Dividing Clumping Bamboo
The dividing clumping bamboo method can also be adapted to divide a potted bamboo plant before planting out into the ground.
This would be particularly useful if you want several plants to create a windbreak or privacy screen but can't afford to buy enough plants. Buy half as many as you need and divide them.
Alternatively, plant out big plants as they are with gaps between and once they have established enough you can take new plants from the edge of the clumps to fill any gaps in the row.
Use the following as a guide for the spacing needed to allow your bamboos to grow freely.
It won't take long for them to get established and fill in the gaps! Here is a guide to spacing:
- Dwarf bamboo species approximately 3ft apart
- Shrub size bamboo species around 6ft apart
- Taller bamboo species need to have about 10ft space between plants
- Giant and timber bamboo species need an allowance of somewhere between 15ft and 25ft in between each plant to give them enough room to grow.
Steps for Dividing Clumping Bamboo
- Prepare the location for your new bamboo plant before you start the division by digging the hole to a depth that matches that of the root ball and two times as wide
- Get your soil and compost mix ready to put around the roots, an average mix of 50% of the soil you dug from the hole and 50% well-draining compost. See Plant Bamboo for more about plant care.
- Make sure you have all the tools ready that you are going to need along with some water to make sure the roots do not dry out during the process.
- Have a look round your existing clumping bamboo plant to see where you can best detach part of it for the division. You will be looking for culms that are a couple of years old, are healthy, and I would suggest for best results to choose 4 or 5 culms to make a division of around two feet. You can take a smaller number of culms from larger plants if the culm(s) you divide have enough roots but it will take longer to establish a new plant.
- Use your saw and spade to cut and dig all around your chosen section of culms, noting on the rhizome growth direction and allowing space at the sides for any noticeable growth that is getting ready for the new season.
- Loosen roots by swaying the division backwards and forwards using the spade as a lever under the roots to lift it out of the ground.
- Moisten the root ball and don't let it dry out, wrap in plastic sheeting if you need to take a break before planting.
- Plant in new location as soon as you can and if you have to transport the division, wrap in plastic and ensure the roots are kept moist at all times. You can trim the top off the culms at this point. Trimming off the top half of the culms will enable the plant to put more energy into growing new roots, shoots, and culms and will reduce transpiration.
- Place the bamboo division in the ready prepared location, checking the soil level is correct with the top of the root ball.
- Support the culms in the correct upright position while carefully filling around the roots with your soil/compost mix and press the soil down around the bamboo to make sure it is stable and secure, and not wobbling around. Soak with water.
Bamboo roots, rhizome with new shoots
Dividing clumping bamboo and creating new plants is very rewarding.
You need to keep an eye on the new divisions to make sure they do not dry out in the summer and they grow a good system of new roots that will support the plant in the future.
Moisture can be retained with mulch.
Season for Dividing Bamboo
Although bamboo can be planted out throughout the year where there is a mild climate, you must carry out propagation by dividing clumping bamboo in the right season for your country and climate to ensure the new division establishes itself after the process. Outside of mild climates, give the plant time to get established before winter.
Please see my page on Bamboo Division for information on seasons and a list of tools that you'll need. Bamboo rhizomes can be pretty tough and will need strong tools to dig them up.