expected remaining lifetime?
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Author:  Eric [ Tue May 16, 2017 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  expected remaining lifetime?

Question: how long, on average, should I expect my bamboo to live before it goes to seed? I think I've read something like that bamboo goes to seed every 70-100 years, but as I understand it -- please correct any false assumptions I'm making -- the clock starts ticking from the germination of the seed and is unaffected by making divisions. I'm pretty sure all my bamboo came from groves that were established from divisions (as opposed to seed), and it seem likely that many of the groves those divisions came from were themselves established from divisions. So if I'm at least two locations removed from the original grove (where the original seedling grew) and if the groves I got my bamboo from happened to be at least 10 years old and if those groves were established from divisions from the original seed source (best case scenario) and those groves were 15 years old before those divisions were taken -- how long does it take for bamboo to size up from seed enough to start selling normal divisions? -- then all of my bamboo would be at least 25 years removed from seed germination (i.e. at least 25 years of its 70-100 year life is already gone.) So if I subtract 25 years from the 70-100, and then divide by 2 to get an average, that would mean, based on my assumptions, that, on average, I should expect any bamboo I plant to go to seed in 22-38 years. With more realistic, less generous assumptions, I'd figure even fewer years. Does all of this thinking make sense?

Author:  john voss [ Tue May 16, 2017 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

I was told that many of my bamboos were originally sourced from Avery Island - and yes, I have thought along these lines. these clones would have to be ancient in bamboo time. they don't seem to be weakening- but my Phyllo. elegans has gone downhill three years in a row, though I am not positive as to its derivation.

Author:  Tarzanus [ Tue May 16, 2017 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

Some bamboos do not perish completely when they flower. They do weaken to a point, but at some point, bounce back. LAtely, that happened with Phyllostachys kwangsiensis which has flowered and produced many viable seedlings. Established groves managed to bounce back years later and the old generation bamboo still lives. Fargesia on the other hand, dies completely when it flowers.

Flowering timer is set completely different for every different bamboo. Some have not flowered at all, at least not during our history while we record such events.

Author:  Glen [ Wed May 17, 2017 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

Records of bamboo flowering are very incomplete, flowering triggers are not well understood, and some plants recover after flowering. This makes it impossible to accurately reduce bamboo flowering to a mathematical formula.

If you grow a lot of bamboo types, some of them will probably flower within your lifetime. I have had four varieties flower over the years.

The practical implication for gardeners is that it is best to plant multiple types, and look at flowering as an opportunity.

This article has some very useful information and thoughts:

Author:  Alan_L [ Thu May 18, 2017 5:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

Glen wrote:
...and look at flowering as an opportunity...
An opportunity to dig out a huge mass of rhizomes and then plant something new -- if you have limited room like many of us. :)

Author:  Glen [ Fri May 19, 2017 8:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

Those who think gardening is boring or easy have not spent much time growing bamboo. If you have not injured your knees or back, or badly poked your eye, you have just not grown bamboo long enough.

Author:  dependable [ Fri May 19, 2017 10:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: expected remaining lifetime?

So far, I've kept any bamboo related injuries to a minimum. I'm not sure I would deal with it so much without the benefit of machinery, having injured my back doing stone work about 25 years ago.

To the original topic; I always include multiple species in the plantings I provide for customers, unless they want a specimen planting. This is mainly to protect against them loosing their grove due to flowering. In the couple decades I have been growing, the only bamboo I have planted that went to seed were multiple F nitida types.

Around 15 years ago P flexiosa went to seed here and mostly died back. I took divisions from the edge of a stand where some young rhizomes made a come back. The main part of the stand was cut down by the landowner, and it eventually repopulated with bamboo where it was not mowed, but it took several years.

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