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How Bamboos Growhow bamboos grow Print this page    Previous topic Next topic


Bamboos grow in fits and starts. For much of the year nothing much appears to be happening, and then in one brief season they explode with growth. In general, the first year or two after transplanting, you will not see tremendous above-ground growth, as the plant is putting most of its energy into its root system.

During the summer and fall, most species manufacture and store sugars in their rhizomes. Rhizomes produce the roots, top growth, and new rhizomes. Then in spring and sometimes fall, they pump the accumulated energy into new shoots (culms), which achieve all of their height in about 30-60 days. The branches and leaves develop in another 30-60 days. Shoots of some species in mature groves in tropical climates have actually been clocked growing 4 feet in one 24-hour period! As a young plant's rhizome system expands, its ability increases to produce larger, taller, and more numerous culms. Thus, each year's crop of shoots is larger than the last, until the mature size for the species is reached and new culms continue to come up at the mature size. This may take a number of years, depending on the size and age of the original planting, the species, and the growing conditions.

Individual culms and rhizomes only live an average of 5-10 years, and the culms grow no taller or bigger with age. That is why the older parts of the plant are frequently the smallest. Old or dead culms can be thinned out to make more light available for new growth.

The shooting period varies from species to species and genus to genus. In general, the temperate climate bamboos are runners, which shoot in the spring, while the tropical and sub-tropical varieties are clumpers, which shoot in the late summer and fall.

The size and appearance of any particular bamboo variety may vary significantly depending upon climate and conditions. Size alone is greatly affected by location, temperature, nutrition, water, and sun exposure.


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