The colours of the bamboo leaves are a good indicator of the plant’s general health. Like many other perennials growing in the garden or in pots and containers, the natural colours of the foliage shows that plant is thriving. However, when bamboo leaves turn yellow or curl inwards, or the stems turn brown, it may mean that your bamboo plants need your immediate attention.
This article shows you how to monitor your bamboo leaves and suggest ways to attend to them, if and when you need to take action to save them.
By applying these simple bamboo-saving interventions, you can stop your beautiful bamboo plants from dying.
Bamboo Plant Care all Seasons
Bamboos are versatile plants. They can withstand a range of dry and cold conditions in their natural habitats. However, they are susceptible to prolonged dry soils, very high and cold temperatures, compacted soils and, generally, neglect.
To keep your bamboo plant thriving throughout the year, check for the following needs.
- Soil: Bamboos are not fussy about soil, but it is always a good idea to check the soil where they are growing, ensure that the soil is able to support the plant. If the soil is too low in nutrients, or too compacted, the bamboo leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant.
- Water: Check that the soil is moist, but not waterlogged. Add mulch, grass cuttings with small barks or bamboo leaves around the plant. If you are growing bamboo in pots and containers, lay the top area with mulch or pebbles. Waterlogged soil will cause stress to the rhizomes and root hairs which will eventually affect the whole plant including the leaves.
- Light: Some bamboo varieties prefer lots of sunlight, others like partial shade or shade. Many nurseries and garden centres provide this information when you buy the plants. So, grow your bamboos in the right location so that they provide the evergreen foliage throughout the seasons.
- Fertilizer: Bamboo leaves are the best fertiliser as they contain Silica which the bamboos need in a large amount. Rake the leaves and put them under your bamboo plants. They also require nitrogen, adding NPK fertiliser will also help your bamboos grow strong.
Here are some hand tools that you will need when caring for your bamboos.
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Wrecking bar: Provides leverage for removing tough rhizomes, roots or blocks.
DIY Hand Tools at B&Q online
Pickaxe: Dismantles rhizomes and clumps.
Handsaw/Loppers: Cuts culms to propagate.
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Sharp garden spade: Digs/cuts small rhizomes and roots, clears dirt.
Pedigree spade is ideal for narrow spaces.
Garden rake/hoe: Clears soil and dirt around the work area.
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Pair of secateurs/garden loppers: Cuts large rhizomes and culms.
Indoor and outdoor temperatures checks
- Outdoor temperature (Frost): Bamboos can withstand temperatures below 0 degrees, but extreme cold and frost in Winter can kill the new plants. There is little you can do to avoid the weather, however adding mulch or preferably grass cuttings, or creating a humus reach base around your bamboo will protect the plants from the Winter’s cold.
- Indoor temperature (Heat): Bamboos in containers can succumb to indoor heat and temperature fluctuation. If the heat is too high or the surrounding heat change abruptly, the leaves of the bamboo plant will roll into a curl to protect themselves from water loss. Heat also can cause brownness around the culms (stems). So, keep them in check so that they do not succumb to indoor heat.
Fertilisers with an equal proportion of Nitrogen to Phosphorus to Potassium are ideal for bamboo plants. The Universal Granules (Slow-release) Fertilisers are ideal for bamboo plants. Here is one we source for you. Take a look.
Revive Bamboo Leaves Turn Yellow
The bamboo leaves turn yellow due to a number of reasons. The common causes of yellowing leaves and curling leaves are stated above. In addition, the main causes of distress in bamboo plants are nutrient deficiency, bug infestation, and availability of water.
Here are ways to address the distress in your bamboo plants.
- Bug infestation: It’s rare in the UK to see bamboos infected with bugs. But, it is common in tropical areas where bamboo is a native plant. Perhaps, it is important to check for spiders webs and wasp nests in the leaves. For indoor plants, make sure the leaves are dust-free. What gathers on the leaves disturbs them from getting enough sunlight and eventually slows the rate of photosynthesis which can lead to an unhealthy plant.
