Bamboo plant has been important plant in life for many people around the world. It is one of the versatile plants where its uses ranges from structural support for housing, floor tiles, rebar in concrete, musical instruments, hunting, fishing rods , rafts, bridges, medicine, roof, clothing to water and soil conservation just to mention but a few. Therefore the purpose of this presentation is to discuss growing of bamboo plant, its significance in environmental sustainability and benefits in clothing industry. Bamboo Cultivation Bamboo is a native plant in Southeast Asia, Africa and America.
It is woody shrub, perennial plant that grows in the hottest areas of the tropics, subtropics and snow-covered mountains in temperate zones. It has seventy genera that make up to over two thousand species. Bamboo is known to be the fastest growing pants on earth. In fact some varieties grow at the rate of one meter in a day. A full grown bamboo can be one foot tall to one hundred and twenty feet tall with a diameter of about twelve inch. This plant belongs to grass family known as Poaceae (http://pubs. caes. uga. edu/caespubs/horticulture/GrowingBamboo. htm, n. d).
Previously, bamboo was thought to be a primitive grass but according to recent findings, their DNA test indicated that they are one of the most highly evolved forest grasses. Out of over one thousand and twenty species of bamboo, they grow in a broad spectrum of color that range from green, gold to burgundy. It has been observed that some species do flower yearly while there are others which flower after every one to one hundred and twenty years. There is some variation that some bamboo species after they have flowered they die while others do subsist. Bamboo plant is of three main types namely Clumpers and Runners (Coggins, 2000).
Clumpers also referred to as sympodial bamboo. They expand like other perennial plant however, they have limited root structure and therefore they are not able to creep for more than few inches in a year. Every year they expand and only grow to mature not until they are allowed to reach their desired circumference. Bamboo plants in this category are tropical plants; however there are some like Fargensia genus that are able to survive in cold zones. Runners or monopodial type of bamboos spread through underground rhizomes and can cover considerable distances.
Because this type pf bamboo form network like rhizomes, it is not possible to kill it off. For those who grow runner variety particularly in their home due to it invasiness they consider it to be a weed. Because runner spread underground so fast it requires root barriers installation to stop it growing towards unwanted regions. This is possible because runners rhizomes grows only to a depth of two to eighteen inches which can be contained with two to two and a half plastic edging that is buried around the plant’s circumference.
It rhizomes grows about five feet or more in a year while its groves can double in size every year. It has been observed that most of temperate bamboos are runners and are used to period of cold weather. The best planting season of bamboo is during spring time. Depending on the soil tests it may be necessary to apply lime and fertilize. Incorporation of six inches of soil amendments or compost into the soil surface and depth of twelve inches will yield best results. Bamboo plants thieve well in soil with pH of 6 to 6. 5. Despite the fact that many of bamboo varieties are drought resistant, it is necessary to water the plant.
Watering the plant for about one to two times a week depending on the soil type is important. Especially for the first three to six months until they are fully established. However, too much water may encourage rotting of the rhizomes. Applying a two inch depth of mulching can really help to keep it moist. Strictly speaking, bamboo plant requires about one inch of water every seven to ten days depending on the conditions. In dry season its leaves edge roll up which is an indication that it needs to be watered (Ibid). When planting bamboo, rootball vegetative is the best to go for.
There are several ways to propagate bamboo plant but the techniques do vary with the two types of this plant. For instance, propagating Clumping type of bamboo is much easier and less time consuming than the Runner type. Seeding is the easiest and most prolific way to obtain new plants. But they are not readily available. Even though bamboo plant may flower gregariously only few seeds are viable. If one is luck to get such seeds, their storage life is short and so they need to be sown as soon as possible. The seed are sown in a greenhouse bed and should germinate in about three week’s time.
Another propagating technique is cutting. A half to three quarter diameter culms of Bambusa multiplex which are from two to three years old are used for cutting (Meredith, 2001). These younger culms are normally located on the perimeter of the clumps and prepared from cutting them flat close to the ground level and then removing the top portion down to the desired diameter to be used for propagation. Cane need to be cut one to one and quarter inches from the node. Approximately four to four and a half below the first cut downwards make another cut.
You can repeat the cutting until you reach the maximum diameter for the propagation stock. There can be removal of very small branches and reduce three to five of every largest branches to the second node from the culms. The cuttings are placed flat in the starting medium or set at angle of twenty degrees. In either case the medium should be able to cover the node completely and new growth should appear in about six weeks (Ibid). Trench layering is another propagation technique. About twenty lower nodes from one to two years, strong culms that are located at the outer edge of the grove are used.
First, all the small branches are removed and shortened three to five of the main branches to the second node. Then the culms are cut through about two thirds of its diameter slightly above the soil line. A trench of about six inches deep is dug, placing the lower twenty nodes of the stripped canes into the trench and cover them with soil. In a period of three months, shoots should appear at each node of its diameter. The preferred period to do this is late March to early June. Lastly, dividing is another propagating technique. This is done to bamboo plant which has been put in the pots.
This is done by removing the plant from the pot and examining to decide where to cut the rhizomes so that they can be least damaged. This may even necessitate to wash the rhizomes to enable do this. By use of stiff spade or saw make the cut and then repot the plant. If plant is heavily bound you can make many sections. Where the rootball is open, hand clippers is used and cut aiming where the neck of the younger rhizome joins with the mother rhizome. Where multiple plants are needed it is crucial to ensure that they are shaded and moist and pot them as soon as possible and water adequately.
The propagation of running bamboo involves rhizome cuttings. In the outer perimeter of the glove, selection of plant is made. Soil is loosened all around the plant to determine which direction the rhizome is growing. When this assessment is completed, rhizome is carefully uncovered taking a lot of care not to damage the viable buds. Old material of two to three years old gives the best results. Cut the rhizome with care to leave sufficient amount intact to support the mother plant is paramount, starting with the end and lifting from under and along the sides. The material cut should be kept moist and out of the wind and sun.