Arrow bamboo, or Pseudosasa japonica, is a hardy, running bamboo, capable of withstanding the winters of USDA hardiness zones 7 through 10 without protection. Grown in full to partial sun and well-drained soil, arrow bamboo grows to heights of 18 feet at maturity and the deep-green, 13-inch leaves of the plant complement beige stems that measure 1 inch in diameter. A quick grower, arrow bamboo works well as a backyard privacy screen.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Rototiller, sharp spade or pitchfork
- Soaker hose
Measure the intended planting area before planting the arrow bamboo. This runner needs plenty of room to reach full size. A 20-foot circumference area is preferable for decorative plantings. If grown as a privacy screen, the planting location should measure at least 2 feet wide, running the entire length of the screen.
Prepare the soil for growing the arrow bamboo when the threat of frost is no longer an issue. Loosen the soil in the planting location to a depth of 12 inches with a rototiller, sharp spade or pitchfork. After loosening, mix 6 inches of compost into the soil. This will enrich the soil and also raise the planting bed 6 inches above the soil line.
Dig holes for the arrow bamboo cuttings. The holes should measure the same height and twice the width of the seedlings' nursery containers, spaced 5 to 15 feet apart, depending on the desired density.
Pat the soil around each arrow bamboo seedling after setting one in the centre of each hole.
Water the arrow bamboo immediately after planting. Soak the soil to a 1 inch depth using a soaker hose. Between rain and supplemental waterings, arrow bamboo requires 1 inch of water every 7 to 10 days. After the first growing season, bamboo will only need watering during droughts.
Tips and warnings
- Create bamboo cuttings by simply digging up the roots of a parent plant and dividing those roots along with their attached stems. For running bamboo, pressing a spade into the ground and lifting-out a small piece of root-ball will yield a plethora of cuttings.
- Using a knife or scissors is rare when dividing the root-ball. Running bamboo roots will often fall away from each other with the slightest tug. Put each of the cuttings in a cup of water until planting time.
- Arrow bamboo does not require fertilisation until the second growing season. Fertilising sooner can result in burns to the roots. Apply an all-purpose fertiliser according to label instructions.
- Bamboo rarely flowers and when it does, the seeds the plant produces are often not viable. The most reliable method of arrow bamboo propagation is through cuttings, which are rooted in water and then transplanted in the prepared holes.
- Like all running bamboo, arrow bamboo will require control measures to keep it from spreading out of the planting boundaries that you have set. Planting on the raised bed will help control its spread somewhat, but you will need to cut any new shoots that you see to the soil line with a pair of pruning shears or fine-toothed saw. Repeat the cutting process any time you see unwanted shoots.
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