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Is bamboo invasive? There are two families of bamboo. Running, which are native to temperate climates, and clumping, which are native to tropical climates. Running bamboo can be invasive, and virtually all of the "horror stories" people have heard about bamboo taking over are about running bamboo. Clumping bamboos are non-invasive and grow in a discrete area, centered around where they were planted. The clump expands in diameter over time, with the culms staying within a few inches to a foot of each other. (They grow very similar to a how a banana plant grows). We only sell clumping, non-invasive bamboo. So none of our bamboo is invasive.

What do the height and diameter listings mean? These figures indicate the maximum height and diameter that’s been observed worldwide. Your soil fertility, rainfall, altitude, and fertilizing program will determine what percentage of this maximum you will reach. In dry, less-fertile areas, expect plants to reach between 33% and 75% of the maximum. In wet, fertile areas, assume between 66% and 100%. These are estimates, not guarantees.

How do I select a hedge bamboo? “Privacy Hedge" plants are all bushy bamboos whose leaves block all view of what's on the other side of them. Other bamboos can be used for screening, but usually they will let some view through, particularly at the bottom of the plant (which is not as leafed-out as the plants listed for hedges). Some people select these other kinds of bamboo for hedges, even though they don't block out the view as fully, because they allow people to enjoy the beauty of the culms, have a cleaner, more-erect look, and provide a less-branchy culm that is easier to process and use for wood

What are the dimensional lumber equivalencies of bamboo? As a general rule, think of 1"-2" timbers as equivalent to 1 x 1's up to 2 x 2's (milled wood), 3"-4" timbers as 2 x 4's up to 4 x 4's, and 6"-8" timbers as 4 x 4's up to 4 x 8's. If you want to use bamboo for construction, furniture, and/or crafts, it's optimal to grow species from all these categories for diversity in wood size and quality.

What kind of spacing is best for bamboo? Spacing varies, depending on species and use. For a privacy hedge 3 to 8 ft. spacing is appropriate. The smaller species should be put closer, the larger one’s can be further apart. If you want your hedge to fill in fast, than closer is better, if you want to conserve your money than further apart makes more sense. Windbreaks can be 6 to 12 ft. apart, depending on the species and how fast you want it to fill in. Showpiece ornamental bamboos ought to be at least 20 ft. apart so you can enjoy the presence of that particular plant. Timber groves are typically planted on 20 to 30 ft. centers. Size of the plant and insuring room to harvest culms easily and safely are the main considerations relative to spacing. If you want more information, we’re happy to advise you for your particular situation.

How do I plant my bamboo? Green side up, brown side down:-)… Dig as big a hole as is feasible/reasonable (width is more important than depth), fill it with as much fertility as you can (compost, manure, organic fertilizer, etc.), mix in soil, mulch it heavily (without covering the actual plant), and water it in deep. Water every 2 or 3 days if it isn’t raining. Once the first shoot goes up and then finishes branching out, that plant shouldn’t need water unless it’s dry for more than a couple weeks. Spacing varies, depending on species and use. We’re happy to advise you for your particular situation.

How do I care for and fertilize my bamboo? There’s a very simple formula: more sun, more water, more mulch, more soil fertility = more bamboo. Diminish any of those and you’ll see less growth. Maximum growth, while important, should be balanced with maintaining the ambiance and natural feeling of your land. Bamboo can work its way into forest niches and thrive — it just takes longer to establish. We recommend fertilizing bamboo 4x/year with manure, compost, spirulina, or another organic fertilizer. Most bamboos are heavy drinkers, so watering them during droughts will keep them thriving.

How do you sell plants? Our hedge and short bamboo come in 2 gallon pots, timbers and ornamentals come in 3 gallon pots. The prices you see on the website are for these sizes. Ask about quantity discounts, plants in larger pots, and contract growing for commercial plantings. We also sell wholesale to other nurseries and to landscapers. We enjoy creating long-term relationships with our wholesale accounts to create a dependable supply of plants for them and their clients. If you're a nursery or landscaper and want to create an account with us, let us know.

What do I do with my used pots if I don’t want them? Please bring them back to us, and we’ll reuse them. If you give us extra pots (beyond those you got from us with out plants), we’ll give you credit towards future plant purchases. Ask us for details.

