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How to split bamboo plants?

best pot and container planters for growing bamboo in the UK

Can you split bamboo plants for planting? The answer is yes, of course, you can divide bamboo into many parts before planting it in the ground. However, will the segmented plants do as well as the parent plant? Let’s have a look at how you can divide a bamboo plant and yet get the best result.

Split running bamboo and clumping bamboo

image of bamboo rhizomes freshly dug and prepared for growing

The bamboo plants from the nurseries come in pots ready for planting. Many gardeners and homeowners prefer to plant the potted bamboo straight into larger pots or in the garden. It is perfectly fine if you are growing bamboo for decorative purposes or as ornamental pot plants.

However, if you plan to use bamboo as a natural screen for a small outdoor space or for garden hedging, it would be ideal to separate the bamboo into smaller segments so that you can get several plants growing at once.

In fact, you can split both the running and clumping bamboos into small divisions and plant them out. They are vigorous plants and will do well under the right growing conditions. If you need more details, here is how to provide the right conditions for new bamboo plants to grow.

Check out the TOOLS for splitting and planting bamboo plants.

How to split bamboo plants?

So, how do you split bamboo plants? The best way to split bamboo is to divide them into equal parts while keeping the roots hairs and rhizomes intact. These 10-pointers will help you to split the bamboo plants and grow them for the best results.

  1. Remove the bamboo from the growing pot. (If the bamboo is too hard to remove, add water – or soak the whole pot in water – before trying again)
  2. Inspect the rhizome nodes, root hairs, and signs of new growth.
  3. Use a hacksaw or handsaw to separate the bamboos. Ideally, you should have 3 – 5 culms on each segmented bamboo.
  4. Remove any dry culms, branches or leaves.
  5. Trim the top of the long culms to redirect nutrients and energy to other parts of the plant where they are needed the most.
  6. Soak the segmented bamboos in water before repotting or planting in the ground. It is a good idea to plant the segmented bamboos into the ground immediately. Always, keep the root moist if you need to take a break before planting.
  7. Compact the soil or compost into the hole or pot.
  8. Support/Stake any long culms.
  9. Add Mulch generously.
  10. Add water.

Pros and cons of splitting bamboo plants

Splitting bamboo plants into equal segments is particularly beneficial if you do not want to buy additional plants for privacy screening or garden hedging. In hindsight, you save money when dividing a bamboo plant before planting, and will probably get the most out of what you buy.

Alternatively, grow the bamboo in the garden and separate them as they grow to fill out the gaps in the hedge. Note that the bamboo plants are fast-growing, but it can take 3 – 5 years before you can safely take cuttings off them.

The major factor that you should consider when splitting bamboo is the growth factor – whether the segmented plants will do well or not!

Time, site and soil

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Cutting the plants can cause stress which can destroy the whole bamboo. Instead of getting more than one plant, you might end up getting nothing. So, here are three things that are important to ensuring the segmented bamboo plants are growing: time, site and soil.

Time: When to separate and plant the bamboo is important. Many experts recommend planting bamboo early in Spring when the plants’ growth is prominent.

Site: Prepare the site properly. Bamboos are tolerant plants. They will grow where you plant them. However, to create an ideal growing site, dig holes twice as wide as the diameter of the plants, and deeper than the heights of the ‘holding pots’. Understandably, the wider and deeper the holes, the easier it will be for the new bamboo plants to establish themselves.

Soil: Use loam soil which is best for growing bamboo plants. Alternatively, use 50/50 compost. Add mulch and tend the plant immediately after planting and the following Summer to protect and care for them as they grow. Water generously, but not too much that it gets waterlogged.

Spacing bamboo plants

There are several types of running and clumping bamboo and they come in different sizes and shapes. When spacing bamboo, you need to understand how far they’ll spread in one growing season, Spring to Summer.

As a general rule of thumb, plant the bamboos with good spacing while taking into account how far they’ll spread. This information (average spread) is often provided in the plants’ specifications when you buy them.

In addition, plant the smaller bamboos and clump-forming varieties 1.0 to 1.5 metres apart, whereas the running bamboo is 1.5 to 2 metres apart.

Ideally, leave space (room) for the bamboos to grow. In time, they will eventually cover the gaps. If the gaps are too wide, you can plant new cuttings to complete the privacy screen or hedge.

Split bamboo plants after-care

In the early stage, you need to pay close attention to the bamboo, especially the bamboo plants that you grow from divisions. Not only that the plants are under stress, but the new conditions may not be favourable.

Furthermore, it is going to be fairly warm in Spring and Summer. The new plants will require a generous amount of water. Also, the slugs will be out to ‘party’ – add slug pellets to protect the new growth.

Other care provisions include the following:

  • staking the new culms so that they do not break,
  • weeding and removing fallen leaves that are covering any new growth, and
  • adding mulch to preserve and or retain moisture.

All in all, keep an eye on the new plants to make sure they do not dry out in the summer. You can rest assured that you can split bamboo plants and grow them.

Slugs and Snails Killer

Feeds and Fertilisers

Rhizomes/Roots Barrier

Heavy Duty Pots and Planters

What to do if the leaves turn yellow?

revive bamboo leaves turning yellow or curling

A lot of activities underground – careful when checking.

In some cases, the bamboo segmented bamboo plants will show signs of stress. The leaves will turn yellow, culms will turn brown or nothing will seem to happen at all.

There is no need to worry at this stage. It will take time, at least 4 to 8 weeks, to see signs of growth. So, keep watering the plants and check that the soil is not too dry or too wet.

If you see no activity after 8 weeks, try these options:

  1. Leave them for a further 2 weeks (By then, the new bamboo plants will have been in the ground for 10 weeks – Spring to Summer).
  2. Dig carefully out and inspect the whole bamboo. (This is the last thing to do- but do not be surprised to see fresh rhizomes or a new shoot popping its ‘head’ out)
  3. Just leave the bamboo in the soil over Autumn and Winter. (Bamboo plants remain inactive on the top, but there will be a lot of activities underneath the soil. Leave the newly planted bamboo plants to rest and check on them the following year).

In closure, you can split a bamboo plant into segments and grow them. The pros of splitting bamboo plants outweigh the cons. Get the time, site and soil right when splitting and planting the bamboo in pots or in the garden.

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