Before you begin, make sure you have the following tools close at hand: a sharp spade or shovel, hand pruners, a sharp hand or reciprocating saw, and wet burlap in which to wrap the root balls or nursery pots in which to replant the divisions. Remember, the best time to divide clumping bamboo, such as the Fargesia ‘Rufa’ shown here, is early spring (March to May, depending on location), before the bamboo shoots.
1. Water the plant heavily at least 24 hours prior to dividing. This helps to ensure healthy transplants and facilitates the division process.
2. Dig a circle around the base of the plant, at least 12 inches from the base of any cane. Once the circle is complete, start again, angling the shovel toward the base of the plant in a V shape. Once you are able to get underneath the root ball, lift the clump of bamboo.
3. Use a sharp spade or saw to cut through the center of the root mass. You can then divide the plant into four to eight pieces, depending on the clump size, with hand pruners.
4. Cut any canes adjacent to the outside of the root mass down to soil level Remember, all of the canes are interconnected; to ensure a good transplant you must have a balance of root and foliage mass.
5. Wrap the root balls in wet burlap, or immediately transplant them into the ground or containers. Water transplants thoroughly. It is important to keep these new plants moist and somewhat protected from extreme wind and sun.
6. Once the new transplants have stabilized (in 4 to 6 weeks), feed them with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (such as grass fertilizer) to promote new growth.