• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Beau Davidson
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Casie Becker
  • Mike Barkley

Bamboo Going to Seed and Dying

 
Posts: 33
9
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone,
I am growing a few groves of bamboo. Yellow and Rubro. I want to get some Bissetti sometime, but none yet. So far so good, everything is growing well, and feeding animals in the winter, according to plan.

However, bamboo is known to go to seed periodically. Nobody seems to know when exactly, and when it goes to seed, it dies. The whole grove dies. This can be devastating to communities that are based around bamboo, which would include my small livestock plans. So far my bamboo is fine, and I have never met anyone who had a grove go to seed. I am wondering if anyone has ever experienced this, and how long it took the new seeds to re-establish themselves, or any species that are immune to this cycle.

I am hoping to get at least three species established here, in the hopes that if one goes to seed, I can keep the others, etc. Are there other strategies or ideas out there for mitigating this?

Here is an article about it.
https://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/09/the-mysterious-phenomenon-of-bamboo.html
 
gardener
Posts: 4408
Location: Southern Illinois
951
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi T S,

From what I understand, each species has its own timetable for dieback and yes, it can be devastating.  

My suggestion is to plant multiple species—as you seem to have done—so that if/when dieback occurs, you will at least have some bamboo left in your grove.

Eric
 
Posts: 24
Location: Zone 5 Atlantic Canada
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m in zone 5 and have a tiny struggling/almost dead clump of fargesia Murielae (probably too much wind exposure, or soil too dry there?)

Anyway, I REALLY want to establish some bamboo for real, I have a very windy site mostly in part shade. The only bamboo for sale around here is very rare and expensive. Do either of you know if any of the species you grow actually come up well from seed? Especially hardy varieties that might actually make it here?

Thanks.
 
pollinator
Posts: 483
Location: SE Indiana
271
dog fish trees writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I remember seeing a documentary years ago about a particular species of bamboo and a particular species of rat. It was in India if I remember right. Anyway, it was a very large type of bamboo and once every 17 years it flowers and produces a huge abundance of seed which the rats love. The old bamboo dies, and the rat population explodes. Eventually the bamboo seed is all eaten, and the rats begin to starve but before they do they overrun everything, the fields, gardens, towns. They eat everything including all of the rice, whether it is growing or in storage, they even eat each other's dead bodies.  All life in that region is disrupted for a couple of years until the bamboo starts regrowing and the rats die out.
 
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
125
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My P. Henon Nigra (Black bamboo) is blooming and has been for two years now.  This year it didn’t even put out any leaves, just more blooms.  I have multiple varieties to hedge against this.  The rats do seem a bit more active this year in general.  The whole patch is probably 50x50’, so hopefully the glut of seed isn’t enough to fuel a plague!  You can see it in the background of this picture.  It is quite sad looking.  I called the nursery where I got it over a decade ago, and their’s is blooming as well despite being on the other side of the country.  Nigra’s interval is known to be around 40 years.  My Gray Henon, a closely related variety, is not blooming.

DD7A1B63-A427-4951-86AC-CE4F50199034.jpeg
[Thumbnail for DD7A1B63-A427-4951-86AC-CE4F50199034.jpeg]
 
master gardener
Posts: 7140
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3291
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not aware of my Phyllostachys nigra blooming until this year, but it certainly is now! My friend and I both got ours from the same lady, so we know they're clones.

I've started some research. I think my goal will be to try to save seed and germinate it, although I understand fertility's an issue. Gray, have you tried to save any seed and/or germinate it?

I also have two other bamboo varieties - P dulcis and P nidularia. However, P nigra is so pretty that I'm really hoping to be able to start anew with it! If anyone has any info that would help, please speak up!
 
Posts: 2
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To my understanding each species has a life cycle and some are over 100 years. When they reach the seed stage it happens worldwide for that species.  The stuff about the rat plagues is true and some cultures feast on rat for a year or two. I'd collect as much seed as you can and then the following year germinate it and grow as much as you can...there will be a lot of others who are not aware of the cycle who will want to re establish their groves as well and I think you might be able to make a tidy profit for your efforts in this vein. Selling the seed or the new plants will be an opportunity that comes once in a generation for some species and I'd guess the longer the life cycle the harder it will be for some people to get their groves back up and running. For some groves it will take as long as ten years for the root structures to develop into vibrant levels again, I'm guessing that like with any grass species you could speed this up with good fertilization technique.
Best of luck!
 
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know much about your variety, but I know giant bamboo, some of which I'm trying to germinate, only flower once in 75yrs. The solution for any of us trying to grow it, is to plant fresh every year, or 5 yrs eg.
 
