Frequently Asked Bamboo Questions


Some frequently asked bamboo questions are listed and answered below.
If you do not find the answer to your questions just email or call and we will be
happy to answer them for you.

Let us help, give us a call at:
1-877-RZN-CANE




FAQ

1. Someone told me that running bamboo will take over, is that true?

2. How many plants are in a container?

3. How many bamboo plants do I need to form a privacy screen grove and how do I control it?

4. Do you have clumping bamboo?

5. Can I buy bamboo seeds?

6. Do you have any Lucky Bamboo?

7. How often do I fertilize and water my new bamboo?

8. Where are you located and can we visit your nursery?

9. I live in a very cold climate zone, is it possible to grow your bamboo here?

10. There are some leaves turning yellow on my bamboo, is it dying?

11. When is the best time to plant bamboo?

12. Can I plant some bamboo in a swampy area?

13. Can I mix different varieties of bamboo?

14. Will deer and other animals eat the bamboo?

15. How much sun or shade does my new bamboo need?

16. Which type of bamboo can I grow in a container?

17. How do I order?

18. How long will it take after I order to receive my bamboo?

 19. How do I plant my new bamboo?







Where are you located and can we visit your nursery?

We are located 50 miles west of Birmingham, AL on 60 acres of waterfront propery and yes you can visit to purchase bamboo at the farm.  Lewis Bamboo Inc. is a state licensed bamboo nursery and can mail order worldwide. Most of our business is done within the 48 continental states. Our retail nursery offers on site purchases plus mail orders. For information about appointments click here  tours

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What do you mean by a gallon size?

Bamboo is a swallow rooted grass which is a colony plant. Since you are dealing with a grass and not a tree everything is a little different. We hold our bamboo in plastic containers just like any nursery and these vary from 1 gallon size all the way up to 45 gallon size.

If you are not familiar with nursery standards you may want to visit your local nursery or even Walmart to see that the sizes of a fluid gallon and a nursery container gallon are very different. A standard 3 gallon nursery container measures 10 inches in width by 9 inches in height.  So your 3 gallon timber bamboo will be 3 to 6 feet in height with a root mass 8 to 10 inches long, 6 to 8 inches wide and 5 + inches deep. We do not ship bare root. We add water plus peat moss to ensure your bamboo arrives healthy with a moist root ball.

A standard 2 gallon size nursery container measures 8 inches wide by 8 inches in height. So your 2 gallon timber bamboo will be 3 or 4 feet in height with a root mass 6 to 8 inches long,  4 to 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep.  On many divisions, if the cane is flexible enough, we bend them over and send you a taller plant. If the canes will not flex they must be topped to ship them. This does not hurt the bamboo as new canes will emerge each Spring once the bamboo is established.  Below are photos of typical 3 gallon bamboo root ball ready to be boxed.


 

Container sizes

Above are photos and details of U.S. standard nursery size containers.
From left to right, top row first show a 25 gallon, 15 gallon and a 7 gallon.
From left to right bottom row shows a 5 gallon, 3 gallon and a one gallon.
There is a Cola can for reference.

Width  x Height
25 gallon = 24 x 18
15 gallon = 18.25 x 16
7 gallon = 14 x 12
5 gallon = 12 x 11
3 gallon = 10.7 x 9.25
2 gallon = 8.5 x 8.5
1 gallon = 7.5 x 6.5

More details about shipping and plant sizes





What is a Field Specimen?

  


Field Specimens generally means big bamboo such as the ones shown above which we delivered to a new Rave Theater in Hurst, Texas.  However, it basically is any division dug from a grove and not grown from a rhizome (root) propagation. We sell divisions ranging from 1 gallon size to 45 gallon size. We ship 3 gallon and smaller sizes by UPS ground. The larger divisions are picked up here or can be delivered if the order is large enough. We have been delivering the larger divisions of bamboo throughout North America since 1996. We have hundreds of photos showing these large divisions being picked up here or delivered to commercial sites and private customers. We have extensive web site pages showing these deliveries and listings of numerous Zoos, Botanical gardens, golf courses, malls, landscape companies, etc. we have done business with. We have even supplied bamboo for Extreme Makeover the ABC TV series.
Just click here to look over these  Our Bamboo News

More details about shipping and plant sizes




How many plants are in a container?

