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Fertilizing Bamboo

Bamboo is a fast growing plant and hungry for several specific nutrients. The quality and quantity of nutrients used will determine the overall growth rate and quality of the clump. Through years of research and plenty of trial and error, we have put together a system of fertilizers and natural soil amendments that push bamboo to its maximum growth rate. Each of the following components can be used to add an additional degree of nutrition to your bamboo clump. While all of the following components are not necessary to grow bamboo, they all do bring their own unique benefits to the plant. Some folks grow beautiful bamboo with composted manure and nothing else, but to get the best production with the brightest colors and finishes we recommend the following.

The Best $3 you’ll ever spend

When installing your bamboo starter one of the smartest things you can do is inoculate the roots with a beneficial Mycorrhizae fungi. Mycorrhizae is Greek for fungus root and it is exactly that, its a fungus that attaches itself to the bamboo roots and acts as a secondary root system. Once established, Mycorrhizae will colonize and grow on the bamboo plants root system , serving as a physical barrier against disease and pathogens, while holding valuable water and nutrition in the root zone. Plants inoculated with Mycorrhizae will have a much larger overall root system than a non inoculated plant. The best part is that Mycorrhizae is long lasting. Because it’s a fungus it stays growing on the plants root system permanently. One application at planting is all that is needed to benefit the root zone long term.  Mycorrhizae is usually quite expensive and can cost over $100 per pound of quality inoculant. We carry a product called Recharge that is loaded with Mycorrhizae (among other goodies) and comes in single plant packets. Each packet makes enough solution to treat one newly installed bamboo plant. We use Recharge year round for its many other benefits, but using it at installation is a no brainer. If your installing bamboo get some Mycorrhizae on the roots. Click here to check out Realgrowers Recharge.

The steak and potatoes

Bamboo is a hungry plant. A large, mature bamboo clump can use over 5 pounds of NPK fertilizer each year!  What bamboo likes best is a consistent release of nitrogen and potassium as found in our 13-3-13 Bamboo Special Fertilizer.  Nitrogen is responsible for the green color and growth of new foliage and shoots. Bamboo uses more nitrogen than any other macro element and keeping enough nitrogen in supply is the difference between aggressive growth and none at all. Bamboo uses potassium to grow a healthy, strong  root mass and uses plenty of it. We have formulated a plant specific slow release NPK blend loaded with 100% controlled release Nitrogen and Potassium that works absolutely amazing with any bamboo.  The secret is the 12 month controlled release nutrition. Because the plants are being fed all year around we avoid seasonal spikes, the plant has what it needs every day of the year. The results are happy and healthy plants with growth rates that you have to see to believe. Check out our 13-3-13 Bamboo Special fertilizer here.

More microbes please

While bamboo gets most of its macronutrients from the Bamboo Special 13-3-13 NPK fertilizer we use as a base, how do we get that powerful fertilizer to stick around in the root zone?  Non organic fertilizers like our Bamboo Special 13-3-13 provide plenty of nutrition, but can easily be carried directly past the root zone by the irrigation water. The way to get the nutrition to stick around in the root zone is to get the powerful inorganic nutrients to bond to the sticky organic ones. This is where we use our old friend Myco Tea. At installation we used Myco Tea to get the powerful Mycorrhizae fungi onto the root zone where it can grow and protect new roots. But now we want to use the Myco Tea because it is loaded with sticky organic particles that easily bond to fertilizer and keep it from washing out of the root zone. It also loaded with billions of beneficial bacteria that act as the stomachs of the soil, digesting and unlocking nutrition while delivering  and holding it in the root zone. We use Myco Tea as directed every 2-4 weeks (depending on the growing season) to stimulate new activity in the root zone. Find more information about Myco Tea by Supreme Growers here.

One last slick trick for healthier bamboo

One of the lesser known facts about bamboo is how much silica it contains and uses. Bamboo uses Silica as a macronutrient (just like Nitrogen and Potassium) and while it can take some silica out of the soil, it thrives on supplemental  Silica and will use as much of it as you can supply. We supplement our bamboo (especially when young) with a pure silica product that we sell by the pound. You can use this powdered  silica straight or dilute 4 ounces to each gallon of water to make a concentrate that you can use longterm at a rate of a teaspoon per gallon of water/nutrient solution in the watering can.We recommend supplimenting with silica to all our clients.  Using silica occasionally in the irrigation water is a great way to supercharge the growth of your bamboo clump. Check out Supreme Growers Simply Silica here.

Polyon 12 month Slow Controlled Release Fertilizer- Controlled release fertilizers are dollar for dollar the best investment you can make for your bamboo. Ours lasts 2 times longer than Home Depot Products like Osmicote or Dynamite. They are double the price and last 1/2 as long as 12 month Polyon). I buy the best, most advanced fertilizer money can buy. My fertilizer is custom mixed for me in large quantities and is specially designed for bamboo (with chelated minors & silica). I love it because of its ease of use and reliable, consistent delivery of nutrients to the plant for 1 year. Unlike most fertilizers, ours won’t expel all its nutrients just because it rains for a week straight. Consistent nutrient delivery is also the responsible way to feed your plants without environmental runoff into the watershed.

Imidacloroprid- is a systemic insecticide that is made from a variation of nicotine.  It is a long lasting systemic that can be applied every 4 to 8 weeks and comes in liquid and granules. It can be sprinkled on the ground or root drenched or foliar sprayed. You can find it under a variety of labels and makes, just look for Imidacloroprid as the active ingredient. Merit is a popular brand name available. The granules are the easiest to apply in my opinion. The idea is to keep the bugs off the bamboo, and keep it looking beautiful, most bugs won’t hurt the bamboos health, just the appearance, most importantly scale. Scale is a bug that can make your bamboo look less than showroom perfect and can be controlled systemically through Imidacloroprid. I DO NOT SELL IMIDACLOROPRID AND IT IS BEING BLAMED FOR MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS LIKE COLONY COLLAPSE IN BEES. IF YOU NEED TO USE THIS PRODUCT PLEASE USE IT RESPONSIBLY AND SPARINGLY. 

  •  An old bamboo grower uses coffee grounds to keep the bugs away. I have never tried this myself, but you can give it a try and let me know.

These are the environmentally friendly products I use to grow my plants healthy and fast. I offer them as a service to my customers because it is good business for me when my bamboo, thrives and grows into the showpiece of your landscape. All of the recommended products can and will improve performance in most plants. Please don’t just use them on the bamboo. Palms especially respond to beneficial bacteria, fungi and soil microbes. You will find them to be highly concentrated, and a much better value than homeowner marketed products.

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