Posts: 25
12
forest garden plumbing earthworks wood heat homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had two different varieties of bamboo that "went to seed" and eventually died..  It is a sad but an interesting phenomenon to experience and there is nothing much that we can do about it.  I have been growing bamboo for the last thirty years and have learned a lot,..  mostly the hard way.  I have experimented with roughly twenty different varieties  and have found that it is hard to find ones that do well in my location.    Quite possibly the biggest problem is that local "critters " (mostly squirrels, but also deer, cows, rabbits, etc.) soon find that the spring-time shoots are delectable and will eat every last one of them.  This has the effect of limiting the spread of the bamboo and eventually killing it as it stops reproducing...   "Running bamboo" is more vulnerable to being eaten because it shoots earlier in the year when there is little else for animals to eat.  The "clumpers" shoot later in the summer when there apparently is other stuff that the critters can eat...  (There might be a point of "critical mass" wherein a stand of bamboo is large enough to make more shoots than the animals can eat...   In my experience none of my bamboo has reached that point and I still have to protect their shoots in the spring.   I have tried various methods to protect them (cages, repellents, firearms etc.)..  but they have been mostly ineffective or too difficult to implement.   What I finally settled on was to paint  a slurry of animal manure (cat, horse or whatever) on the shoots for a week or two after they arrive in the spring...  I mix up the mixture with water to a mayonnaise consistency  in a five-gallon bucket.  I wheel this around in a golf-bag-caddy device and I mop on the mixture on the shoots periodically until they reach a three foot height.
   People seem to either love or hate bamboo.      There are a couple of reasons that I like it.  The main one is its aesthetic appeal.
Personally I love the look and feeling of a beautiful  and peaceful bamboo grove.   Another thing I like about it is its ability to provide shade.  As I have grown older and wiser (or at least more experienced) I am more and more aware of the danger of those beautiful old trees that provide much needed shade around my house.  I recently had to cut down a giant dead oak tree about 30 feet from my house and it was not only dangerous but extremely difficult to deal with..   On the other side of my house if a large clump of  50 foot high "textilis" bamboo...  I love the shade it provides.., the sound it makes rattling in the breeze and the fact that I don't have to worry about it falling on the house in this hurricane prone area..
 
Posts: 1
Location: Oakland, United States
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My P. nigra went to seed this year also. I've heard that they all flower at the same time, wherever they are in the world. I'm in California. P. nigra is "running" so a few years ago, I noticed a new clump coming through about 10 ft from the original plant. I'm going to try to remove most of the dying culms from the old stand (the rat vector is a thing here) and attempt to germinate some of the seeds while digging and replanting the new clump nearer to the older stand to maintain some balance. Would love any info on how to germinate bamboo.
 
Posts: 1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Many bamboos come easily from seed. This vendor is reputable and has two species. Both are rustic and fairly hardy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1047713164/dendrocalamus-strictus-100-seeds-iron
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7140
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3291
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

William Lantry wrote:Many bamboos come easily from seed. This vendor is reputable and has two species. Both are rustic and fairly hardy:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1047713164/dendrocalamus-strictus-100-seeds-iron

Welcome to permies, William. Yes, I had noticed that seeds for some bamboo are available on the web, which gives me some hope for being able to collect and start some replacement P. nigra. P nigra is a skinny bamboo which turns a black colour as it ages and is wonderful for simple garden trellises. D strictus is very unlikely to survive in my soil and cool wet winters, but it is certainly a beautiful bamboo!
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7140
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3291
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Fred Bove wrote:My P. nigra went to seed this year also. I've heard that they all flower at the same time, wherever they are in the world. I'm in California. P. nigra is "running" so a few years ago, I noticed a new clump coming through about 10 ft from the original plant. I'm going to try to remove most of the dying culms from the old stand (the rat vector is a thing here) and attempt to germinate some of the seeds while digging and replanting the new clump nearer to the older stand to maintain some balance. Would love any info on how to germinate bamboo.

Welcome to permies, Fred! I'm sorry to hear that you're in the same boat as myself and Gray Henon.  I know that years ago, I read somewhere about how to keep the mother plant alive, so unfortunately, I suspect your "new clump" will start blooming in the next couple of years, if it's just an off-shoot of the same grove. That said, what little I remember, suggested keeping it really well fertilized will make a difference. I think it was a very old book I read about it in, and some web searching didn't come up with info on defeating Mother Nature on this one, but I may not have used the right words.

I absolutely encourage you to save seed and see if you can get some viable ones to replace your plant.

