How to Divide a Clumping Bamboo

by philinshelton on April 14, 2009

in How To,Videos

Since this is my first go at a video, I picked something very basic and easy to demonstrate.  I am just learning about the whole video formatting thing as well, but I promise the content and the quality of the video will improve!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Bud Smith July 19, 2009 at 9:00 am

Dear Sir:
I have a 3 gallon Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda that I would like to divide.
I believe it can be divided otherwise, there would never be any for sale, however I have been given all different types of horror stories concerning dividing it.
It is circling the pot, and if it escapes it plans on taking over the world.
I have to transport it back to my house in a few months, will have to take off the tops to about 3 feet as I am bring it by car.
It would help me much if I can divide it.
Can you give me any advise with this species – I have divided others, but not this type.
Thank you – Bud Smith – mannbud@msn.com

philinshelton July 19, 2009 at 10:50 pm

This bamboo is notorious for being difficult to propagate. There aren’t a lot of fibrous roots, so when you disturb it through divisions, it is common to lose foliage (which may grow back) and often entire canes will die back. So, brace yourself for possibility of having to wait for new shoots to come up from the rhizomes. That said, here’s what I recommend you do in order to get the best results, but no promises! First, soak the entire pot overnight in a bucket or wheel barrow full of water. You should completely saturate the plant before dividing it. Make sure you locate it in full shade for saturation and for the division process itself. If you have a sawzall, that is the best tool I have found for cutting the plant into pieces. For a 3 gallon, I recommend cutting in half (as close as you can). If you go smaller, say 3 or 4 divisions, you are probably going to lose a lot of top growth. Let it drain down for a few minutes, so you aren’t creating a mucky mess, then use the sawzall or loppers to cut through the root ball. The trick is to leave the root ball in tact as much as possible. Pot up your divisions, water well, and keep them in full shade for several weeks. Be sure to water them too. Without actually working on the plant with you, that’s about the best advice I can give. If your divisions completely die back, don’t give up. They will most likely send up some small shoots this season if you do the divisions soon. This is a very difficult bamboo to divide with consistent success – undisturbed root ball, moist potting mix, and keep them in shade will help.

Dawn November 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Your son did one great job of taping your first video – I think he may have a great future in film – Even though he’s only 13 and a bit young for making a career decision.

Oh and the presenter is really very handsome for an old fart

Karin December 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

This demo is very helpful. I have struggled with this project many times and appreciate now knowing about the Sawsall and blade recommendation. This should take the hard labor out of the process. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

terri cole July 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Phil,

Thanks so much for this. I have a bamboo probably 3 1/2 feet across at the root that I had to take out of the pot last fall. Last time I did this, I used a bow saw, an old sword, and needed help. Couldn’t get any help this time, so the plant has been standing wrapped with burlap and a foot thick insulation of layers of fabric, old down coats, etc. in big 30 gal. plastic bags. So now I will go get a sawzall, but couldn’t quite make out what kind of blade you’re using. Sounds like you said a wood printing blade? Is that right?

I see there are plenty of nice live shoots, but there are also yellowish slightly tan roots that I assume have succumbed to the horrible conditions I’ve provided this last year. Do you think I should try to prune those out?

Thanks again…this project has been weighing on me for a long time, and I’m so relieved to know how to address it.

beverly August 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

What is a “wood printing” blade? I have googled it and nothing comes up.

philinshelton September 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm

“Wood pruning” blade. Sorry for lousy pronunciation. Actually, if the potting mix is not purely organic (i.e. had rocks) a demolition blade will last much longer.

philinshelton September 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

“Wood pruning”

Louise July 29, 2013 at 8:08 am

Thanks for the video demo, really helped, especially with knowing to cut off the bottom roots. One question – when is the best time to divide Fargasia robusta, and Phyllostachys nigra and aurea?

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