Bamboo plants are used widely as an ornamental garden plant in Japanese Style Gardens.
Also used as a screening plant, they are versatile and come in both small growing or dwarf varieties as well as very tall types.
Bamboo plants are well suited to grow in pots or containers and come as clumping, and running varieties.
For nearly all garden situations the clumping types are best suited as running types can become invasive. With all types it is best to install a root barrier to prevent problems. Clumping Bamboo Plants are the most popular in a garden situation.
Bamboo plants are also widely used in modern or contemporary landscape design. With culms that can contrast in colour against a wall the plants can become a feature in themselves.
Varieties differ in colour, which ranges from green through to blue and almost black, as well as growth habit, some with a weeping habit, others very upright. some have large diameter culms others are slender.
In general bamboo is a low maintenance plant when grown outdoors. Once acclimatised they will grow well right through to zones 5 and 6.
One major factor is soil and drainage does like a free draining soil.
When planting out you may be planting the rhizomes or ‘starts’ or advanced plants with all types consider :
- Installing a root barrier even around clumping types
- Water well through the first summer
- If planting bamboo as a screen, plant rhizomes at around 3 ft apart.
- Taller plants will need to be staked until the root system is developed.
- With all types, root prune annually to control clump size and spread.
- It is easier to use a specialist root cutting spade.
When growing in containers
- Water regularly, 2 – 3 time a week from spring to early fall
- Apply a high nitrogen fertilizer in spring
- Re-pot every 5 years
- Protect the container from winter freezes in colder zones. Either use a container with ‘inbuilt’ insulation, or wrap with an insulating material in late fall.
- You can thin clumps every year if you wish.
- Old and dead canes can be pruned at any time
- You can prune the tops of bamboo to reduce the height.
Cold Hardy Bamboos
A number of cold tolerant bamboo varieties are available, some that will grow down to USDA Zones 5 – 6. The Fargesia and Phyllostachys are worth looking for in these areas.
In very cold winters the culms will be damaged and will need to be cut right back, however the root system of cold hady types means they will come back in spring.
Growing Bamboo Indoors
Although it is not easy, some types of bamboo can be grown indoors. You will see reasonably large varieties used in shopping malls and similar spaces.
Some varieties are better than others and those that can grow well in low light are the best. One of the issues is the low humidity that bamboo faces indoors. The ideal situation is to choose smaller growing types that can be moved outdoors every 4 months.
Varieties that do the best will be those that can tolerate dry conditions, low light and warmth. To help them along try to:
- Water regularly, allowing to dry between waterings.
- Provide as much light as possible.
- Try to increase humidity.
Humidity can be increased by sitting the container on a plant saucer filled with pebbles and water. This increases the humidity without letting the roots become water logged. The container you are growing the bamboo in should not sit in the water.
Keep bamboo dry over winter months. Simply cut back on watering, allow to ‘almost’ dry out, before watering.
Do not fertilize during winter, it is best to fertilize in spring.
Although their are many species of bamboo available it is best to commence by dividing them into two varieties
- Clumping Bamboo
The most widely grown types as they tend to stay where they are put. They will form a clump as the name suggests, however they do not run underground as the vigorous running types do.
- Running Bamboo
Although these types can be a problem in that they can spread to the extent of being invasive, they can be planted if the proper care is used. An effective and properly installed and maintained root or rhizome barrier is essential to prevent these types from escaping into the garden. You can also consider growing these types in containers.
Propagation is easy by division of the rhizomes, best time to divide is in early spring after last frosts.
Bamboo plants are available for sale at the following nurseries
TROPICAL BAMBOO NURSERY & GARDENS phone 561-784-24132929 G Road East Loxahatchee, FL firstname.lastname@example.org Bamboo garden and nursery – more than 150 different varieties of bamboo plants. Mail order and local sales.
BEACH BAMBOO.net TROPICAL BAMBOO ONLINE phone: 562-699-1429 339 SE 3rd Ave. Delray Beach Florida 33483 We are a tropical bamboo nursery offering online sales of tropical bamboo and unusual exotics.www.beachbamboo.net