Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

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ZZZ
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Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by ZZZ »

Briefly, I live in Longboat Key, zone 10a, about 2 blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. My bamboo species that are all in large 8' x 8' raised beds where they are protected from tide surges: Lako (15 gal planted 2 seasons ago); Bambusa Chungii (15 gal planted 3 months ago); Emeiensis Flavidovirens (15 gal planted 3 months ago); and Emeiensis Viridiflavus (15 gal planted 3 months ago).

I have been watering the Lako 2-3 times a week, and the others either daily or every other day, as per the instructions that came with the plants. Leaves on all appear green & healthy. The Lako sent up nice shoots last summer, and being the most established of my bamboo varieties, it was the first to shoot this year when I noticed a new culm growth @1 month ago. Last weekend, I observed the top foot of the new shoot--by that point @18' tall overall--had fallen off due to what appeared to be rot. Odd, I thought. Just today I noticed a brand new 6-8" protrusion of the Chungii/blue bamboo, but sadly, it too looks rotted to the point that I would easily be able to push it over with minimal pinkie-finger effort.

Some mention that it is tough to over-water bamboo here in Florida, but that seems to be my problem. Though the leaves are green on all, are my bamboo plants heading in the wrong direction...? Would you guess the apparent rot due to over-watering to be reversible at this stage? Would you advise that I cut back to weekly watering?

Thanks for any/all advice you might be able to share,
pokenei
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by pokenei »

It is hard to over water. But, is the base of the bed water tight? or is it free to drain under? If there's no drainage, then yes, it's likely root rot.

If no drainage issue, then check for signs of infection. Although not likely, but some moth larvae could be eating the shoots from the inside. Check if that's the case. If not, then only 2 possibilities I can think of: Either something is eating/damaging the roots, or more likely it's aborting naturally due to various reasons.
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Glen
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by Glen »

Shoot loss and damage can be caused by a variety of mechanical and physiological stress factors. Unless you have some very unusual circumstance here, your problem is not caused by overwatering. Even when planted at grade, in heavy soils, tropical bamboos are generally very tolerant of excess moisture. In a raised bed over sandy soil, I can not see how you could have watered to the point that your plants were harmed.

Having said that, your plants have been in the ground long enough that you probably do not need to water quite so often. Once the plants have rooted out into the ground, the ground should ideally be kept moist. Constant saturation is not needed.

As to what is causing your damage...I can only speculate. Wind can cause the tips of new culms to be damaged. Burrowing animals can damage the underground portions of new shoots, causing them to die. Weather conditions can stress plants so that they kill off new shoots before they have hardened. Perhaps it is just not warm enough yet for your plants to shoot with vigor. I know mine will not normally produce strong shoots until June or later.

If you post some photos of your plants, and the observed damage, maybe we can provide more answers.
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by dependable »

Any container grown plant is at risk of over water under the right circumstances, especially if pots are sitting in trays or similar. It is easy enough to check, pull one out of its container and check roots, if you see they are rotting, ie dark color and squishy or slimy, then they are likely getting over watered.

If they are rotted or root bound, transplant into new soil medium and larger container if needed, and assure good drainage. Most plants are happiest planted in the ground.
ZZZ
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by ZZZ »

Hello--

Here are a few photos.

This my my B. Chungii, and as you can see, the extant leaves are green and lush. The new culm--first of the year--appears to be rotted. I can push it over with one finger...
IMG_4526.jpeg
IMG_4523.jpeg
Tough to photograph, but the B. Lako is in the 8' raised bed. It has been growing for a few seasons, and it also appears to be doing well. The first culm of the season is the tallest (and greenest, if you are able to make it out) and it had been growing about a foot per day, as tropical bamboo is wont to do. Mysteriously, the top 12" or so fell off recently, and when I inspected it, it appeared to be rotting at the junction where it broke off. Naturally the growing has stopped...
IMG_4524.jpeg
ZZZ
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by ZZZ »

