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Growing Giant Leaf Bamboo as part of your permaculture food forest, bamboo garden, or landscape can help support and increase food production and provide protection for both, plants and poultry. I’ve already seen my Indian Runner Ducks napping beneath the sheltering leaves of this beautiful bamboo plant which blocks them from the sight of any hawks flying overhead.
Topping out at a height of 9 feet, it can make an excellent green screen to give your garden a walled feeling like in a rose garden maze straight out of something you’d see in Alice In Wonderland.
Placing and Planting Your Giant Leaf Bamboo
It is important to carefully consider where you want to plant your Indocalamus Tessellatus before adding it to your edible landscape or garden. As the Giant Leaf Bamboo is a running bamboo, it is a good idea to grow it someplace away from houses or other buildings, where its spread can either be controlled, or left to its own devices, depending on the amount of space it has.
Giant Leaf Bamboo is incredibly shade tolerant and will do well as an underplanting beneath trees or other taller-growing plants, though when given plenty of sunlight, will grow tall on its own. This growth can be controlled by pruning the Giant Leaf Bamboo like a hedge or bush, but one should also keep in mind that once bamboo culms are cut, the culms will not grow any taller from that cut, although the plant will continue to send off new shoots from its root system during its shooting season.
Watering Your Giant Leaf Bamboo
The Indocalamus Tessellatus known as the Giant Leaf Bamboo will benefit greatly from being watered regularly as it is getting established. This will not only prevent it from drying out before it can put down good roots, but will help soften hard clay soils if it is being planted in a compacted clay. Softening the clay will help smooth the way for the bamboo to put down roots deeper and more quickly as clay is much more difficult for the rhizomes of the Indocalamus Tessellatus to slide through.
You can further increase the speed with which the giant leaf bamboo gets established by adding some compost or worm castings to the soil. Well I don’t recommend tilling the soil as I can sit back your companion plants that may already have been established near your giant leaf bamboo, telling the soil can also help to thoroughly mix in whatever organic materials you are using to improve the soil, increase drainage, and provide more soil nutrition to your bamboo plant.
Though this bamboo plant has a very thick and sturdy rhizome, amending a heavily compacting soil will help to give you the big, luscious leaves the Giant Leaf Bamboo is known for more quickly.
You can help your bamboo plant to self-water by planting it near a lake or pond where the rhizomes of the bamboo will naturally seek out a source of water.
Fertilizing the Giant Leaf Bamboo
If starting your Giant Leaf Bamboo from a root separation, it will be especially important to provide plenty of nutrition so as to help your little plant to quickly grow enough new roots to survive being separated from the mother plant. This can be done by adding worm castings to your planting area whether you top dress your bamboo or add the worm castings directly to the planting hole. Other options for fertilizing your Giant Leaf Bamboo include compost, coffee grounds, and fish water, if you want to keep things organic.
As I’ve planted one of my Giant Leaf Bamboo plants next to the duck and fish pond in my edible landscape, I use the duck/fish pond water to keep the Indocalamus Tessellatus well-fertilized and well-watered. There is another small piece of Giant Leaf Bamboo currently taking root in the floor of my food forest birds’ duck house. Read more about adding plants to your duck house here.
Providing your Giant Leaf Bamboo with plenty of nutrition will allow the root system to get established more quickly and increase the growth rate of your bamboo plant. Although your bamboo plant will still only send up new shoots during its shooting season, the more roots and rhizomes your bamboo plant can grow during its season of rest, the more new shoots it’ll be able to produce during the shooting season.
In order to create a self-fertilizing bamboo plant, you can also grow it next to a fish or duck pond and allow the roots of your plant to grow into the pond. This will not only help to stabilize the pond’s edge, but will allow your bamboo plant around the clock access to a buffet of organic duck and fish waste.
Cold Hardiness of the Indocalamus Tessellatus
Thus far, in grow zone 7, it has snowed twice this winter and the newly planted Giant Leaf Bamboo seems quite indifferent to the coat of snow. Its culms have popped back up after the snow has melted and it has remained completely evergreen with no leaf damage. This applies to both the plant growing beside the duck pond and the plant growing in the floor of the duck house. Also, during a ice storm, the giant leg bamboo completely froze over and has now thawed without any leaf drop and is as green as it ever was.
It is important to note that the duck pond is providing a warmer and less fluctuating microclimate for the Giant Leaf Bamboo, which is something to keep in mind if you are looking to try zone pushing your Giant Leaf Bamboo in a colder climate.
Though this did not prevent the bamboo plant from freezing over during an ice storm, it does seem to have helped it thaw out a lot faster than plants they were growing further away from the duck pond. Many of the plants around the pond also took longer to freeze as one of the benefits of having a pond in your food garden or edible landscape is that it keeps your landscape warmer for a longer period of time.
Using Indocalamus Tessellatus To Zone Push More Tender Perennials
As this is a bamboo plant that is very hardy, produces large leaves, and stays evergreen within its cold hardiness zone, it becomes a wonderful choice to create a short canopy over top of less cold hardy plants like gardenias, sweet potatoes, camellias, and perennial spinaches. This can help ensure that plants that would otherwise perish in the cold winters are able to withstand weather they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to survive outdoors in.