Bamboo - Bambusa sp.
There are a number of things called bamboo which everyone agrees are
bamboo: Arundinaria sp., Bambusa sp., Phyllostachys sp., Sasa sp, and
Sasaella sp. In addition, there are a number of things that look like
bamboo, and are called bamboo, but aren't, like Pogonatherum crinitum
("German bamboo") and Peperomia 'Bamboo Stalks.' Then there is, of course,
Nandina domestica (sacred or heavenly bamboo) which isn't a bamboo, or
even a grass, but a shrub related to barberry, and doesn't even look much
bamboos need some frost protection. According to the Samsons, Bambusa sp.
should never be exposed to temperatures under 66F.
Lighting: Full sun to
Watering: Bamboo like
lots of water, but not wet feet. They should be watered daily, but kept in
Feeding: Use a
high-nitrogen food, such as a lawn fertilizer. (It is, after all, a sort
of grass!) Feed every two weeks throughout spring and summer.
Pruning and wiring: Bamboo is generally styled as a grove, or used as an accent
plant. Cut back yellowing or ratty-looking stalks. Cutting the stalks down
in general will help to reduce the size of the plant. New stalks should
appear almost immediately, although it is wise to leave a stalk or two
uncut for good measure. The Samsons style their Bambusa as solitaires,
saying that young bamboo can even be wired. Tomlinson says that large,
interesting bamboo are occasionally grown alone, but that an individual
stalk will only live for 5-6 years. Most shaping is done by
Propagation: Divide the
rhizomes. Bamboo are invasive, and will grow like crazy if you give them
Repotting: Every one to
two years, in late spring. Use fast-draining mix, except in very shallow
pots, or on slabs, where ordinary bonsai soil is OK. Murata notes that the
rhizomes tend to push out of the soil and will need to be trimmed back
when the plant is repotted to maintain a neat appearance. The Samsons
recommend that the roots be spread evenly across the surface area of the
Pests an diseases: Red
spider mite is common. Also, bamboo easily becomes pot bound.
Some species suitable for bonsai:
- Bambusa multiplex - A fine stemmed bamboo, with
small yellow- green leaves.
- Bambusa nigra: Black bamboo - As stalks mature, the
turn black. Generally safe to freezing tempertures.
- Bambusa ventricosa: Buddha's belly bamboo - Has a
bright green trunk with ringed swellings that develop as the plant
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