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Poaceae Grasses, including bamboos.

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Old March 24th, 2004, 10:29 PM
sluggo sluggo is offline
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Phyllostachys nigra and containment

Hello,

I'm considering growing some black bamboo behind an allen brick retaining wall (separating the garden bed from a paver brick patio). The other side of the bed is the concrete pad of my neighbour's house. I keep reading about people's problems with bamboo and its invasiveness. Of course there are many different types of bamboo, but even still I have come across tales of phyllostachys nigra being exceedingly invasive. Contrary to this, a friend of mine has phyllostachys nigra in her yard and they find it easy to contain; they have to remove new shoots coming up through their lawn every now and then. I'm wondering who else in the Vancouver region has direct experience with phyllostachys nigra and what they think of it in terms of invasiveness.

thanks
Doug
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Old March 27th, 2004, 08:51 PM
James Arthurs James Arthurs is offline
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Containing p. nigra

I'm not an authority, but I have a medium-smallish grove of p. nigra which is approaching 17 years in age. It had begun to run (and it will ramble !). There is a product called "Bamboo Barrier" on the market which I recommend; it works. It's a heavy black polyethelene membrane you bury around your patch's periphery. I recommend the 2 foot wide (thus 2 foot deep) barrier. Once installed, you watch for roots trying to climb over and amputate them.I can't remember where I got mine-it was a few years ago-but try nurseries and the web for starters. I got mine thru a Vancouver company.
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Old March 28th, 2004, 05:39 PM
sluggo sluggo is offline
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Thanks for the info. I'll look into this bamboo barrier, although digging along two of the sides of my proposed area will be tough. One of the sides is bordered by allen blocks, I'm not sure I'll be able to dig down the wall two feet. I suppose I could, but I'd probably have to shovel a couple of yards of soil! Maybe I'll hire someone to do this.

cheers
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Old March 30th, 2004, 10:27 AM
James Arthurs James Arthurs is offline
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Bamboo barrier

Me again- I wouldn't try to do the allen block wall completely; maybe six inches in from the edge will be sufficient. The bamboo is more likely to try going over than thru the wall.
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Old March 30th, 2004, 01:23 PM
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Douglas Justice Douglas Justice is offline
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Phyllostachys species (groove-stem bamboos) are relatively aggressive wanderers. Black-stem bamboo (P. nigra) is perhaps less so (at least locally), but any Phyllostachys species has the capacity to wriggle under a barrier if is not set deeply enough, or through one that is cracked or which has an imperfect seam. An Allenblock wall itself may not be a good barrier, particularly if both there is soil on both sides of the wall (so that moisture is conducted). I have seen Phyllostachys species lift and crack concrete, and grow unperturbed through asphalt (a material less solid than most people imagine).

From an ecological perspective, these plants wander because they require good aeration and soil moisture and a high level of fertility to grow optimally, and if the ground they inhabit is compacted, exhausted of nutrients or overly droughty, they will seek out better conditions. If the soil is deep and reasonably well aerated, bamboo rhizomes will probably grow more deeply than in thin, compacted soil.

Culturally, there are a few practices that seem to help keep black stem bamboo from wandering. These include,
- provide dependable soil moisture (irrigation may be helpful) exactly where you want the bamboo, and not outside of that area

- add manure directly over the area you want the bamboo to grow (organic matter is constantly being oxidized and should be replaced on a regular basis; manure also provides a good source of nitrogen, which is used by growing plants)

- regular mowing at ground level in areas outside of the desired location (repeated mowing will stop growth)

- culm thinning (removal of older culms will keep the grove better aerated, and if seriously thinned, will actually supress vigour). This technique is seldom employed, but contributes significantly to a healthier, better looking stand.

- spading (annual spading or trenching prior to culm emergence in spring to a depth below the level of the rhizomes will cut off stem tips, thereby redirecting energies elsewhere)

Good luck!
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