Here are some other pictures showing that the leaves appear to be green & healthy. The huge one in the background is either B. Ventricosa or Seabreeze; nobody seems to be sure. We planted it from a 15gal container 5 years ago and it is now 35' tall with a 10' diameter footprint...
IMG_4525.jpeg
IMG_4527.jpeg
ZZZ
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by ZZZ »

In summary, both of my bamboo plants that have thrown off shoots so far this spring have what appears to be rotting issues. Would bamboo that has overwatering/rotting otherwise look as healthy as these specimens?
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by Tarzanus »

Zero experience with tropical bamboos, except bambusa ventricosa which could somehow survive completely dry substrate and live on air moisture that condensed on it in the morning/evening. It was impossible to overwater it as well.
I have no idea about lako, but usually overwatered plants also show leaf loss and yellowing. Even more pronounced than above ground rot is that below - root rot. It can cause signs similar to drought issues, because root mass becomes unable to supply water and nutrients to above ground growth.

What type of soil do you have there? You could try making the soil drain water more readily. I usually mix the soil with organic matter to break up the clay we have here. When it grows away from planting space, it usually doesn't have issues.
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Glen
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by Glen »

ZZZ wrote:In summary, both of my bamboo plants that have thrown off shoots so far this spring have what appears to be rotting issues. Would bamboo that has overwatering/rotting otherwise look as healthy as these specimens?
I have had a couple tropical bamboo plants show some signs of overwatering, but only in heavy soils, and when flooded under a foot or two of stagnant river water for several days to a week. In those cases, some new shoots were damaged, but there was very evident yellowing of the leaves, which you do not seem to have here.

My guess is that some other factor is causing your problem.

In any case, the solution to most problems with tropical bamboos is to keep them moist, fertilize heavily, and let the plants do what they do.
ZZZ
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by ZZZ »

Thank you Glen, et al. May I know your fertilizer of choice for these tropical bamboo specimens...? I have been putting down an all-purpose 10/10/10 on my now-big 35' bamboo a few times per year and it seems to have done well.
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by dependable »

Nothing wrong with 10-10-10, but it is pretty easy to overdo it with that. That is why I usually recommend a slower release organic fertilizer like milorganite, plant tone, or blue seal safe & simple.

Alternatively, mixing the 10-10-10 into some compost as a buffer to slow the release will work. It also helps to keep the nutrients form going into the air or leaching past the root zone.
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Glen
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Re: Help Pls! Am I Overwatering?

Post by Glen »

ZZZ wrote:Thank you Glen, et al. May I know your fertilizer of choice for these tropical bamboo specimens...? I have been putting down an all-purpose 10/10/10 on my now-big 35' bamboo a few times per year and it seems to have done well.
In my experience, the best fertilizer for bamboos (in ground) is a high nitrogen, high quality lawn fertilizer, preferably with some slow release nitrogen. I do not use high phosphorous fertilizers very often, as this can build up in the soil and cause long term problems. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for your plants. I do not want to endorse a specific product on a public forum, but feel free to pm me, and I can be more specific about what I use. If you are not familiar with fertilizer labeling, the numbers are percent by weight of the three primary plant nutrients. http://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant/label.htm

You may want to read this as well: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh014

As for organic fertilizers, that is a personal choice. See the above link for a few pros and cons (Organic vs. Inorganic Fertilizers). While I have used them in the past, I personally do not use organic fertilizers due to their high cost per pound of actual plant nutrient, the fact that they sometimes attract animals, and a few other issues.

Before using any fertilizers made from municipal sludge, make sure you understand exactly what could be in them, and whether you are comfortable applying those materials to your yard. Some people are fine with municipal sludge, but hate "inorganic" commercial fertilizers. Others are just the opposite. I suppose there is no clear right or wrong on this issue...just make sure you make an informed choice. http://www.mofga.org/Publications/Maine ... fault.aspx

In either case, your warm climate and heavy rainfall mean that it is probably best to apply fertilizer frequently, but in small doses.
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