What pests and diseases do bamboo have and what do I do about them? Besides problems that come from poorly cared-for plants or plants that are in an unsuitable climate, there are two primary concerns with bamboo: mites and the bamboo mosaic virus.

Mites are little insects that live primarily on the underside of leaves and are usually found on the lower part of a plant. A bamboo that’s infested with mites will have white markings on the leaves, particularly on the underside. If left unchecked, mites can really bother a plant’s health and make it look quite ugly. If you suspect you have mites, there’s a simple, organic pesticide you can make to eliminate them. To 1 gallon of water, mix in 2 ounces of neem oil, 1 tablespoon of wetable sulfur (available at gardening stores), and 1 teaspoon of Dawn Original Scent Dishsoap (use only this version of Dawn, not any other). Put the mixture in a sprayer and spray all the leaves where you see mites, especially the undersides of the leaves. Repeat the spraying in week or two to kill mites that hatched after you sprayed. Repeat as necessary. Another preventative technique is to trim off the lower leaves of a plant that you want to protect. Mites don’t fly — they migrate onto a plant and move upward by walking, so trimming the lower leaves puts the mites’ initial home at an unattractive distance up the plant. All mite infestations can be mitigated over time.

The Bamboo Mosaic Virus has been found all over the world on bamboo plants. On the Big Island, the species B. beechyana and S. “ohe” (the Hawaiian canoe bamboo) have been known to have the virus for many years. Until a few years ago, the Hawaiian chapter of the American Bamboo Society considered all other bamboo on the Island, besides those two plants, to be free from the virus. Unfortunately, there is now concern that several other species are also infected with the bamboo mosaic virus.

Most bamboos are only mildly affected by the virus, with the only symptoms being a mosaic pattern on the older leaves (see photos below [soon!]). However, in a few species the virus can cause aborted shoots, oozing and cracked culms, and a general look of distress and disease. Once a plant has the virus, it cannot be removed or cured. And plants can have the virus and not show symptoms for over a year from infection, or perhaps never show symptoms, yet still be able to infect other plants. So it’s very hard to be absolutely certain a plant doesn’t have the virus. The virus is primarily spread through cutting the tissue of one plant and then cutting the tissue of another with the same tool. The greatest vector is in cutting the roots, though cutting the stems or culms of an infected plant also presents some risk of spreading the virus. Nurseries (or anyone propagating bamboo) have the greatest capacity to spread the virus and thus the greatest responsibility in minimizing its spread.

There are a few different approaches to handling the virus. The Hawaii chapter of the American Bamboo Society is working on obtaining an inexpensive test with the help of UH Hilo that will give certainty as to the status of suspect plants. Until such a test is available, prevention is the best strategy. When obtaining bamboo, only accept a plant if you’re confident that the person you’re getting the plant from is knowledgeable about the disease and has taken appropriate precautions against spreading it to the plant.

At GaiaYoga Nursery, we’ve adopted a “safe sex” practice in our bamboo propagation procedures, using a diluted bleach solution of 10% bleach and 90% water on all our tools to prevent the spread of the virus. (Since any bamboo can potentially carry the virus, we recommend people soak the blades of all tools for a few minutes in this solution after working on one plant and before using that tool on any other plants. The solution is hard on tools, but we think it’s better than losing plants to the virus.) We’ve also quarantined several species of bamboo that we suspect are infected and aren’t selling them currently. And we’re committed to being fully disclosed about plants that might have the virus, to protect both our customers and the health of all bamboo on the Island.

If you buy or have a plant that has the virus and is strongly affected by it, we recommend destroying the plant. Fortunately, we have yet to see an infected species on this island that is strongly affected (S. ohe and B. beechyana are probably the most affected). If you have a species that isn’t strongly affected by the virus, there a few choices you can make. You can keep the plant and just take precautions when cutting on it (using the bleach solution on any tools used on the plant). As long as there is not another bamboo really close to it the virus won’t spread on it’s own, so the plant can live there and be used and enjoyed and not be a threat to any other bamboos. We strongly suggest people not propagate off of infected plants, which will spread the virus. If you have a home that has an infected plant and you sell that home, be sure to explain to the new owner about the mosaic virus so they can be aware and responsible about it.

