The following are general questions from our customers regarding bamboo cultivation. We try to provide thorough and accurate answers to any bamboo related inquiries. Take a few minutes to read through some of the correspondences listed below, covering a wide range of bamboo related topics. You may find just the answer you are looking for. Each letter begins with a Subject: ... for your reference. Customer questions are standard font and our responses are in bold. Feel free to email us your own inquiries as well.
Call us at 503-647-2700
email bamboo AT bamboogarden.com
FAQs about placing an order
FAQs General Bamboo Care
Subject: Cold Hardy Bamboo
Good afternoon from New York City.
I am interested in planting a tall bamboo privacy screen/hedge at our home
in Morristown, NJ (Zone 6-7). It would be located along our property line,
half of which is rather wet for approximately 10 feet at the northern end.
It is on the western side of our property, shaded/dapple shaded most of the
day, with a little sun in late afternoon as the sun moves west. The length
of the hedge will be probably at least 20 feet, again, again, with half of
the area rather wet and the other half slightly higher and drier.
I am interested in fast growing bamboo, with complete height at 12-18 feet
high. As the area on our side of the property line is woodland...I think
that clumping bamboo would work as long as we could make sure it does not
cross the property line as our neighbors will most likely freak.
Alternatively I could go with non-clumping bamboo that requires professional
planting to keep it from spreading into our neighbors yard (i.e., something
that would form a straight line along the property line, ideally a screen
that is at least 1.5 - 2 feet deep.
Anyway, I'm leaning towards Fargesia murielae and/or fargesia dracocephala.
Are there any others in particular that you would suggest for your
woods/property line. Again, our property where the bamboo will go is
woodland, wet in areas, dappled sun late in the day.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions....I want to decide on this and place
an order with your company and get the plants headed to the east coast! Or
if you have any nursery's you deal with here in New Jersey where I could
purchase your plants and hire someone that knows how to plant them so they
do not invade the neighbors perfect lawn that would be great as well!
As long as the bamboo wouldn't be in standing water any of the cold hardy
Fargesias would do very well in that setting as they prefer shade/filtered
F. murielae and F. dracocephala are great choices for a hedge with an
elegant weeping effect. If you like a more upright look then something like
Fargesia robusta "Green Screen" would also be ideal.
would also be ideal.
Clumping bamboo is not invasive and will maintain a tight cluster of canes
that will spread only a few inches per year rather than the 3 - 5ft that
running bamboo spreads per year. This makes maintenance a lot easier and
there is little risk of it spreading into your neighbor's yard.
We generally recommend planting 3 - 5ft apart so for a screen of around 20ft
7 1-gallon plants would be sufficient. You can take advantage of our shipping discount with a package of 10 plants and plant them a couple of feet apart giving you a fuller look, in a shorter amount of time.
Please contact us if you would like any more information.
Yanick @ Bamboo Garden
Subject: Hardy bamboo questions + containment
I live on Long Island, NY (11768, zone 7) and would like to incorporate bamboo into our landscape. I like the look of the larger culms, but it appears those are mostly running varieties of bamboo. Is the 60ml border adequate to really contain even these very large varieties?
Also, can a couple or few varieties of bamboo co-mingle in a grove? I am thinking to install a grove in a lower corner of my yard that would serve (partly) as privacy screen from the yard on the opposite hill, so I am thinking of a taller variety. I would like something that adds a sense of ~serenity (Zen) as well.
I like the black culms as well as green (and red, etc). I was wondering if I could mix, perhaps, Phyllostachys bambusoides or Phyllostachys edulis with Phyllostachys dulcis and Phyllostachys nigra or some such arrangement to achieve a mixture of stately large-culmed plants, with some other attractive smaller-culmed plants and a variety of colors ranging from a rich green to red to jet black.
Are these varieties evergreen (here in zone 7). What varieties are evergreen in zone 7?
I would appreciate any guidance and suggestions you can give me? Please also let me know if you have these varieties available and what shipping charges would be.