Since bamboo is a grass and colony plant, there is a single colony with one or more above ground culms (canes) which contain branches with foliage for photosensitization. Your division of bamboo has been stabilized and is ready to plant. Divisions from your starter plant can be taken after three full years of growth in the ground. Container grown bamboo can be divided after one year and every year thereafter. For example, if you order a Phyllostachys giant timber bamboo there will be one to three canes attached to the colony of rhizomes. If you order a Sasa there may be 8 to 25 canes. It all depends on the species of bamboo selected and there are many to choose from. 


More details about shipping and plant sizes





How many bamboo plants do I need to form a privacy screen type grove and how do I control it?


You can plant bamboo as close together as you wish. Close spacing will not impede the growth, but will produce a bamboo grove or screen faster.

When choosing how many divisions to plant it is a cost v/s time consideration. Recommended planting for screening applications are one 3 gallon size per 5 linear feet. Under normal growing conditions, the screen should fill in after 3 years. You cannot over plant bamboo. If an immediate impact is desired, you can plant them in closer proximity, even touching. You can also plant less, it will just take a longer duration to get the desired effect.

On our Growing Habits page, we go into detail on how your bamboo will grow and how to control it. Mowing or root pruning is how 90% of all running bamboo are controlled, but there are other methods which we cover on the above Growing Habits page or on our  barrier page.




Do you have any bamboo seeds I can purchase?

Sorry, bamboo flowers very seldom. Some species have never been documented flowering while others go 100 years or longer between flowering. Seeds are often available from other countries such as China, but these are usually confiscated by custom authorities as they enter the country and discarded. Seeds are subject to the same quarantine regulations as live plants. Bamboo seeds bought on E-Bay are buyer beware and we do not recommend it. Propagation by seeds is a very difficult task and high attrition rates will be experienced. We do have many species and sizes on sale. More details.
Bamboo Sale



Do you have any Lucky Bamboo?

This plant is a member of the Lily family or Liliaceae and is not a bamboo. There are several different types of this plant, but the most common is Dracaena Sanderana. For years it has been a common charm for "good luck" when opening businesses in the Asian community. The current Asian and Japanese trends in home decoration has led to the popularity of "Lucky Bamboo". For information about this non bamboo plant please do a web search. If you wish to have bamboo just email or call us and we will be happy to answer all your questions and help you with an order. There are many other plants that are mistaken for bamboo. More Details.





How often do I fertilize and water my new bamboo?

When you receive your bamboo, it should still have a moist root ball. The leaves should be green  (during the Spring leaf exchange will occur so some brown leaves will be present the weeks prior to new leaves forming ). Handle your bamboo by the root ball only. Remove all packing material (tape and paper) from around the plant, being careful not to damage the root ball or any new shoots. If new shoots or foliage is broken, not to worry, the bamboo will replace these.  Please plant or pot the bamboo as soon as possible. Do not let the plant dry out before planting. Do not divide your new bamboo divisions. This will void your 30 day warranty and will not accelerate the bamboo growth, but will actually set your growth back. You may place the root ball in a few inches of water (do not cover the entire root ball) for a few hours before planting. If you cannot plant the bamboo within a day or two,  just open the wrapping on the top of each root ball.  Add 1 cup of water every two days until you can plant them. Provide plenty of light, but keep out of the direct sun so the root ball will not dry out completely until planted.
With bamboo, dig the hole at least three times the size of the root ball.  The larger the area of soil you loosen up, the faster the bamboo will spread.  Back fill your holes with good topsoil mixed with some composted material such as composted manure that any Gardening center sells. We also have BioSoil available for the perfect bamboo planting mixture.
Make a doughnut depression to help keep the water around the plant. Always mulch to help retain the moisture between watering. Also, this will help protect the rhizomes in colder regions. We prefer leaves or grass clippings as most bark mulch attracts voles ( mice like rodents) and can damage new canes. Once again, mulch, mulch, you have to mulch to hold the water in and prevent evaporation.  Here in warm climate zone 7, we mulch 6 to 8 inches. In colder zones mulch more than 8 inches for the up coming winter.

