Cultivation of Bamboo
Bamboo can be cultivated for many reasons. For the products that can be made from bamboo, aesthetic purposes, even purposes like home security. But growing bamboo can be more difficult than it seems. Cultivating bamboo takes knowledge and some time to devote to the process of growing it, but in the end, it can be rewarding by having that perfect garden or plenty of bamboo for whatever project is being planned.
Caring for bamboo is just as time consuming as caring for other plants according to Bamboo Nursery. It has conditions in which it flourishes best, but of course those conditions can be different for every species of bamboo. Most bamboo does well in geographic areas that are considered temperate, sub-tropical, or tropical. In gardening zones, this means heartier plants will thrive in zones 4 through 8, sub-tropical plants will thrive in zones 9 and 10, and tropical plants will thrive in zone 10 alone.
Bamboo flourishes in soil that is moist and rich with nutrients. Studies have been done to show that bamboo that has grown in moist soil grows taller, while bamboo grown in dryer soil grows, but does most of it's growing underground in the root systems called rhizomes.
Watering bamboo can be tricky. Normal sprinkler systems are not designed to water bamboo effectively; they are designed for plants like lawns and shrubbery. Bamboo needs water to get to the main rootball to get the water it needs, and this is generally done with drip irrigation systems. Using regular sprinklers can kill the plants around bamboo, and may still not get the bamboo the water it needs.
The one thing many bamboo enthusiasts don't want to see is flowering bamboo. While flowering bamboo is pretty, it only happens once in a bamboo plant's life, and the plant then dies quickly afterwards. Flowering bamboo generally happens when the bamboo plant has lived for a decade or so, and is close to the end of its life span.
Others who have studied this phenomenon suggest that the flowering process is actually what kills the original bamboo. That the bamboo is not close to the end of its natural life span. This is supported by the fact that some gardeners are successful at saving the original bamboo plant once it flowers. It all depends on how well cared for the plant is.
Controlling the Spread
One of the major parts of growing bamboo is controlling the spread of the rhizomes. There are two basic types of bamboo called runners, and clumpers. Runners are species of bamboo which spread out quickly with long rhizomes under ground that sprout several new culms (or stems) all at once. Clumpers are bamboo plants that spread slowly around the place where they are originally planted.
When dealing with trying to control the spread of plants, pruning is usually the first option. By clipping old branches as well as some new ones, bamboo can be sculpted to grow in smaller spaces, whether you're using clumpers or runners. Of course, doing this too much can kill the plant as well, or affect the size of the returning plants.
The other method for controlling the spread of the plants is a little more labor intensive. It involves digging up the rhizomes of the plant, especially runners, and using an axe to chop them apart before reburying what is left. This is generally left to extreme cases of spreading though.
Cultivating bamboo is as rewarding as growing other plants, and sometimes just as difficult if not more so. But knowing how to care for bamboo and how to control the spreading can go a long way into keeping your bamboo from flowering any sooner than the particular species of plant you're cultivating should.