The bamboo control barrier will, in time, need to be replaced, it is not guaranteed to prevent rhizome spread 100% and should be utilized in conjunction with routine rhizome pruning and maintenance.
As far as mixing different species, it is not really recommended because different species have different growth rates and one species might crowd out a slower growing species. For example, P. dulcis is an aggressive grower and P. edulis and P. bambusoides take a little longer to get established in zone 7 climates so if you were to plant them together it is likely that the dulcis would take over and crowd out the others. You could plant the same species with different cultivars and intermingle them, for example, P. bambusoides 'All Gold' mixed with P. bambusoides 'Castillon Inversa'.
All bamboos are evergreen and while they may shed some leaves during the year it is not a significant amount. That's the wonderful thing about bamboo, when everything has died back during the winter it remains vibrant and green.
Please refer to our shipping prices here as costs vary according to size and quantity ordered http://www.bamboogarden.com/Shipping%20cost.htm
If you have further queries or would like to place an order please contact us.
Subject: Winter preparation
Hello, I received and planted 29 bamboo plants from you in May....almost all seem to be doing well! I was just wondering what hints you have for winter, I am planning on mulching them but would like to know how heavy......I am in Asheville, NC in the mountains, zone 6. Also, how about water in the cooler weather? Thanks, Dottie
Glad to hear most of your bamboo is doing well. You should provide a thick, 4-6 inch layer of mulch, compost or fine bark. Manure and tree chips work also. You will need to water less during the winter, if at all, as you probably will get plenty of rain. Also the bamboo is mostly dormant in the winter and needs less water.
In extreme cases, cold, dry wind can ravage the foliage but the rhizomes and roots will survive and resprout in the spring if well mulched. During severe weather, you can cover the foliage of your young bamboo with burlap, shade cloth, or an anti-desiccant product. If they are buried in snow, it will actually benefit the bamboo during extreme cold because the snow provides a layer of insulation and block the wind.
Subject: Winter hardiness
I have been checking out your web site. I love all of your timber bamboos.
I am doing research for my future bamboo groves and I have two
questions for you.
what is your lowest temperature in your area? And what is your growing
I am trying to draw a reference line some how because each bamboo
nursery displays different
information about cold hardy bamboos.
I am from zone 6 and if you are from same zone, I would be able to
have the timber bamboos you have displayed on your website?
Thank you for your help in advance.
We are in USDA zone 8, and our low temperatures are in the 20s, but usually
we see temperatures around the 30s in the winter. One of the reasons you
find different information from different nurseries is that bamboo does not
grow in the same way across varied climates. Things like the amount of
rainfall, what time of year it falls, the duration of cold weather (as well
as the absolute lowest temperature), and humidity can affect bamboo's
growth, and these factors are rarely equal across the same climate zones in
different parts of the country. We can tell you which bamboos will survive
in your climate, but the best way to get an idea of what they will look
like, or how much pampering they will need to attain large sizes, is to look
at bamboo growing near you.
The other thing to know about growing timber bamboos in cold climates is
that many will survive, but few will grow big. In extreme winters, the canes
may die partially or to the ground, and the bamboo will survive and send up
new--but smaller--shoots in the spring. The cold hardiness ratings we list
on our website represent the lowest temps the bamboo can survive for short
periods of time, with few exacerbating factors like wind, and sustain little
or no vegetative damage. The plants are generally root hardy to a lower
temperature, but again, your plants will need heavy mulching and care
(especially when young) to get big. We recommend Needmore Bamboo's website
www.needmorebamboo.com for information about growing bamboo in
the cold. They are located in Nashville, Indiana, and are also in zone 6.
For a list of cold hardy runners, take a look at our rating page, which
lists plants in order of hardiness: http://www.bamboogarden.com/cold%20hardy%20bamboo.html
Ph. aureosulcata, while not one of the largest bamboos, is so vigorous that it may grow better for you than
a plant with a larger potential size.
Subject: Winter and Bamboo
I would like to know what happens to timber bamboo in the winter. Will
it loose all of its leaves and should I fertilize in the winter, if so
what kind to use?
Generally timber bamboos do not lose their leaves in the winter.
However, if temperature drop well below 0 F for an extended time, bamboo can loose a significant amount of foliage.
It is variable for different species. What kind of bamboo do you have and where do you live? There is no reason to fertilize in the
winter as bamboo is dormant. For the best growth, spread 4-6 inches of well composted manure
around the bamboo, particularly on the southern side as this is the
direction the bamboo wants to travel and grow the largest.
Subject: Cold Hardy Clumping Bamboo
I live in Maryland (near Baltimore), and am interested
in creating a visual barrier between my neighbor and
I. Would clumping bamboo be a good choice? Will it not
spread? Will it grow fast? Would variety would you
recommend for fast growing and good blockage?
I don't know much about the climate around Baltimore; the limiting factor
for most clumpers is heat and humidity (too much is bad), but most clumpers
do fine in DC so they should be OK for you too (although most of them will
need afternoon shade). Clumpers spread outwards a few inches a year, while
runners send out rhizomes (underground stems) that can run many feet away
from the existing canes in a year. Both plants grow fast in the sense that
lots of new canes come up each spring. For good blockage, see Thamnocalamus
tessellatus, Fargesia robusta, and Fargesia sp. 'Rufa.' You can find
pictures and descriptions of these plants under "Cold Hardy Clumping Bamboo"
on our website. http://www.bamboogarden.com/cold%20hardy%20bamboo.html
Subject: Cold Hardy Bamboo, growth habits
I live in Central New Jersey. I believe that’s zone 6.
I would like to create a privacy fence between my neighbors and me.
While I need to fence a 40 feet area, for financial reasons I can only fence about 20 ft at this point. I have some questions I would like to kind ask you before ordering the plants. By the way, I need Bamboo that spread by clumps, not runners.
I like Semiarundinaria fastuosa because the burgundy color and upright growth habit, but I’m opened to other possibilities. I would like it to be visually attractive (colorful or exotic looking –tropical would be good), if possible.
How many plants would I need to cover an area of 20 feet long?
When should I plant them?
How far apart should I plant them in order to shield the neighbor ASAP or, at least, by this summer?
How long will it take to visually shield the background?
How fast do they grow vertically and in density? How far away from the fence should I plant them to avoid having leaves on the neighbor’s backyard? What special treatment I need to give them after I plant them?
Would you recommend Semiarundinaria fastuosa?
If so, how long it takes for the culms to turn burgundy?
I appreciate your time and effort in answering these questions for me.
Thank you very much in advance.
It is much more cost- and time-effective to make a screen with running bamboo. Runners will fill in the space between the plantings quickly and evenly, while clumpers spread outward a few inches a year on a circular base. Clumpers are wider at the top than at the bottom, so the foliage will blend together at eye level faster than the base of the clumps will grow together, but it is still a longer process than with runners, and you'll be able to distinguish between the different plants in a clumping screen. Runners will run together, and after three or four years you won't be able to tell where you planted.
Another important consideration is the sun exposure. The clumpers that you can grow in zone 6 prefer at least afternoon shade, and most will get around 12' tall. Runners are mostly full-sun plants, and shade will slow down their growth. Semiarundinaria fastuosa is a running bamboo, as are most of the plants that have interesting canes. Since the cold-hardy clumpers are short and bushy, they have small canes and you need to be up close to appreciate their colors (bluish wax on some of the new canes, or an orange-red sheath around the branches, for instance). Some plants need sun to bring out their color; S. fastuosa canes are usually green, but turn burgundy when exposed to strong sunlight.
To make a screen, plant 1 gallon runners about 3' apart. They should fill in that space in 2-3 years, gaining height all the while--each year, the canes that come up will be larger than last year's canes. Bamboo only grows above ground during a two-month shooting period in the spring, so it takes a few years to produce enough growth to make an effective screen. Bamboo also grows faster once it's established; in accordance with the old dictum "the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps," you might see three shoots the first spring, eight the following, and twenty the third spring. This process is roughly the same between runners and clumpers, but runners will produce large canes anywhere from a few inches to a few feet away from the old canes, while clumpers will put up shoots only a few inches from last year's growth. Don't crowd runners by planting too many together at the beginning. It won't make your bamboo grow large any faster, and it will just cause problems later when there's too much rhizome in too small of an area. Clumpers will eventually get around 5' across at the base, but if you want to plant them more closely, you can.
To keep leaf litter out of your neighbor's yard, keep at least three feet of space between the edge of the bamboo and the fence. Once you put the plants in the ground, you can mulch them with compost, manure, etc. (and make sure to water them well!). The bamboo generally isn't too picky about soils, but it does like lots of water.
Here are a few bamboos hardy for zone 6:
Fargesia murielae (clumper)
F. sp. 'Rufa' (clumper)
Phyllostachys aureosulcata (runner)
P. bissettii (runner)
Hope this helps
Subject: Privacy Screen
We are considering using bamboo for a privacy screen and need some advice. The location of the plantings would be on the north end of our property in an area that receives filtered sunlight, as this area is lightly wooded with alders, and surrounded by tall cedars. The soil drains reasonably well.
Our home is located in Olympia, WA
We are looking for a bamboo that will reach 10 - 25 feet in height, will grow/spread quickly, and do well with only limited sunlight. Any advice you can give on variety and optimum planting time is greatly appreciated. We were impressed with your selection and want to ensure we ordered what would be the best choice for our need and location.
Thanks in advance,
Brian and Yvette
Hello Brian and Yvette,
I would recommend having a look at cold hardy clumping bamboos such as:
These species, as well as being cold hardy, prefer more shade and filtered sunlight as you describe so they will thrive in that location. The only drawback with these are that they will not reach anywhere near the desired height of 25ft (they will get 10 - 15ft maximum), and they are not as vigorous in their growing habits as the running bamboos. They will generally grow 1 - 3ft in height per year and will spread a few inches per year, whereas running bamboos will spread and grow in height around 3 - 5ft per year.
If you prefer bamboos with a greater height then a running bamboo would be more suitable. While they prefer to be situated in full sun, they will certainly adapt to shadier locations but might be slightly slower growing. You could take a look at the following cold hardy Phyllostachys:
Please check this section of our website for suggested methods of controlling the spread of running bamboo
You can plant your bamboo as soon as the soil is workable, these cold hardy varieties will be able to handle any cold snaps we may have but as long as the risk of prolonged freezing weather is over it will be fine to plant.
Please contact us if you require further assistance.
Subject: Clumping Bamboo Screen
I live near Bellingham WA, out in the country, until 2 weeks ago had a nice natural screen between the house next door until the new owners decided they wanted to clean out all the natural brush between us. The area now is baron, and I get a great view of their garage and vehicles. I already have a small area of running bamboos in another area that I love, but I want a clumping variety to grow a natural fence and give my yard some privacy. The area is on the north part of my yard, but there are very tall trees there so only a little dappled shade, roughly 30 feet. What do you suggest? I want to be able to get enough bamboo to screen out the neighbors by the summer. Thanks Susan
How tall do you want the bamboo, and are you interested in a weepy or upright look? Take a look at
http://www.bamboogarden.com/Hardy%20clumping.htm The pictures will link you to more information and photos for each bamboo, and will allow you to get a better sense of which bamboo will give the effect you're after. All the bamboo listed are suitable for Bellingham. Fargesia robusta is a good choice for an upright bamboo. For weepy, look at Fargesia dracocephala; there's a picture of a hedge growing here at the garden. Dappled shade will be great for Fargesia.
Hope this helps, and please respond with any further questions.
I love both types you suggested, the weepy one would give the best and nicest look for the area. The bamboo would have room to grow more than 12 or 15 feet high. How do I order? How far apart do you plant each clump so I can estimate how many to order. Thanks for your quick reply. Can't wait to get started!! Susan
The F. dracocephala, the weepier one, definitely won't reach heights taller than 12 feet. The hedge we have here at Bamboo Garden probably is around 8 feet tall, so if you want something taller you may want to consider one of the other options. For a screen from clumping bamboo we recommend planting the bamboo 3 to 5 feet apart; within a few years the plants should merge together.
The easiest method of ordering is to call us at (503)647-2700 or email us your phone number and we'll call you. You can also email us your order (quantity, size, variety of bamboo and shipping date) and then send along a check when we email you the total.
And in case you're interested: I'm thinking of traveling up to Bellingham later this month, so there's a possibility I could deliver the plants to Bellingham (no charge). If you're interested in avoiding the shipping cost, let me know.
Subject: Clumping Bamboo Growth pattern
I have a couple more questions regarding the Re: B. multiplex Riviereorum: Is it a fast grower? and how soon would you think that I could expect it to be at least 5 to 6 feet tall, approximately? (I'm hoping that it will grow at least 7 maybe 8 feet tall; although a bit taller will be great) and: will it 'clump' or 'thicken' quickly --as to provide more screening? and finally: does it drop its leaves in the fall/winter?
Again, thank you for your patience! I am truly grateful for your advice and prompt replies!!
B. multiplex 'Riviereorum' will probably reach 5' this shooting season (in the spring). It is a fast grower, but the only time you'll see growth above ground will be when the plant is shooting. Each plant will put up a few shoots this year, more next year, and even more the year after that; each spring the shoots will be larger than the previous year's. The plant puts up canes that are very close together which makes it very dense. The clump will spread outward a few inches each year. The plant is evergreen, so it's always shedding some leaves and growing new ones (such that you don't notice). Shorter Clumping Bamboo generally grow 1-3 feet in height each year.
Hi and thank you so much for your correspondence!
Your staff is amazing and informative. One of my final questions is regarding shipping... I believe that I read on your website that you ship plants out of their usual plastic containers... as my planting areas are not quite ready to receive these plants, would they survive a 'waiting period' and if so how long? Should I just wait? (You won't suddenly run out of the B. multiplex 'Rivereorum'? ---just a silly thought)
Thank you again for all your time!!
We're really glad that you found our staff helpful!
We actually ship plants in containers with soil which are then packaged in specially made boxes. There shouldn't be any problems waiting to plant the bamboo out, in fact you could order now and we can ship them at a later date when you are ready for them. We usually advise this to ensure availability but we currently have around 50 of the 1-gallon Bambusa multiplex 'Rivieriorum' in stock so I wouldn't have thought we'd sell out.
subject: Bamboo for warm climates
I live in Southern California and I am thinking of planting bamboo to make
a privacy screen from my neighbors. The location where I would like to
plant bamboo is near a block wall. How will the wall affect the roots or
the growth of the plant?
What is the recommended plant species for my sunny southern California
area and to create a barrier from my nosey neighbors?
Bamboo rhizome (main root) typically grows 6 inches under the soil. The
root is quite hard and can damage concrete, stones, and cause other general
deformations of the surrounding area by taking up space. The rhizome is also
tapered, so it can find its way into small openings or cracks. The feeder
roots of bamboo are not much different from any other grass, and do little
other than absorb water.
Bamboo however, can be maintained next to a stone wall by either
installing Bamboo Control Barrier or by annual root pruning. Our friends at
Shweeash Bamboo have a nice page on how to root prune.
My recommendation is to plant a clumping bamboo. They will be easier to
maintain. Try Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr', Bambusa ventricosa, or
Bambusa multiplex 'Riviereorum' for Southern California.
see this page for our warm climate clumpers:
Subject: Warm Weather bamboo
I have attached a picture of a pool area I am landscaping. As you can
see I want to put bamboo behind the bench in the picture. The fence in
the picture runs north and south.The area to plant in is about 18 inches
wide and 7 feet long. I am in Dallas TX , USDA zone 8. Full sun all day
in this location and we do hit 100 degrees a few days each summer.
Probably looking for something that gets 20 feet tall at the most and
will hang nicely over the bench to give some shade from the afternoon
sun. The area does have irrigation so it can be kept well watered if
needed. I was looking at "Bambusa Multiplex" "Green Hedge" and
"Pleioblastus linearis" on your page. Any reason not to get this kind
for this area? Looking to get this done within the next month. Any
issues with planting then?
Any suggestions would be appreciated. This will be my first time using
bamboo in a landscape. :)
Bambusa Multiplex should do alright in your area If you get an unusually
cold winter it could die to the ground. For a good-sized screen, B.
multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' would be a nice choice. For narrow areas, runners
like pleoblastus linearis work well, as they adapt to the narrow conditions
better. Keep in mind in those kinds of narrow areas, the bamboo will need
to be edged, whatever species you choose, to keep it in the assigned spot.
Edge the running kind right at the boundary of where you want it to stop
growing; edge the clumpers a little farther in. You can also divide the
clumper if it gets too big.
Planting in Texas this time of year should be problem-free. Don't plant the
bamboo any deeper than it is in the pot, and for good growth water regularly
(bamboo likes a little water a lot of the time as opposed to a lot of water
a little of the time). We've found that bamboo likes horse manure-sawdust
mix that you can get at farms, but it also likes slow-release lawn
Subject: bamboo in hot DRY climates
I am trying to discover if there is a bamboo that can take the extremes southwest Oklahoma is known for: hot, dry summers...not TOO cold winters but plenty of sun & windy year round.
We're USDA Zone 7A; about 24 inches of rain annually; lots of +90 degree days; not too many below 20 (not in a row anyway); the wind seems to blow constantly (except in August when a breeze would be appreciated).
River cane does grown here is small pockets.
Which I just found out is actually Arundinaria gigantea.
There doesn't seem to be any bamboo growers withing a couple hundred miles to ask.
Are there species that might survive here?
Here are some species known especially for heat tolerance:
I suspect the plants that are known to tolerate cold can be used as an indicator for overall hardiness and tolerance to adverse conditions, and this might be the basis for the above recommendations. So look here for more ideas: http://www.bamboogarden.com/cold%20hardy%20bamboo.html
disregard the Fargesias as they do not like high heat.
Hot, dry wind will require more water. Improving the soil by adding lots of compost will help this, mulching will also help retain water. Planting a larger size in the spring will give the best chance for the plant to get established. Water regularly, 2-4 times per week, during the summer months. After a couple of years you may be able to decrease the summer water as the bamboo becomes more drought resistant as it gets bigger.
Matt, Bamboo Garden
Subject: Bamboo for wet area
Are there any varieties of bamboo that are happy if their feet get wet. I
have a small stream and would like to plant bamboo along the edge which is
mucky and damp. Chinese lanterns love it. What about bamboo?
There are a few species which have air canals in the rhizomes and roots enabling them to tolerate wetter conditions than most bamboo:
They will not grow in water, but can tolerate soggy soil. Adding an extra toplayer of mulch is recommended.
Please contact us if you need further assistance or would like to place an order.
Subject: wind and salt tolerant bamboo
We are 300 feet from an ocean bluff and get sustained winds off the ocean from the NW of 45 miles an hour for several days at a time. The coldest air temp is 32. We also get SW winds of up to 100 mph.
I am planting Pleioblastus hindsii, P simonii, and Thamnocalamus tessellatus
I know they are good for the salt and temp conditions. But do you think they will survive the wind? I plan to set up guys to main stems or a bamboo pole set at 7 feet off the ground.
Appreciate a quick come back within my message
I don't know for sure, but they are all supposed to good for coastal conditions. Give it a try and let us know.
Using your support system when the plants are young is a good idea.
These bamboos have canes that are strong enough to withstand the wind. But the common problem with wind is when it is cold and dry which can damage the leaves but usually does not kill the entire plant. It sounds as though your conditions are not so cold and dry so these plants should be ok.
Subject: 1st year growth question
I just purchased and planted 2, 1 gal Japanese Timber bamboo a couple of weeks ago and they seem to be doing well. My question is, what should our expectations be this first year before Winter arrives? I guess what I mean is to what height should we expect for them to be considered healthy and make it through the Winter. We just wanted to know what to expect. I couldn't find anything on your website that gave 1st year specs or possibilities.
Thanks for the bamboo and it arrived in very good shape and very moist.
The canes you see growing in the pot now won't get any taller, and should make it through the winter just fine. They make their main flush of new shoots in the spring time. You might get a couple secondary shoots now (August/Sept) ; they'll poke up and reach their full height hopefully before it freezes, and the last step is that the leaves will open up. Once this has happened, your above-ground growth for the year is over; the plant is ready for winter and will be producing more roots underground. Next spring, bigger shoots will come up in May, and the third year is generally when you see the most impressive growth, both in terms of number of shoots and of shoot size. Tall running bamboo increase in height 3-5 feet per year. In other words, if your 2 gallon plant is 3 feet tall now, it should get up to 6-7 feet by mid summer next year and so on.
I read your webpage and I was wondering if pruning the tall (30') bamboo will make it thicker?
Pruning will not make the canes any thicker. When the new shoots emerge in spring they remain the same diameter and when they reach their maximum height in the summer they will not get any taller. Pruning the tops will only increase leaf density to a certain extent.
I hope this information helps and if you have any further queries please contact us.
Subject: Pruning my Bamboo Grove
Hi Bamboo People,
I have a beautiful grove of Phyllostachys vivax 'Aureocaulis' that I bought from you a few years ago. It is flourishing, but I would like to thin out the smaller culms that seem to be losing foliage. Is Spring the right time to go about doing this? Will it damage or decrease the amount of energy my grove has to produce new shoots? Is there a way to selectively cut culms that will benefit the overall health of the grove?
Glad to hear your bamboo is doing well. 'Aureocaulis' is one of our favorites. Pruning can be very beneficial to bamboo groves, as it allows more light into the grove and helps with pest control. You should be careful not to over prune. Bamboo stores starch in the canes. After around the 4th year, the starch-capillaries degrade and less starch is stored over the subsequent years in that cane. However, any cane after the first or second year can lose the vibrancy that was seen in the first year's color. For this reason I like to remove some of the older canes and let the new ones shine. I do this in the summer after the new canes have fully emerged and are beginning to leaf out. This seems to do little to no damage to the rootmass and can be done annually. If you want to remove canes now, I would avoid removing more than 10% of the canes, later in the summer, up to 30% is probably appropriate. Thinning can be done any time of the year and should be done in such a fashion as to open up the middle of the plant by removing older, scarred canes. Older canes are usually smaller in diameter, but can be of differing sizes. Do not remove any of the shoots while they are growing in the spring as you can damage the plant (shoots are the tapered bit that comes out of the ground and does not have branches or foliage. Once they reach their full height, usually in early summer, they open their braches and produce foliage.)
P. vivax, though very large, have weaker culms than most timber bamboo and can be broken under the weight of heavy snow. If the culms are growing densely together, then they will provide some support to each other, resulting in less breakage after heavy snow. We don't get much snow in the PNW so this is usually not an issue. Still, as a precaution, avoid pruning heavily late in the season.
Subject: Controlling Timber Bamboo
I have a fence line along my property that I would like to cover with bamboo. Actually, I want to cover much more than just the fence; I want the bamboo to be over 30 feet tall to cover the ugly apartment building that sprung up next door. The growing area is only about 5 feet wide, but over 40 feet long. It is a rather difficult area to access for pruning but I can leave a small walkway along the house. I am assuming a tall timber type bamboo would be the best choice? How are these plants managed long term?
