Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Controlling pests of bamboo

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carolineelliott
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Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by carolineelliott »

Hello everyone,

My bamboo has had brown leaf tips for some time, regardless of the season. Some of the canes are almost dead, and most of the leaves have some brown at the end, although it varies from cane to cane. Can anyone tell what is happening here?

Many thanks
Caroline
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Glen
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Re: Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by Glen »

That is usually a result of salt damage, due to salt buildup in the soil, or salty irrigation water. I have also seen this in plants that were chronically stressed by being rootbound, drought stressed, heat stressed, etc. The plant usually grows out of it when cultural conditions improve.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I see a black culm in your picture, making this plant Phyllostachys nigra. This species seems particularly prone to the problem you are having. In my area, this species often shows the same damage, although it can be much worse here.

Can you provide a little more information about your plant and growing conditions? (Potted or in-ground, neighboring plants, how long you have had it, fertilizing regime, etc.)
carolineelliott
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Re: Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by carolineelliott »

Hi Glen,

Thanks for your suggestions. The bamboo isn't in a pot, but is planted in a corner of the garden next to a brick wall. Possibly the foundations of the wall are causing it to feel root bound? I've had it for over 11 years and it was here already when I moved in. The problems started a few years ago. I'm afraid I don't know the species, but it certainly does have some black canes. It isn't near any other plants apart from a rose which is about 1m away. It has to put up with the English climate of course, but other than that I haven't been feeding it - maybe I should do?. Recently I have started giving it lots of water (from a hose pipe attached to the mains) because I thought this might help to cleanse the soil. Before that I haven't watered it much. I'm a bit of a novice regarding bamboo, although I love them.

My other thought is that possibly my neighbours have been using weed killer or fertilizers, or some other chemicals, and if my bamboo is sensitive possibly this has affected it?

Many thanks,
Caroline
Tarzanus
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Re: Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by Tarzanus »

Most bamboos are not delicate when it comes to fertilizing or other chemicals, when established, they can even survive (they don't look good though) weed-killer treatment. I have often seen leaf damage like this in my potted bamboo seedlings. Usually it was caused by insufficient drainage and/or strong summer sun. The problem went away after up-potting and providing faster draining soil. They all fully recovered when I planted them outside.
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Glen
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Re: Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by Glen »

carolineelliott wrote:Hi Glen,

Thanks for your suggestions. The bamboo isn't in a pot, but is planted in a corner of the garden next to a brick wall. Possibly the foundations of the wall are causing it to feel root bound? I've had it for over 11 years and it was here already when I moved in. The problems started a few years ago. I'm afraid I don't know the species, but it certainly does have some black canes. It isn't near any other plants apart from a rose which is about 1m away. It has to put up with the English climate of course, but other than that I haven't been feeding it - maybe I should do?. Recently I have started giving it lots of water (from a hose pipe attached to the mains) because I thought this might help to cleanse the soil. Before that I haven't watered it much. I'm a bit of a novice regarding bamboo, although I love them.

My other thought is that possibly my neighbours have been using weed killer or fertilizers, or some other chemicals, and if my bamboo is sensitive possibly this has affected it?

Many thanks,
Caroline
I have also seen this kind of thing happen to bamboo when it had heavy competition from tree roots, but it does not sound like that is a problem in your case.

As long as your soil is well drained, I think it is a good idea to keep watering the plant, but do not keep it saturated all the time. Does your tap water contain chlorine or flouride? These are commonly added to municipal water supplies in the U.S., and many people feel that they can cause a number of problems with plants, including leaf burn.

I am not familiar with the quality of your water in London, but do not use water that has passed through a water softener, as the increased sodium is harmful to salt sensitive plants.

While it is possible, I doubt the problem is coming from your neighbor.

Based on what you have said so far, here are my recommendations:
- Remove dead, dying, and small culms...basically thin the plant.
- Add a good layer of compost and/or organic mulch.
- Water, as discussed above.
- Fertilize regularly with a moderate dose of a high quality, high nitrogen, water soluble fertilizer.

Hopefully, this will stimulate the plant to produce some vigorous new growth.
carolineelliott
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Re: Bamboo leaves brown at the end

Post by carolineelliott »

Many thanks for those suggestions - I will try those, especially thinning the plant as it does look very tightly bound at the moment, with numerous culms pressed together.
It hadn't occurred to me that might be a problem.

The water in London is very hard, and some chlorine is added, but not flouride as far as I know.

Thanks,
Caroline
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