs
Choose the right bamboo for a screen, privacy or any reason
Slender Weavers is usually the best choice in most cases.
It will grow in all areas of Sydney from the Coast, all the way up into the Blue Mountains.
It’s a perfect bamboo plant for Sydney’s climate especially if you need privacy screening.
You may want a smaller or bigger bamboo screen for privacy or noise reduction. Shop here
Growing a bamboo hedge serves many purposes. They can be used to add appeal to your landscape.
Privacy is usually the number one reason for growing a bamboo screen but there are other benefits which are often overlooked.
Materials for making crafts and wooden products.
Some shoots are edible
Some of the timber is strong enough to be useful to the avid gardener or for experimental construction by experts in building with bamboo
* – we do not provide advice or suggest you try building with bamboo without the services of a qualified professional
- Water the young plants, little and often
Once bamboo plants are established they are more hardy and tolerant of cool temperatures, drought, winds and other environmental factors.
Ensuring that you can meet their water requirements is important in getting them to this stage but no more so than any other plant.
- How to grow the bamboo screen
Sydney is increasing in population density and many customers buy bamboo plants to grow into a privacy screen to block out the new build next door.
Generally, the new build and bamboo tend to mature about the same time so if the bamboo plants are planted early enough, then you will have a bamboo privacy screen right in time,
Allow the bamboo to grow to the height you want. Then let the new shoots grow up and form culms (canes)
Just before they start to put out leaves, bend them down (easier and safer than a ladder) and cut them a bit below the height you want.
That culm, once cut, will never grow any taller. It will put out more leaves at the lover sections than if it were uncut.
If you want a ground to top screen with foliage all the way up the best thing to do is to cut 1/3rd of the culms to about 1/3rd of the height of the screen.
This forces them to put out more leaves lower down.
This way you get foliage for the top 2/3rd from the taller culms and foliage for the bottom 1/3rd from the cut culms.
- How to plant Slender Weavers bamboo, or any other clumping bamboo plants for screening
Firstly, if other plants are growing where you want to plant the bamboo, you can just plant the bamboo water it until it’s established.
It will grow very quickly and look great.
Bamboo is NOT some plant that needs specialist care like an orchid.
You do NOT need expert knowledge to grow it.
However, many of our customers want a screen quickly and want it to look amazing.
This is easy to encourage by following the guidelines below (these are guidelines.. NOT rules)
They can make a significant difference, depending on the current state of your soil.
If your soil is already in excellent then the guidelines will have less affect that if the soil is in very poor condition.
- How to plant bamboo plants
It’s very important to understand that plants have adapted to grow in soil. That means soil in it’s natural condition, fee from human influence.
So, you want to aim to recreate the natural conditions and modify some of the factors that promote fast growth.
Nature will take care of the rest of it for you.
If you want a privacy screen of bamboo then you want to keep it as natural as possible. It will look beautiful as a result.
Free-draining soils is important but if you have other plants growing nearby then the soil is likely fine.
If in doubt dig the planting holes then fill them with water. If the water is still in the hole after 6-12 hours (very rare) then you need to improve the drainage. Contact us if you need advice
- How to change the soil to make the bamboo screen grow faster.
Generally do NOT add anything INTO the soil.
In the natural environment, things rot on the ground, are broken down and become part of the soil.
You will never find manure, compost or blood and bone mixed in with the soil in nature but you will you will find organic materials like this ON the soil.
So recreate the natural environment for out bamboo plants
Manure, Compost (both must be well rotted) and Blood and Bone,
work really well if you put them ON TOP of the soil.
Put mulch on top of that and water it to help it break down.
Hardwood chip mulch lasts the longest
Microbial and invertebrate action will enrich your soil from the top ground (which is how it happens naturally)
This will happen gradually over time and you can’t really force it, let nature take its course. The bamboo will grow well and will thank you for it in a year or two by growing faster and faster.
* Blood and Bone seems to attract some dogs so if you have dogs and don’t want your newly planted bamboo to be dug up then AVOID blood and bone.
** Do NOT dig in potting mix with the soil
Potting mix works well in pots, where as soil is a very poor medium for growing in pots. It sounds counter-intuitive but try growing (very cheap) plants in soil in pots.
Then compere them to the same plants growing in potting mix in pots and you will see the difference.
For the same reason, digging potting mix in the soil generally is not a good idea.
- How to mulch bamboo plants
Bamboo plants love mulch so regardless of adding anything else, always aim to use some mulch.
It modulates the soil temperature, and moisture which is really beneficial for microbial activity..
