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Gracilis Bamboo - Clumping Bamboo Planting Guide

Slender Weavers (Bambusa Textilis Var. Gracilis) can grow to 6-7m depending on growing conditions.  If Gracilis is planted at 1m or less intervals, it can make a dense, lush hedge.  


In ideal conditions, it can grow to a height of near 6m in just 18-24 months.  


Slender Weavers are ideal for narrow areas as their habit is vertical, and can be planted in as little as a 50cm garden bed or in large pots or troughs.


Gracilis has a shallow root system: 30-50cm.  It is a clumping, non-invasive bamboo and will not spread wildly like the running bamboo varieties.


It is small at its base relative to its height compared to other bamboo varieties.  When mature, a plant can measure up to 1.5m diameter at the base.


Gracilis likes full sun or part shade. 


The main growing period is October to April.  During winter plants are essentially dormant, however, due to Sydney's temperate climate planting can be done at anytime of the year.  Throughout the year, it is normal for some leaves to turn yellow and fall off.  Use these as mulch.

Soil Preparation

Slender Weavers are best planted in rich well-drained soil.  If the soil is very sandy add compost and cow manure, or a clay breaker (eg, dolomite or gypsum) if you have heavy clay.


Clear all grass from the planting area.


Dig a hole twice the size of the pot, so for a 30cm size pot, dig a hole 60cm in diameter and 40 cm deep for larger pots or 1.5 times the height of smaller pot.  As most soils will dry out (eg, over summer), consider adding some water-saver crystals in the planting hole.  If planting as a hedge, you may want to dig a trench to encourage the bamboo to spread between plants.


Fill the hole with water and wait until it has fully soaked into the soil before planting.

Planting the Clumping Bamboo

With large plants, the roots may have filled the pot.  You can help reduce transplant shock, remove the bamboo from the pot and soak the root ball in a 30L plastic tub in a solution of ‘Seasol’ (10 capfuls of Seasol to 30L of water), until the bubbles stop rising to surface. 


Place the plant in the dug hole with the soil from the pot level with the ground. 


Backfill and water in well.  Supplement with a handful of ‘Dynamic Lifter’ in and around each bamboo plant.  Simply apply evenly across your planting bed on top of the soil.


Bamboo can be planted at any time of the year but during winter growth is much slower, and it will take longer for new plants to establish. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and a full height privacy screen of 6-7 meters can be achieved in just 18-24 months, depending on growing conditions such as space of the planting bed, availability of sun, water and nutrients.

Poolside Gracilis Bamboo Privacy Screen
Poolside Gracilis Bamboo Privacy Screen

Root Barrier for Clumping Bamboo

A root barrier is recommended when planting Gracilis Bamboo (Slender Weavers) as the clump grows in a circle shape and can fill out to a diameter of 1.5-2 meters and the odd shoot could potentially go under the fence. It's recommended that a root barrier is dug in along the fence line at least 30-40cm deep to prevent this. A tough HDPE plastic root barrier is a good solution and can also be shaped in a circle formation, joined by nuts and bolts or in a semi circle formation.

Mulch the Planting Bed

Add 40-50mm of mulch such as straw or sugarcane and water well again.  Mulch reduces evaporation, keeps soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter.  It also increases worm activity, improving your soil condition.

Watering is Critical to Establish Clumping Bamboo

It is most important to water the bamboo deeply and regularly for the first 12 months to establish the amazing growth that this bamboo can achieve.  Water along the entire garden bed ensuring the water penetrates below the mulch and well into the root zone. Water daily for the first 3-4 weeks.   If keeping your bamboo in pots, it will usually need daily deep watering, sometimes twice daily when weather is dry and hot but less in winter. When bamboo leaves curl up, it is an indication that they are in need of a watering.

After the first 12 months, if your bamboo is planted directly in the ground, you may water just in dry periods as Gracilis Bamboo is a hardy variety.

Top 6 Things to Watch When Planting a Gracilis Clumping Bamboo

  • Top of soil looks wet but water has not penetrated down to soak entire root ball, this is a sign that the soil is clayey and not free draining and could dry out the bamboo.

  • Ground is sloping and water runs off rather than penetrates deeply enough.

  • Bamboo in pots/troughs need extra care with watering.  Even when it is raining, the soil in the pot may not receive sufficient water. Also, ensure there is good drainage and extra holes may need to be drilled so to prevent flooding of the pot/trough.

  • If lots of leaves are turning yellow, it is likely to be due to lack of water and nutrients. Excess leaves can also turn yellow and fall due to lack of light eg, heavy shade.

  • If you need to keep your bamboo in the original pots they were delivered in for a while before planting, have a tray under the pot to catch water run-off and water twice daily. Make sure the bamboo is upright and tied to a structure to prevent it falling over in the wind.

Leaf curl is normally a sign of insufficient water or stress, when deeply watered, the leaves should open up again but if left too long, it's possible the bamboo could dry out completely.

Planting Gracilis Bamboo in Pots and Troughs

If you plant in pots or troughs, your bamboo will need extra care.  Use a premium quality potting mix and feed with a slow-release fertiliser for pots with trace elements.  Also consider using water crystals during very dry periods.  Remember: adequate watering will be the main factor for success.  A watering system with timer can make the job easier but check that the plants are receiving sufficient water.  Eventually the clump may outgrow the container.  Use large pots/troughs where possible as plants may not thrive in small containers.

Generally speaking, the smaller the planter, the smaller the bamboo will grow. It is possible that the pressure from the rhizomes could break a weak planter but eventually it may need repotting due to becoming pot bound and if it breaks it's probably making your life easier to repot the bamboo. When repotting, a handy tool is a reciprocating saw with a long pruning blade as it will help you split the bamboo into sections that are suitable to repot.

Although it's very important to keep the bamboo watered regularly, be mindful that it's also possible to flood the planter if it's over watered and there aren't enough drainage holes and the planter is not lifted off the floor. Extra drainage holes may need to be drilled and water proof the planter, wrap drainage cells cut to size with a geo textile cloth and place over the holes. Adding a layer of gravel and washed river sand on top of the gravel is also a good idea. Make sure the planter is raised off the ground to allow for drainage.


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