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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:53 am 
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Posts: 5
Location: Toronto
Hi!

Bought a couple bamboo plants in containers off of Craigslist last year around this time and they've been great, I'm hooked. Repotted one and split the other. Learned the hard way that new growth is probably the worst time to do that as several new shoots didn't pull through.

All was well until being away over Christmas recently and not leaving complete instructions---only said to water at most every two days. Should have also specified not filling the container up with water and continuously topping it up. Well, probably every two days, they tried!

So I met my poor drowned plant with about a quarter to a third of the culms intact and the remainder green with green yet completely dry leaves. In the last two months the culms have started to turn grey one or two at a time, at which point I've been pruning them. I was hoping that as spring started there might be some chance at the green ones coming back, but since they've persisted in dying I realised it wasn't just being unable to breathe but indeed something amiss.

Did some research and indeed, overwatering apparently leaves it vulnerable to fungus in the soil and what I'm probably seeing is "root rot" or "stem rot", the solution to which is "tear it all away, discard the soil and wash the remaining plant to put into new soil where it *might* have a shot at living. Pretty grim.

Except the plant is sending out a bunch of new shoots.

After all that, here's where I need expert help:
  • should I wait until it stops sending out new growth to pull it up as I've learned this is a bad time to disturb it?
  • or maybe some compromise of pulling it up and taking soil from the bottom and pruning the roots of the dead culms but leaving the living section undisturbed as it's not like i'd have gotten every spore anyway and it's more about keeping the plant healthy and drained so that there's no foothold for the stuff?
  • should I immediately cut down all the culms that have only dry leaves or does their being green still mean they might pull through?
  • since some of the growth is near the area of greatest culm death (more on one side than the other), perhaps this isn't so much infected as simply drowned? or minorly infected if so and the plant won and is moving on? something about the green culms continuing to go doesn't bode well, seems that means it's actively being killed? on the other hand, i don't think anything that had leaves when it was a swamp has lost them since the swamp has dried, just the drowned ones dying off then?

Thanks for any and all advice.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:13 pm
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Location: St. Louis area Location Details
What type of bamboo is it? Can you post a photo of the plant and the problem?

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My blog: It's not work, it's gardening!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:07 pm
Posts: 613
Location: Southern New Jersey 7b about 5 mins from Philadelphia, PA
Please tell me its not Lucky Bamboo also known as: Dracaena sanderiana? If it is then this website is a good place to start.

http://nevadagardens.com/StarNursery/page01/Tip%201048.htm

If its not Lucky Bamboo, then Alan is quite right pictures would certainly help our ID and would it effect the advice we would offer. With that being said I will take a stab at your problem, I would only remove dead culms that are blond/gray. If you decide to re-pot add a gravel layer at the bottom to assist with drainage. Lastly indoor air is usually to dry for bamboo and a water tray is usually added to the base of the container.

M

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:59 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:00 am
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Location: Toronto
Finally got to taking some pictures to describe this in full. Thanks for the help!

I would love to know which specific species it is. I know it's not lucky bamboo. It has green culms with two branches per node that are usually more-or-less equal in size.

It was once glorious, filled a third of my small office and really brightened my day. Had to use a wide lens to get it all in so it looks a bit taller/narrower:
Image

Since being drowned I've removed sadly many culms as they've died off one or two at a time:
Image

They don't seem too bad inside, about the same as a green one from another plant:
Image

Pulled out one of the grey culm-stumps, root doesn't look all moldy or anything:
Image

New shoots give me hope it's not completely toast:
Image

Other healthy plants have a bit of this waxy white stuff just below nodes:
Image

The dead/dying culms have it flaking off:
Image
Image
Image

And there seems to be some dusty/fuzzy something in a few places, but hopefully that's just dust? It doesn't really look like the cat hair I'd expect, though I don't really know what else it might be?

Image
Image
Image

The other two plants (the halves of the one I divided) are doing just fine with the same/similar care and this one had been fine for nearly a year until it was drowned. Here's a happy example in the kitchen. I think the brown tips are from the fluoridated/ozonated/chlorinated/whateverated tap water. Recently I learned to let it sit out for a while, hope that helps:
Image

Oh, another quick question while I'm here... do people remove the smaller spindly shoots for just aesthetic purposes or does it actually encourage larger culms somehow? If so, do I wait for them to grow a bit or not even give them a chance? (On the healthy ones, the poor patient needs all the leaves it can get I imagine... )

Thanks for any and all advice you might have!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:19 am 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
Looks like you obviously have phyllostachys aureosulcata (yellow groove). I think growing it indoors is probably the worst thing to do for it since this is a northern species that appreciates being grown outside, and since yours are potted, you could probably put them on their sides and tarp them over. Without a dormancy period, they probably won't perform as well.