We would recommend putting a thin layer now (1-2cm) while they are young and then when they are bigger you can increase the depth if you wish.
Keep the mulch topped up all around the plant.
This keeps the bamboo happy and it will put out more leaves, more quickly to form a screen.
- How to water bamboo plants
As with all plants that grow in normal soil conditions, do not over water bamboo plants when young for extended periods.
If you soil drains well then this isn’t likely to be a problem.
The key is to understand that roots actually need oxygen from the air so waterlogged soil prevents the air from reaching the roots through the soil.
Soggy soil also promotes anaerobic microbes, which are not healthy and young plants (of all types) do not seem to enjoy growing in a swamp for very long.
The rule of thumb is little and often with water to start with.
Aim to keep the roots and the surrounding soil moist but NOT soggy
Once a week give them a deep water to encourage deeper root growth.
If you have days of torrential rain then you might want to check the drainage but we’ve never had any customers contact us about this.
1) If the bamboo leaves are curling up and they are NOT in the sun, then the plant needs water. Slowly try to re wet the soil.
Soil can be quite difficult to wet when it’s dry so a wetting agent (or an organic dish wash) added to a watering can first is a good idea if your soil is completely dry.
If the leaves are curled and they are in the sun then it could be that the plant needs water.
It also could just be that it’s not long been planted and the roots haven’t begun the process of establishment. (This is fairly normal in hot windy weather with newly planted bamboo)
If the leaves are curled and in the sun then dig down a bit into the soil and have a feel before adding water.
2) If you see anything change with the bamboo: colour change, no new growth appearing in the growing season, shoots going rotten then take photos asap, as many was you can, in detail.
Describe everything relevant, the smallest details can be important and Contact us and we will help you .
Almost without exception when customers do this it turns out that they have been over watering the plants. As soon as they stop then the problems go away.
- How to fertilise bamboo
1) Avoid Artificial fertiliser – Use Organic Fertiliser
Firstly, NEVER use soluble fertiliser. This is the powdered fertiliser that you dissolve it into a watering can and pour it on. Do NOT use this.
There are two reasons for this
1) it causes more harm than good if you don’t know EXACTLY what you’re doing.
The rapid change in concentration of nutrients can induce osmotic shock in the roots.
The high concentration of nutrients can (actually does) harm and/ or kill colonies of beneficial microbes in the soil
The nutrients at such high levels induce a sudden flush of new growth.
Once the nutrients have been used up, unless you pour on more the plant can find it hard to maintain the new growth
For more information about the importance of bacteria and fungi in the soil check out the science.
The bacteria and fungi feel the plants roots with nutrients. They channel water into the roots and they connect the roots of all plants together which allows chemical communication (yes really.. plants “talk to each other”)
We love Science at Sydney Bamboo and keep up to date with the latest findings in botany and soil health to inform our practices.
Artificial fertilisers have been repeatedly shown to more or less destroy this beneficial and complex system.
400-500 million years of terrestrial plant evolution have lead to an intricate balance of microbes and nutrients in the soil, all of which are taking care of your plant for you.
Soluble fertiliser is going to cause problems and is definitely not going to do a better job of looking after your plants compared to 100s of millions of years of evolution by natural selection.
HOWEVER there is ONE time where you might want to slightly depart from nature for a brief period..
For the FIRST season, you want to do everything possible to maximise the establishment of your bamboo, especially if you need the bamboo screen for privacy.
In order for it to do this is must have access to all the micronutrients necessary for optimal growth.
Did you know that plants need iron?
Maybe not but you know that a a steak is high in iron and steak comes from cows, and cows can just eat grass.
The iron comes from the grass
Have you heard of molybdenum and that it’s needed by plants?
It’s one of the 92 elements found in nature and is essential for several enzymes which keep the plant growing.
So, whilst clearly these nutrients must be in your soil if you have other plants growing in it, the roots of young plants may not be able to extract it as easily as you would like,
This is the ONLY time we recommend the use of artificial fertilisers and ONLY controlled release fertilisers.
The best fertiliser which is readily available that we have found is
Osmocote Controlled Release Plant Starter which contains all the trace elements needed and also increases microbial activity
Whatever you use it MUST be controlled release. This means the nutrients slowly leach out when the plant needs them.
This means it doesn’t harm the microbes in the soil to any significant degree.
When planting, dig a hole deep enough. Then dig down another 10cm.
Add a couple of handfuls of controlled release fetiliser (containing
trace elements), mix in with the soil, back fill 10cm and then plant.