- Moisture stress: Lots of water or no water in the soil is another common cause of yellowing bamboo leaves. Check the top layer of the soil to a depth of 5 cm – 10 cm. Dig or dip a bamboo stick into the soil and check the moisture present in the soil. Water the plants generously, even in Winter.
Check out this article on How to Revive Lucky Bamboo Plants.
How to improve soil nutrient content
- Low on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium: If you realise that the foliage turn from green to pale yellow, it is low on nitrogen and potassium. Do not remove the yellow leaves or cut the plant, instead add some NPK fertilisers to the plant. Apply fertilisers or a recommended plant feed to bamboo plants once or twice a year, ideally early Spring.
In fact, adding NPK fertilisers or maintaining the correct moisture level will not revive the old leaves and stems. However, the action taken to revive bamboo leaves turn yellow will improve the growth of new shoots and leaves in the next growth year. Your bamboo will, once again, produce healthy rhizomes, shoots and leaves.
Revive bamboo leaves curling
Bamboo leaves curling inwards happens as a result of two things: either there are bugs camping in the leaves or it’s too hot for the plants.
Some spiders and wasps build webs and nests using the leaves as cocoons. Usually, insects will use a few leaves, even one, to nest and cause no harm to the leaves.
The main cause of curling leave is heat.
Bamboo leaves are thin and elongated, they lose a lot of water through transpiration. If it is too hot, the leaves curl inwards to protect themselves from high water loss.
To revive the curling bamboo leaves, give them enough water. If the plants are in pots or containers, move them to a location where it is not too hot, but just the right temperature for the leaves to unfurl.
Bamboo leaves fell off the plants
Bamboos are a tough group of plants, their leaves are quite tough the plants. The leaves grow to full length and strength at about the same time as the main bamboo and live as long as the bamboo is standing.
When leaves fall off the branches of bamboo, it could mean the bamboo is old, cut the culms so that new shoots will grow. However, you should be concerned if the leaves start to fall off a plant that is 5 years old or younger. It means the soil is lacking nutrients, waterlogged, very dry or too hot.
Check the soil and condition of the plants by applying one of the methods discussed above.
New bamboo shoots and rhizomes tips browning
Most varieties of bamboo grow well in shade or partial shade, but others require good doses of sunlight. It is important to identify the varieties before choosing a spot to plant your new bamboos. The new bamboo (rhizome) tips and shoots will struggle to grow, turn brown and die when they are growing in the wrong location.
For older bamboo groves, hedges or potted bamboos, a browning of bamboo shoots indicates a lack of nutrients uptake. The new bamboo tips and shoots are competing with the old plants for what nutrient is available.
In such competition, the older plants always have the advantage over the new plants because they have well-established clumps or root systems. They absorb the nutrients resulting in browning of the new shoots or rhizome tips.
The best thing to do is remove the bamboo stems (culms) that are older than 5 years. The ideal time to do this is early Spring or late Summer. The new bamboo tips and shoots will be ready in time for the next growth year. (Read about how to cut rhizomes and culms)
Are bamboo plants ideal grounds for insects and termites?
The evergreen thick foliage of bamboo plants is an ideal cover for insects and bugs, especially in the humid and tropical regions of Asia and the Pacific. However, in temperate UK conditions, bamboo plants thrive without the problem of insect and termite infestations.
Most reported cases of insects’ infestation in the temperate areas, including UK, is wasps nesting in the bamboo’s hollow chamber. The best way to avoid insects camping in the bamboo is to cut the culms low down, close to the soil, and close to the culm ring.
Bamboo plant care – general checks
To finish, the general plants’ care and checks are important for ensuring that your plants are healthy. Ensure that your plants have enough nutrients, water, and light.
Hope this article helps you to revive the yellowing and or unfurl the leaves of your bamboo plants. Please leave a comment below to let us know what you think. We will be delighted to help where we can.