Browse useful guides and information regarding bamboo cultivation.
- The total width for sustainable management of a spreading bamboo screen is 5 feet.
- The minimum width of the bamboo screen is 3 feet.
- Sand traps make removal of rhizomes easy. Dig traps 1 foot wide x 1 foot deep.
- Rhizomes spread through mulch and top soil, never deep, especially in clay.
- Remove rhizomes three times through the growing season.
- Mulch 4 inches over the soil. Fertilize annually (turf fertilizer).
- Use only HDPE barrier to deflect rhizomes. Never leave rhizomes against the barrier, as it will break.
Designing Gardens with Bamboo
- In this partial design the bamboo screen of Phyllostachys on the left extends into the garden, creating curved beds and "rooms".
- Paths meander through tall spreading bamboo groves which provide shade for woodland understorey plants and clumping bamboos. Contained by this covering, the air is scented by fragrant shrubs.
- The room made by the beds of spreading bamboos provides a microclimate for banana (Musa basjoo) or a palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), which bask in full sun and thrive out of the wind. The banana and palm's bold foliage offers a tropical flavour and contrasts with the petite foliage of the bamboo.
- Instead of a conventional lawn, consider using a dwarf spreader (such as Pleioblastus pygmaeus).
- The lower room offers a secluded area for a bench.
- The lower stand of tall bamboo is thinned out enough to see through from the house, inviting you into the garden.
- This design is managed with a barrier around the perimeter of the property and rhizome traps, which prevent spreaders from travelling across paths and infultrating other groves, shrubberies, or the lawn.
Why Grow Clumping Bamboos?
- Clumping bamboos are non-spreading, with predictable growth requiring no control.
- Clumping bamboos can tolerate limited summer irrigation.
- Clumping bamboos can be grown beneath "Douglas Firs" successfully, without harming the tree.
- Clumping bamboos form softly textured hedges as low as 4 to 8 feet (Fargesia murieliae 'Bimbo' to Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa' respectively), and screens as tall as 12 to 20 feet (Fargesia denudata to Borinda boliana).
- Clumping bamboos can tolerate full sun (Fargesia sp. 'Jiuzhaigou'), through medium shade with no afternoon sun (Yushania brevipaniculata 'Wolong'), to full shade that never receives direct light (Fargesia robusta 'Wolong').
- Clumping bamboos can be incredibly cold hardy down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (Fargesia nitida and F. murieliae).
- Subtropical clumping bamboos should be avoided (all Bambusa species). Summers can be too cool and short for these species, preventing shoots from emerging before the onset of winter.
- Foliage can be up to six inches long (Borinda papyrifera), down to less than an inch (Thamnocalamus crassinodus).
- Foliage ranges in colour from deep, shiny olive green (Fargesia robusta 'Campbell') through pastel blue (Fargesia yulongshanensis 'Robert Linder'), and can be varigated with soft white (Fargesia apircirubens 'White Dragon') or suffused with yellow (Borinda fungosa 'White Cloud').
- Foliage flutters with the slightest breeze (as with the long, narrow foliage of Borinda nujiangensis).
- Clumping bamboos offer soft delicate foliage, contrasting with the solid robust foliage of the Rhododendron species.
Culms (Living canes)
- Culms range from willowy thin in thickness (Fargesia murieliae 'Humboldt') to over an inch in diameter (Borinda lushuiensis).
- Culms change color as they mature over several years, such as from powder blue, through pastel yellow, to deep orange (Borinda albocerea).
- Culms sometimes appear in brilliant reds through to purplish black in strong light (Borinda fungosa, or Fargesia sp. 'Jiuzhaigou 4').
- Culms can be densely packed (Borinda angustissima) or widely spaced (Yushania species, or Chusquea gigantea).
- If the culms are thin they often cannot support the weight of their prolific foliage and will arch over, especially in the rain. This creates their characteristic umbrella shaped canopy. Rarely, the culms will remain upright (Fargesia denudata 'Xian 1').
- Clumping bamboo can successfully cohabit with all herbaceous plants, bulbs, ferns and shrubs.
- Clumping bamboo is most successful when planted as specimens amongst drifts of, or emerging from...
- ...finely textured ferns (Woodwardia orientalis and Polystichium species).
- ...soft textured waves of grasses (Carex comans 'Bronze form', C. morrowii c.v.s., or Hakenchloa macra 'Aureola').
- ...bold leaved herbaceous plants (Asarum splendens, Brunnera macrophylla, Hosta sieboldiana, Helleborus orientalis c.v.s., or Pulmonaria species).
- ...shrubs offering scent and foliage contrast (Acer circinatum, Daphne odora, Hydrangea species, Mahonia species, Rhododendron species, Ruscus species, Schefflera delavayi, or Viburnum species).
- Incidental use of bulbs would include Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Erythronium species, Galanthus species, dwarf Narcissus, or Trillium species).