This means the roots will grow down and will have access to all the micro nutrients in the correct proportions for the first season’s growth.
This means it establishes very well and puts down a strong and healthy root system.
Once established they work together with the microbes in the soil and it’s set up to maximise next season’s growth.
From that point on it will be able to access any micronutrients in needs, unless you have severe problems with your soil (which if you have other plants growing happily, you won’t have)
Your bamboo will grow quickly to form a privacy screen with lots of foliage.
- How do I buy Slender Weavers for a bamboo screen
Firstly, Slender Weavers is, in most cases, by far the best choice for a bamboo screen for most people’s needs.
So if you need Slender Weavers you need to make sure that’s what you are buying. We propagate all our own stock and are 100% certain of the species / variety / cultivar.
Many bamboos look remarkably similar when young and there are only two methods to determine for sure which species / variety / cultivar they are.
The methods are genetic testing or to wait 2-3 years for it to grow in the ground and have it identified.
So we can’t prove to you that our Slender Weavers are definitely what we say they are but I think if you’ve read this page it’s clear we know what we’re talking about.
We started out buying a lot of bamboo from whole sale nurseries to plant and use as mother stock to propagate from.
One nursery sold us severy $1000s of plants as Slender Weavers (Bambusa textilis var. Gracilis)
We bought them to grow up and use as mother plants to propagate from.
They turned out not to be Slender Weavers at all.
When buying you should ask the seller a few questions
Q1 -Did they propagated them themselves, do they have photos of their mother plants.
If the answer is No then they are trusting someone else’s word
Q2 – How do they know they are Slender Weavers.?
If the answer is “that’s what we bought” then again, they are trusting someone else’s word
Q3) – How can they tell the difference between Slender Weavers (Gracilis) and Dark Weavers Fusca)
If this question rattles them then our advice is to assess carefully.
If they cannot give you an immediate and well articulated answer which defines the distinguishing features of
i) Slender Weavers (Gracilis)
– lack of hair on the culm sheaths,
– tightly clumping,
– more white/blue powder on new culms
– will grow to provide a good size bamboo privacy screen
ii) Dark Weavers (Fusca)
– hairs on the culm sheaths from season 2 onward.
– more loosely clumping
– less white/blue powder on new culms
— distinctive pattern in the drying out of the culm sheaths where the top part usually dries out quickly and the rest takes longer as opposed to Slender Weavers where they seem to dry out fairly evenly and more quickly
– often a slight bend in the culm at the base, which is only noticeable if you gig down into the soil
– Rapidly accelerated growth in season 3 compared to Slender Weavers when Dark Weavers starts putting up 12+m culms and take up more 3 times the space compared to Slender Weavers
– Will grow to provide a huge and difficult to manage bamboo privacy screen, far too big for what you need if you really want Slender Weavers due to space restrictions.
Then you at least know they don’t know the difference and / or aren’t aware that there is another variety of the same species which is identical in appearance when young,
If they can give you some indication that they understand the difference and also show signs that the difference is significant (one will grow to 6-8m and stay nice and tight, the other will grow to 12m and take up a lot of space) then again, assess carefully
Q4) Can they point to anything on the Slender Weavers they have in 200mm pots which shows they are Slender Weavers and not Dark Weavers?
If the answer is yes and they highlight some characteristic of the plant they’re showing you then they have have noticed something that we, nor anyone else established in this industry have ever been able to see.
When we do produce Dark Weavers, we double tag them. Then grow them in a completely separate part of the nursery to eliminate the chance of any mix ups.
That’s how well we can tell the difference: we can’t. We propagate from established mother plants and from that point on they are separated.
Make sure you are confident in what you are buying.
The market has increased in recent years and with that has come a few questions about legitimate and ethical business conduct.
Again, feel free to contact us for advice, even if you do not intent to purchase from us.
Our aim is to preserve the reputation of the many honest nurseries and sellers out there
We want to keep this market healthy.
- How fast will my bamboo grow
For the first year they will grow much faster than any other plant.
Shoots may not appear for a few months after they first go into the ground but the plants will be putting down roots and building up stores of energy before putting up their first shoots.
This growth will surprise you
In year 2 they will grow much faster. Normally they only put up shoots in summer from this point. This is when you really see the bamboo screen taking shape.
From year 3 on they begin to show the kind of growth rates that bamboo is famous for and it will amaze you. You will have a thick screen of bamboo providing a privacy screen
This is just over one season’s growth (the main growing season being February-April.
Thank you for the customer who sent these in.
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