The Seasons of Bamboo

The growth of bamboo through a season occurs in several stages. Sometime between March and May, depending on the species and Mother Nature, the first growth starts with new culms emerging from the ground. This is called shooting, as in shooting up, an appropriate term for this burst of energy. A few years ago, we measured the growth of a new shoot of yellow groove bamboo: 13 inches in 24 hours.

During the next four to six weeks, a developing cane will be sprouting branches and leaves. This maturing will take place through the summer, providing food for the bamboo. Through the summer and fall the plant is also increasing its size underground. The rhizomes are actively seeking new turf, preparing for the next season’s shooting.

In spite of its reputation as a fast grower, a new planting will take a while to become established. The Sleep, Creep, Leap Rule applies in this situation. The first year the bamboo is said to Sleep. The second year it is busy sending out new growth underground, thus, the Creep. The third season is the Leap - bamboo growing where there was no bamboo before. Often, however, this three-year wait is condensed into a single season. Bamboo surprises are one of the many joys of spring.

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