Over-watering along with lack of growing room in the pot are secondary issues, but the best thing to do now is perhaps plant it outside in its natural environment. You are not that far from where I'm located so with protection, I think it should do fine. Also especially with potted bamboos, I do generally cut out the smaller culms to make room for upsized shoots as well as making sure their pots don't dry up in a matter of hours on sunny days during the summer when it gets up to 20-30C on warmer days.

Here's what my aureosulcata looked like last year in late May when shoots were coming up which requires a dormancy period of relatively cooler temperatures to occur.
Image

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:00 am
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Location: Toronto
Well, not obvious to me anyhow, but thanks! These unfortunates have been trapped indoors for quite some time, though maybe their former solarium home was cold enough at times. Alas, I like living downtown where having a yard full of bamboo is priced out of my reach so I suppose now that I've gotten into it I'll just have to find myself a more suitable species. I would be up for moving these to the balcony, however, it fell to -25C/-13F this year not counting the wind---wouldn't the container, without more shelter than a wall, freeze through so thoroughly as to preclude any chance of revival come spring?

If I put them outside in mid-February or now, would the month or two of relatively colder temperatures be of any help or would the suddenness of the change just shock and possibly damage them (-7C/19F at the moment)? Would it make sense to leave them to the end of November and store them inside for December and January wrapped in their tarps? Or even absent light would two months of warmth wrest them from the rest of their rest?

Alternatively (preferably) if I kept them indoors but took them outside to chill for March and April would they do pretty okay as houseplants or is that not enough dormancy to help them?

More pressing to me is my original concern of some sort of mold or similar developing from the drowning incident to cause this ongoing dying back of most of the culms. Are they probably safe in that regard?

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:42 am 
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Location: St. Louis area Location Details
I think putting them out for March/April (once it gets a bit warmer) is a good idea, and sounds like the best you can manage. You also want to get that "drowned" rootball dried out a bit as quickly as possible. I wouldn't worry about mold hurting the bamboo, but you sure don't want a moldy pot of soil in your living space.

Definitely leaving them outside on your balcony all winter with those low temps would be bad for the plant, as in probably dead.

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My blog: It's not work, it's gardening!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:31 pm 
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Location: Toronto
Around what temperature range is going to be good for giving them a bit of a break?
Will the transition be too sudden? The little shoots at the moment will probably all die?
It's -5C/23F right now but going down to -8C/18F tonight, but it was a fair bit warmer the week before (above freezing). Is it better to give them a longer dormancy with interruptions now and then when I pull them in overnight or for a few days to dodge some cold or will rapid temperature changes be worse than none at all? In fact, is putting it out even much of a good idea given how drastic the change is?

Soil doesn't seem especially moldy and has long since dried. I was just trying to figure out why all the culms were dying or if it was simply the overwatering that did them in and they take a while to fully expire?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:55 pm 
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Location: Dallas, Texas (zone 8)
They need to be under 45 farenheit for a minimum of 700 hours per year, says the little bamboo angel whispering in my ear...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:48 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:00 am
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Location: Toronto
Thanks for passing along the angel's wisdom--it sounds really encouraging as I think there are still 700 hours (30 days) left of such temperatures, or almost, so I still have a chance at providing a good (well, at least acceptable) environment for the plant. If you happen to meet again, could you pass on some more questions for me:

It's going down to -6C/21F tonight, is that too low? Otherwise it's going to be warm this week, almost too warm at points. I guess I'd like to know what a safe lower limit of temperature would be for a recently traumatized plant with 75% die off and several new shoots coming in already? I'm afraid of killing it the rest of the way.

Did some googling and there is a page at the American Bamboo Society that says it's more the amount of light and water that come into play and the temperature is less critical. I'm concerned it might be too close to the spring and it's coming out of dormancy. Does this make putting it out now counterproductive?

"When temperate bamboos are grown indoors, their environment is altered and the cold dormancy is not achieved. This is not damaging to the plant, but often results in leaf drop. Aesthetically, and in terms of maintenance (house-keeping!), this must be understood, as the bamboo can appear almost naked, and water requirements are affected. It is the short days (lower light levels) that have triggered the dormancy (not the outdoor cold),"

http://www.americanbamboo.org/GeneralIn ... doors.html

My other two (not murdered-by-drowning) plants of the same species are doing fine and did not experience any die-off of leaves or culms.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:39 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:56 pm
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Location: Dallas, Texas (zone 8)
The little devil on the other shoulder is always running off the angel, and I never get my questions answered...I think it's important to realize that a plant with a lot less leaves needs a lot less watering, though. I've only been studying bamboo for a few short years, and that angel is always flying around, sprinkling pixie dust and I think it has a.d.d. I did talk with a guru though, this weekend, as I visited Chambers Bamboo Farm in Buckholts, Texas.


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