It’s likely that we’re always going to have the virus on the islands, but we can minimize it through using caution in our propagation and clump management techniques — namely, cleaning tools between plants, not propagating off plants suspected of being infected, and only obtaining plants from sources you trust to be conscious about the virus. The virus is not a big problem for most species, but we want to protect species that might be seriously affected from getting it. If you have any further questions about the virus, or if you think you have it feel free to contact us.

Pictures of The Bamboo Mosaic Virus


GaiaYoga Nursery: Bamboo Varieties By Type

Privacy Hedges

B. glaucophylla (Malay Dwarf).....12 ft x 1".....variegated leaf, superior short hedge
B. multiplex "Silverstripe"............20 ft x 1".....variegated leaf, green w/ silver stripe
B. multiplex "Alphonse Karr"......20 ft x 1"......yellow w/ green stripe, attractive
B. edulis (not).................................20 ft x 1"?....bushy, vigorous, unknown habit
B. burmanica (not).........................30 ft x 2"......green, bushy, impenetrable
B. luteostriata.................................30 ft x 2"......somewhat variegated, big puff-ball
B. malingensis.................................35 ft x 2"......big, bushy, salt-tolerant, large hedge

1" - 2" Timbers

Schizostachyum jaculans....................30 ft..........3 ft internodes, blowpipe
B. dolichomerithalla (green stripe).....35 ft..........branchless, blue persistent bloom
B. pachinensis......................................35 ft..........like oldhamii x textilis, uncommon
G. albociliata........................................35 ft..........solid wood, weeping willow shape
T. siamensis (monastery bamboo)......35 ft..........tight clump, branchless, stately
B. mutabilis..........................................40 ft..........branchless, elegant, strong wood
B. textilis...............................................40 ft..........branchless, elegant, prized, useful
B. tuldoides..........................................50 ft..........strong wood, branches down low

3" - 4" Timbers

G. maxima...........................................45 ft...........beautiful stripes, short for diameter
G. "Sumatra".....................................45 ft(?).......stripes, purple on young shoots
G. "Bali white stripe"........................45 ft(?).......stripes, unidentified species
B. membranacea (red)........................50 ft...........fine leaf, straight, strong wood
B. maculata..........................................60 ft...........wood mottles, furniture, very green
B. oldhamii...........................................60 ft..........windbreak, straight, small footprint
G. apus.................................................60 ft..........#1 roof rafter bamboo in Indonesia
"Hirose"..............................................70 ft...........straight, high-quality wood, windbreak

6" - 8" Timbers

B. polymorpha (?)...............................65 ft............solid culm, very strong
D. latiflorus..........................................70 ft............edible raw shoots, green
G. atter.................................................70 ft............high quality wood, sweet shoots
G. angustifolia (less thorny)................75 ft............friendliest of the Guaduas
G. angustifolia (bi-color).....................75 ft............thorny, beautiful
G. angustifolia......................................75 ft............thorny, best S. American timber
D. asper (Indonesian).........................90 ft............Asia's best big wood, edible
G. pseudoarundinacea........................90 ft...........cream striped, excellent timber
D. brandisii........................................108 ft............tallest bamboo, silver-grey bloom

Ornamental/Rare

Drepanostachyum khasianum.......12 ft x 1/2".......indoor, in pot, or some shade
D. minor "Amoenus".......................25 ft x 2"........beautiful stripes, green/blue/purple
B. chungii...........................................30 ft x 2".......white powdery culms, elegant
B. vulgaris "Wamin"........................35 ft x 4"........larger Buddha-belly-type, exotic
Schizostachyum brachycladum...... 40 ft x 4"........radiant ornamental, sacred golden
B. lako (Timor black).......................50 ft x 4"........chocolate black, showpiece
G. atroviolacea (black).....................50 ft x 4"........rich black, superior wood, prized
Nastus elatus.....................................60 ft x 4"........edible raw, sweetest bamboo
Local Giant "Jim Parker"...............80 ft x 12"......unidentifed, from Big Island, huge
D. asper "Hitam" (black)...............100 ft x 8"........black and huge, highly-prized

 

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