Bamboo starts slow, grows to impressive height

Recently, I was out of the country attending an agricultural conference in Nairobi, Kenya. While there, I gave a presentation about the many uses for bamboo and the benefits of establishing bamboo plantations.
When I returned home, I found a lot of questions in my e-mail in-box from readers of this column. I had to smile when I realized that the first one I opened was about... bamboo!
QUESTION: "Can you please tell me approx how many feet the green panda and the green screen grow each year and about how long it takes for them to reach maturity?" - Susan Rodriguez
ANSWER: Bamboo is the tallest growing grass in the world. It does get off to a slow start by taking at least three years to establish itself (with minimum growth). Once the mother plant has established itself, growth will gradually become faster with each cane becoming denser than the previous. On an established plant, the canes will reach their destined height in one year.
The bamboo variety known as green panda grows in the 6-10 foot height range and the green screen grows in the 10-20 foot tall range. Bamboo typically lives until the plant itself blooms, which is generally in 40 to 60 years.
QUESTION: "I purchased 50 Red Twig Dogwoods 3 years ago. They are doing great. We live in [USDA Plant Hardiness] zone 7 and I just trimmed them back some. What kind of fertilizer should I use on them this spring? Also, what is a good fertilizer for Hemlocks, Compacta Hollies and Nandinas?" -- Jerry Schaufenbuel
ANSWER: Since they are doing well, I would advise you to be cautious in applying anything to them. Rather than fertilizer, you might just mulch them with an aged compost mix or other organic matter to give them any nutrients they might need.
If you feel that a fertilizer is necessary, use a low grade balanced one and use sparingly. Fertilizer balances out the soil and is usually only necessary when the soil is somewhat lacking.
For the hemlocks, I would add organic matter. Alternatively, visit your hardware or garden store and ask for a fertilizer specifically for evergreens such as hemlock and see what their best brand will be. Take a pitchfork and punch holes around the base of the trees spreading outward as the root system will spread out and not down. Then spread fertilizer as directed and water.
The same applies to the holly and nandina plants, as they prefer organic matter to inorganic fertilizer. However, for inorganic use, there is a product called HollyTone that is used on broadleaf evergreens (holly and nandinas).
As long as the plants are happy and growing, as I mentioned before, just be cautious in your applications and follow the directions on the packaging.
QUESTION: "I enjoyed your recent column about Knockout roses. I planted a couple of Red Knockout roses last spring. They have done pretty well. However Japanese beetles enjoyed feasting on them for a few weeks. When the beetles left the plants recovered pretty quickly. Should I trim the plants back during the cold months? Also, is this a good time to trim weigela bushes? I don't want them to get too large." - Barbara Moses
ANSWER: The Red Knockout roses are just fabulous, aren't they? A product called Take Down Garden Spray works great on those little beetles. Be sure to spray around the base of the plants as well as the beetles burrow into the ground to reproduce. Actually if you have a severe problem with the Japanese beetles, it may take 1-2 years of spraying to break their cycle.
On a warm weekend in March, you may want to do your springclean up. On the knockouts and weigela, as well as other plants, prune out any branches that are broken, dead or crossing over each other. It is also a good time for shaping to your liking as you can see the plant without leaves to block the view.
Weigela can be pruned and shaped in early spring and then pruned again after blooming. It is possible that they may bloom again after the second pruning. But more, it keeps them to the size you prefer.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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Hay, I've been growing bamboo for 6 years out here in the desert and I have to water it at lest once a week real good and I'm lucy if it'll reach 6ft, just about the same as my Omega Canna that I grow.
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The mature height of any bamboo is dependent on type and growing conditions.
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Travis in Shoreline Washington


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There was an interview with a Bamboo Expert on Radio Japan, in Feb 1999, that I saved because I liked the weird accent, but there is a lot of stuff about bamboo, and this guy's plans to cover the world with it.
http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/japancut.bamboo.ram real audio 12 minutes
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Ron Hardin
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Thanks for the post.
Do you know about "The Book of Bamboo"
(Amazon.com product link shortened) _sr_1/102-9391882-1140908?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid74426208&sr=1-1
or http://preview.tinyurl.com/3d689t
Bill who has black bamboo about.
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He'd fail out here.
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This is the High Mojave Dester where it's DRY and HOT most of the time and I run a 200ft water hose out to my garden for with out that water there would be nothing growing at all and to give the dirt something for the plants to feed on I shovel out loads of ssteer manure too. I've seen other places with the bamboo and they are luck to readh 4ft. Right nw there's 2 shoots of it starting to grow out in my garden.
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