As I compose this I’m staring at bamboo shoots growing and apparently prospering in a glass vase with nothing in it but water. There’s plenty of the most important atoms available, Hydrogen from the water, Carbon and (depending on the plant?) Nitrogen from the atmosphere. I’m not a botanist; please don’t use my musings here on your biology pop-quiz tomorrow.

But what about the other trace elements that living things need? Is bamboo so well-adapted to mineral-starverd environments that it hardly needs any of these other elements? Does that in turn make it a lousy food? Would the plant die in distilled water? So many questions…

4 thoughts on “Bamboo

  1. I think many plants do just fine hydroponically, taking everything they need from the air. I have mint that will do that, and there’s a whole class of mosses, vines, etc. that live on other plants without actually drawing nutrition from them (epiphytes, I believe).

  2. I have a hosta that does nicely in just water, although it did better before the betta that lived among its roots died. I never had to feed the plant, and I seldom had to feed the fish either. But the fish couldn’t take it when we turned the thermostat down.

    I still don’t feed the plant, but sometimes the water gets rather icky looking.

    The fish-plant combination, by the way, was called “War and Peace.” Since the betta is also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, I’m assuming the hosta has some sort of connotation of peacefulness. I’ve been meaning to look it up, but I haven’t gotten around to it.

  3. Distilled water would kill the bamboo.

    I’ll stop there. I had a growing pile of books on the table, and was starting to type Latin names, when I realized I was being a big fat plant geek.

    Okay, I can’t stop myself. If what you have is a “lucky bamboo,” don’t try to feed it to a panda — it’s not a true bamboo, it’s a Dracaena. (Thank god I’ve saved all the pandas you must encounter in Prague from *that* annoyance.) Change the water every two weeks. Water from a filtered aquarium is recommended, in case you know any avid aquariumists. If you’re using chlorinated tap water, let it stand for a day before using it.

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