It would also be very interesting to know how long bamboo seeds tend to be viable and any storage ideas that would help keep them that way.  Emma Carver-Barrass has merit in some locations, but wouldn't be practical for myself. However, do we know whether all seeds from the same mother clump will be hooked in to the same "flower now" biology that is not well understood?
 
Posts: 69
Location: MD, USA. zone 7
24
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Poking around the net, it looks like for the most part that bamboos have pretty fragile seeds. Most aren't viable more than say three months or so, which would explain why so many kinds are tied to the same year even if they aren't clones. Freezing and desiccation apparently can help increase the seed storage time. In theory, if you could get a couple different year-groups of the same strain going, they might not all flower and die at once. It might be a long experiment though, depending on what strains you tried!
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7140
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3291
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

K Kaba wrote:Poking around the net, it looks like for the most part that bamboos have pretty fragile seeds. Most aren't viable more than say three months or so, which would explain why so many kinds are tied to the same year even if they aren't clones. Freezing and desiccation apparently can help increase the seed storage time. In theory, if you could get a couple different year-groups of the same strain going, they might not all flower and die at once. It might be a long experiment though, depending on what strains you tried!

Thank you K - useful information! I will try to get some in the freezer, and try to germinate some fairly soon.

I'm not up to doing the long experiment you suggest, as even though the P nigra cycle is one of the shorter ones, I don't expect to live until it blooms again!
 
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: zone 5b
66
3
kids forest garden books wofati rocket stoves homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

T S Rodriguez wrote:Hi everyone,
I am growing a few groves of bamboo. Yellow and Rubro. I want to get some Bissetti sometime, but none yet. So far so good, everything is growing well, and feeding animals in the winter, according to plan.

However, bamboo is known to go to seed periodically. Nobody seems to know when exactly, and when it goes to seed, it dies. The whole grove dies. This can be devastating to communities that are based around bamboo, which would include my small livestock plans. So far my bamboo is fine, and I have never met anyone who had a grove go to seed. I am wondering if anyone has ever experienced this, and how long it took the new seeds to re-establish themselves, or any species that are immune to this cycle.

I am hoping to get at least three species established here, in the hopes that if one goes to seed, I can keep the others, etc. Are there other strategies or ideas out there for mitigating this?

Here is an article about it.
https://www.amusingplanet.com/2015/09/the-mysterious-phenomenon-of-bamboo.html



I saw this and my first thought was about diversity for animal feedstock, second was if you had considered other sources of fodder? We are in northern Missouri and just planted 225 fodder trees, white mulberries, hybrid poplars and hybrid willows. Maybe set aside an area to grow some of those species for fodder with coppicing? Nick Ferguson said that some pigs can get up to 90+% of their feed from mulberry trees alone (and he likes the breed we are getting next month-Idaho Pasture Pigs!) Other animals also seem to like those varieties as they are high in protein.

This fall, the kids and I will be collecting all the hedge apples we can and freezing them to plant hedge rows next spring. Hedge also is high in protein… but, after reading this thread on bamboo I am thinking maybe we should grow some of that too, for diversity!

Just wanted to offer a possible solution for feeding animals. I don’t know much about bamboo yet, but with 31 acres I have some room to play around…
 
Posts: 50
Location: Kalapuya Land, West of Cascades (600' elevation; 44°N. Lat.) Sandy/Silty Soil
5
forest garden fungi bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe someone already mentioned it or asked, but...

If the bamboos of the same species bloom rather simultaneously wherever in the world they are,
do young clumps that are clones of older ones bloom and die then?  
Por exemplo, if I had a new stand just a few years established of Golden Timber Bamboo,
and it was bloom time for the mother plant from which came this clone, will little George Cloney bloom and die?
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 7140
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3291
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

George Tyler wrote:Por exemplo, if I had a new stand just a few years established of Golden Timber Bamboo,
and it was bloom time for the mother plant from which came this clone, will little George Cloney bloom and die?

Yes, likely. I *really* wish I could remember where I read about some techniques that helped someone prevent the death, but I think it was an old-looking library book years ago, so I suspect the book has long since died a natural death also! If you're determined, what recollection I have is that you need to keep Little George well watered and with lots of healthy top-dressing. Bamboo *likes* leaf mulch and *detests* seaweed (yup - I almost killed some one year with seaweed, but it was big enough it pulled through).

I have a small pot with a clone that's been rooting for a couple of years and even had a new culm this spring, but the whole thing is in bloom. So far, I'm not feeling any seeds forming, but I'll keep checking. If Little George does bloom, I encourage you to save seed and plant lots of them in the hope that a few will germinate and survive.
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:
Learn Permaculture through a little hard work
https://wheaton-labs.com/bootcamp
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic