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Planting bamboo seedlings typically involves choosing a proper location, digging an appropriately-sized hole and watering the seedlings correctly. Bamboo requires a specific environment to root in the soil. Established bamboo seedlings can endure harsh weather, but freshly-planted specimens can die from overexposure.
The first step to planting bamboo seedlings usually involves choosing the planting site. Bamboo loves rich, loamy soil and warm, partial sunlight. An area receiving dappled sunlight beneath a tree canopy works well, especially if the area contains several trees. The canopy and tree trunks will keep the bamboo seedlings warm throughout the winter and cool them in the summer months. The soil in the area should feel moist, but not muddy, and should crumble easily between the gardener’s fingers.
Gardeners should aim to plant bamboo seedlings in mid-August or early September, about two months before the nights start to cool in the area. Frost and night temperatures below about 60°F (about 15°C) can stunt seedling growth and kill plants trying to establish themselves. Places with mild winters, such as the southern United States, can generally support bamboo seedlings year-round. Gardeners living in a warmer climate can plant bamboo seedlings whenever they like.
Amending the soil and digging the holes are the second and third steps to planting bamboo seedlings. Even already rich soils can generally benefit from adding a pound (about .45 kg) of peat fertilizer or well-rotted compost spread to the area before digging. Amendments can be worked into small garden beds with a hand rake. Hand tillers and motorized tillers usually work better for larger areas.
The gardener must dig a hole for each bamboo shoot about 7 inches (about 18 cm) deep and 12 inches (about 31 cm) wide. Bamboo shoots need plenty of room to spread their roots, otherwise they may become pot-bound, wherein the roots wrap around each other in a circular ball rather than spreading out. Holes spaced about 4 feet (about 122 cm) apart typically foster fast-growing bamboo reeds that will form a privacy wall in one to two seasons of growth.
Each bamboo seedling should stand straight up in its hole before the gardener firms soil over the roots. Light pressing usually helps keep the plant in place. Watering the freshly-planted seedlings with about 1/2 gallon (3 L) of water right after planting can help weigh down the soil and nourishes the plants. Bamboo should generally be watered every three days, or every other day in very dry climates.
Bamboo is one of the few things I've ever been able to plant successfully. I wanted a natural barrier at the back of my yard, near the alley. There are too many cars using it and I wanted the back of my house to be less visible.
Not only did the bamboo take hold successfully, but it grew like wildfire! I have a beautiful barrier now, but as Scrbblchick noted, I have to cut the bamboo back every fall so it doesn't overrun the whole backyard. That stuff is almost as bad as kudzu! It grows about as quickly, but fortunately, is much easier to control.
Our local wildlife refuge has planted bamboo on the property to help stop erosion, and to provide shade and shelter for the waterfowl. It's been very successful. Apparently, bamboo does well in north Alabama. The only problem is keeping it from taking the place! They have to cut it way, way, way back every year, but they are able to sell what they've harvested, so that money goes back into maintaining the refuge. It's a good program.
I like it when federal programs are able to do things like this to help sustain themselves and be less dependent on federal money. That way, they're not hit as hard when the government starts talking budget cuts.
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