Watering

Over the next couple of weeks, water the plant regularly. If your plant does begin to loose leaves, it may be just adjusting to its new home and sunlight conditions. Even under most all conditions, the bamboo will retain 70% of its leaves. After a period of time, it should put on new leaves to replace the ones it dropped during the transition. During the hot summer even established bamboo will roll their leaves to prevent transpiration. This is a neat characteristic of bamboo so do not be alarmed to see your bamboo roll up its leaves. Watering during very hot times is great and will assist the bamboo during its growth. Once established, bamboo needs little care and normal rainfall is generally all that is needed. Watering daily if you have well drained soil is great!

Remember the bamboo canes on your existing division are through growing. Most all the growth now will be underground. Each Spring new canes will emerge taller and larger in diameter each year until mature size for your species and climate zone are reached.


Fertilizers

We have our custom mix Bamboo Fertilizer available. It consist of a time release fertilizer accompanied by a bamboo biochar additive to allow time for proper absorption rate. It is the best mixture we have found after 20 years of trials. You can also use a time release fertilizer such as Scott’s Miracle-Grow Shake n Feed Continuous Release All Purpose. Time release fertilizers allow for proper absorption incase your soil is out of PH balance. We are a little partial to the Scott’s name brand because they have great products and they have purchased bamboo from us for some of their personal homes. I would recommend a fairly well balanced formula such as 10-10-10 or even 15-9-12 (Scott’s Osmocote). The three numbers are important factors. The first number represents nitrogen. Nitrogen is the element for growth. The second number is phosphorus and it has to do with the transfer of carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are essential for the bamboo to store nourishment in the rhizomes.  The last number represents potassium and is necessary for photosynthesis. This is very important for the plant's metabolism. Extra amounts of this element helps the bamboo to withstand drought, heat and cold. Just follow application directions on the fertilizer and water well for a couple of weeks. We fertilize twice a year. Fertilize in early spring (to encourage new growth) and then again during the middle of the growing season (replace any nutrients that may be getting depleted).




 

Do you have clumping bamboo? 
Someone told me that running bamboo will take over, is that true?


Runners or Clumpers, No Contest
If running bamboo were going to take over the world, it would have done so thousands of years ago. There are running species (temperate cold hardy, Leptomorph) of bamboo which we love and there are clumping (Pachymorph) species. We dislike the clumping species and specialize in cold hardy runners. I grow around twenty species of clumping bamboo and have never been impressed with their looks or growth rate.
  • Running bamboo can provide a serene privacy screen or a beautiful bamboo grove to walk through. Runners with easy maintenance can make a dense natural screen.
  • Clumpers for screening purposes leave a lot to be desired as they are narrow at the base and weep over at the tops leaving huge gaps between each bamboo plantings.
 
  • There is a running species for most all climate zones. From the cold of climate Zone 5 to the warmth of the tropics, there is a running species suited for all applications.

  • Clumpers are very limited to the areas they can grow.

  • The cold hardy clumping species ( mostly mountain bamboo) are very limited in the climate zones they can live in. They take years to reach 8 to 12 feet in mature heights. In climate zones 6 and warmer, clumping species struggle to survive and usually die due to the summer heat and humidity. You can waste money just as Roger Sr. did years ago when he tried to grow many different clumping species. In cold climate zone 5, they will do fine if you desire a slow growing bamboo that matures at 8 to 12 feet in height. For screening purposes they leave a lot to desire as they are narrow at the base and weep over at the tops leaving huge gaps between each bamboo plantings. We sold hardy clumpers for a while and our customers were not happy, so we stopped dealing with clumpers because of their poor growth performance.

  • Tropical clumpers can only be grown in very warm climate zones such as zone 8 and 9. The tropical clumpers are giants and can grow very fast like running bamboo. The problem is the limited climate zones and the spacing of the canes within the clumper. The spaces between the culms (canes) are so close most specimens are very unsightly due to the large amount of dead canes and limbs in the interior of the clump. These dense dead canes and limbs cannot be reached unless some of the outside canes are cut away first. The tropical clumpers I have seen in my travels have been poorly maintained and are unsightly giving bamboo a bad image. Even a well kept botanical garden such as Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Miami, FL which we visited in 2003 for a bamboo meeting, had thousands of unsightly dead canes in their clumping bamboo. A grove of running bamboo is unparalleled in my book and we have seen thousands of groves over the past 50 plus years.
Clumping BambooBambusa Multiplex 'Alfonse Karr'
This is an example of Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' in climate zone 7. It generally comes back in the Spring if the winter is not too severe. Most of the U.S. is in a climate zone 7 or colder, so you can expect similar to worse results. The green bamboo in the background is temperate running bamboo. If you desire an evergreen privacy screen, running bamboo is the best option.

  • Control of running bamboo is simple and there are numerous methods which we have listed on our web site. Click here to read about growing habits and control methods: Growing Habits

  • Control of clumping bamboo is almost impossible. It is not as aggressive, but is forceful about where it wants to grow. Running bamboo follow the path of least resistance and change directions when they become impeded. Clumpers are persistent and will force their way through obstacles in their outwardly spiraling root path.
  • We hope to help you find the right bamboo species for your needs and location. Bamboo truly has something to offer all gardeners and plant collectors.




    There are some leaves turning yellow on my bamboo, is it dying?

    This is normal throughout the year, however it is most noticeable during the Spring time. All leaves will be replaced over the course of one year, so naturally you will see a lot of yellow and brown foliage as the new leaves form. Temperate bamboo are evergreen and if all is well with the planting, it should never be completely barren. The tips of the leaves are often brown and this can be caused by many factors. In most cases it is wind damage, but it can also be caused from improper watering.




    When is the best time to plant bamboo?

    You can plant temperate bamboo anytime the ground is workable. We dig and plant year around in climate zone 7a. In colder areas planting is best done during the Spring time, but all during the Summer months is also fine as long as you water the bamboo frequently.



    Can I plant some bamboo in a swampy area?  

    Temperate bamboo like water, but love drainage. There are a couple species suited to damp sites and we do generally have them in stock. The native North American bamboo 'River Cane'' and A.g. tecta or  'Switch Cane' adapt very well to swampy or poorly drained areas. There are a couple Phyllostachys species, atrovaginata (congesta), rubromarginata and purpurata, that also do well.  During the early Spring we usually have these for sale, but they sell out quickly.





    Can I mix different varieties of bamboo?

    Yes, they will grow together fine. If you allow plenty of room there will not be any problems. If you contain the species to a small area then you should plant only one species. Larger timber bamboo species need plenty of room to spread and reach mature sizes. Smaller ground or shrub height bamboo will grow fine among the larger species.





    I live in a very cold climate zone, is it possible to grow your bamboo here?

    KNOW YOUR CLIMATE ZONE

    Cold hardy or temperate running species of Bamboo all tolerate heat very well and most are drought hardy. Winter temperatures are very important and we will be happy to help you select the correct bamboo that will remain evergreen for your location.

    Climate zone map

      ZONE 4  -30 F to -20 F 
    ZONE 5  -20 F to -10 F
    ZONE 6  -10 F to 0 F   
     ZONE 7   0 F to 10 F    
     ZONE 8  10 F to 20 F   

    To the best of our knowledge and based upon research over the years, there is bamboo growing in every state of our country. In climate zones 3 and 4 you might have to resort to container planting and never have a large walk through or evergreen privacy screening type grove. It may not be exactly what you desire, but yes you can grow bamboo in all 50 states with a little work. In 2005 we posted records of the cities we shipped to. Click here to see if we shipped to your city or one close by.  Locations




    Will deer and other animals eat the bamboo?

    We live on a river in the deep South and are surrounded by more animals than imaginable. The last facts I saw, we had the second largest deer population in the U.S. and have turkey, squirrels, rabbits all over our bamboo farm. The most damage is done by rabbits and that doesn't amount to much. During the first couple of years, new plantings should be protected with wire enclosures to prevent any animal from tasting the new shoots. Hot sauce can be diluted with water and applied to also help with deterrence. In our experience, deer pose no real problem. Every area of the country is different in relation to the available food sources during a given time frame. So if you have animals either fence them or the bamboo to protect your new planting. Once it is established and producing an abundance of bamboo, you can relax and everyone can enjoy bamboo.




    How much sun or shade will my new bamboo need?

    Sun

    The general rule is the larger the bamboo, the more direct sunlight it requires. The large temperate species of bamboo such as the ones we grow are woodland under story plants. They are found in their natural habitat at the edge of forests. They will grow into the shaded areas and outward into full sunlight. Smaller shrub bamboo under 16 feet in height require less direct sunlight conditions and will be more likely to thrive in partly shaded planting sites. Ground cover bamboo 6 feet and under love shaded sites and will do best out of the direct sunlight.

    Shade
    This term is confusing to many and hopefully we can shed some light on the subject ( sorry ).There are basically three categories of shaded sites. The first type of shaded site will be deep shade. These sites never receive direct sunlight during any season of the year. These sites are not in the forest, but within the city where buildings, overhangs and other man made structures completely block sunlight year around. Sites under most trees will receive filtered sun during Fall and Winter months unless the trees are evergreen. Evergreen trees can provide deep shade if the branches and foliage are dense enough. Ground cover and shrub bamboo do fair in these planting sites.

    The second type of shade are sites where the sunlight gets through during different times of the day. This type of shade changes with the time of year and day. It is provided by natural obstructions such as trees and bushes. Ground cover and shrub bamboo do well in these planting sites. Timber bamboo are slower to establish their root system (rhizomes) in these planting sites. Once established, timber bamboo can do quite well with the grove having a tall canopy of foliage due to the reduced lighting. Lower limbs on the canes are usually absent in these shaded sites. The bamboo compensates by producing more canes and taller canes.

    The third type of shade is caused by man made structures such as buildings or walls. These structures allow full or direct sunlight through in the morning or afternoon only. So these sites, while receiving direct or intense sunlight, do so for only part of the day. Timber bamboo can grow is this type of shade with no problem and is a common planting site for many bamboo.




    Which type of bamboo can I grow in a container?

    This is a question that is asked often and has taken years of experience to give qualified answers. We now have a entire page with photos dedicated to the best species for container growth. Please click to the page for the bamboo suited for this type application. Bamboo for container growth.

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    How do I order?

    You can order online or call us Monday through Friday from 8 to 7 pm Central Daylight Time. Mail orders are placed on a major credit card and shipped out on Mondays. We have pictures and a lot of information on our mail order size bamboo. Just click here sizes and how we ship.

    Call and order now at  205-292-0536/center>
    E-mail: roger@lewisbamboo.com



    How long will it take after I order to receive my bamboo?

    We ship UPS ground unless otherwise requested by the customer. We typically ship on Mondays so customer can receive their bamboo prior to the weekend. This allows for weekend planting and avoids packages sitting in a warehouse over the weekend. Most places in the U.S. takes from 2-5 days for delivery via UPS ground. 


    How to plant my new bamboo?

    Your bamboo should arrive with a moist root ball and the leaves should be green (during the Spring leaf exchange will occur so some brown leaves will be present) Handle your bamboo by the root ball only. Remove all packing material (tape and Paper) from around the plant, being careful not to damage the root ball or any new shoots.) If new shoots, limbs or foliage is broken, the bamboo will replace these. Please plant or pt the new bamboo as soon as possible. Do not let the plant dry out before planting. Do not divide your new bamboo divisions, this will void your 30 day warranty and will not accelerate the bamboo growth. It will actually set your growth rate back. You may place the root ball in a few inches of water (do not cover the entire root ball) for a few hours before planting. If you cannot plant the bamboo within a day or two, just open the wrapping on the top of each root ball. Add 1 cup of water every two days until you can plant them. Provide plenty of light, but keep out of the direct sun so the root ball will not dry out completely until planted.
    With bamboo, dig the hole at least three times the size of the root ball. The larger the soil area you loosen up, the faster the bamboo will spread. Dig each planting site 4 to 6 inches deeper than the root ball size you have selected. A mail order 3 gallon bamboo's root mass 8 to 10 inches long, 6 to 8 inches wide and 5 + inches deep. A mail order size 2 gallon size will usually measure 6 to 8 inches long,  4 to 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep. 


    Back fill your holes with good topsoil mixed with some composted material such as composted manure that any Gardening shop sells. In our area this sells for around $1.20 for a 40lb. bag. This will help the rhizomes (roots) get off to a good start no matter what soil conditions you may have. Make a doughnut depression to help keep the water around the plant. Always mulch to help retain the moisture between watering, Also this will help protect the rhizomes in colder regions. We prefer leaves or grass clippings as most bark mulch attracts voles (mice like rodents) and can damage new canes. Once again, mulch, mulch, you have to mulch to hold the water in and prevent evaporation. Here in warm climate zone 7, we mulch 6 to 8 inches. In colder zones you will need to use 8 inches or more for the up coming winter. Picture details can been seen here.





    Contact us: 1-877-RZN- CANE or 205-292-0536
     E-mail: roger@lewisbamboo.com

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