Thank you for your time,
Running bamboos have rhizomes that can
spread 5' in a year, so they need to be controlled. This can either be
done manually (by pruning the rhizomes a few times a year) or by
installing a barrier. It sounds like the latter is the best choice for
you. Here is our webpage about bamboo barrier, with photos of how to
install it: http://www.bamboogarden.com/barrier.htm
I suggest you install an open sided barrier, blocking the fence line but leaving
the side facing your house open for annual pruning. This is the best way to
ensure long term success for the large Timber types.
Even inside a barrier, bamboo is not maintenance-free; you'll need to check
around the edges of the plant a few times a year, and clip any rhizomes
that are trying to jump over the top of the barrier and make sure that the
planting area is not too full of rhizomes. Every few years, you should
thin out your grove by cutting out the small and the dead canes. Bamboo
isn't very finicky about the soil it grows in, but if you amend the soil
at planting with compost or manure, the plant will grow better and faster.
Bamboo rhizomes usually only run 6-8" deep (they'll go deeper inside a
barrier), so they also benefit tremendously from a good mulching (again,
compost, manure, grass clippings, generally any sort of organic material).
In clay soil, a good layer of mulch has the added advantage of keeping the
rhizomes close to the surface, making them easier to find and control.
Let me know if you have any more questions,
Noah @ Bamboo Garden
Subject: Bamboo in Pots
I would like to keep bamboo in large pots out on my patio year-round. I
live in New York City, so the weather can get quite cold and I'm not sure
if they would be able to withstand the temperatures in a pot like they do
in the ground.
Do you have a variety that you'd recommend?
Dear H S,
The problem with bamboo in pots in cold weather is usually dehydration. If
the pot freezes, the bamboo can't get any water. Insulation would help
(sawdust, etc.). For plants in a pot, you might knock about 15 degrees off
the estimated cold hardiness. A bamboo estimated to be hardy to minus
fifteen, for example, might be hardy to about zero in a pot. Phyllostachys
aureosulcata, or Crookstem bamboo, is pretty hardy and also
interesting-looking and pretty snazzy in pots. Ph. nuda and Ph. bissettii
are also very hardy; nuda might not look as good for you in a pot, as its
major attraction is its dark color, which tends to get bleached out with too
much sun. Bissettii is a nice, very green bamboo. You can find pictures of
all three on our website.
Subject: Indoor Bamboo
My indoor bamboo is not doing well. The leaves are dying back at the tips. I have tried to fertilize it and water it more, but nothing seems to be making any difference. In fact, things seem to be worse this winter. Why is bamboo so difficult to grow indoors? I think I have a type of Phyllostachys. Any tips appreciated.
Indoor air tends to be dry, especially in the winter when many homes have forced air heat. Many bamboos, particularly Phyllostachys have thinner, more delicate leaves that can suffer from this uniformly warm dry air. That is one reason some of our indoor selections have larger, thicker, glossy leaves such as my #1 interior plant: P. japonica. Most bamboos go through a period of winter dormancy in which they do not need water for growth, just sustenance. Because of the warm interior the soil (potting soil tends to have a high percentage of organic matter) can rot, especially if kept continually wet or over watered. Keep 'em on the dry side, not constantly soggy
Bamboos are not like most indoor plants such as a spider plant, which can tolerate a variety of conditions of light, heat and moisture, these tend to sit in one place in a relatively small container almost indefinitely. Bamboo grows expansively and needs to be repotted if not every year, then every other. It has seasonal growth spurts, and benefits from seasonal temp variations. Most bamboos will benefit from being shifted outside for a couple months in the spring or summer, then back indoors for the winter, or a sun porch, atrium, etc, musical chairs for plants, they take some getting used to, and the success rate is not great without some flexibility. Hope this clears up some issues, if not please call for more specifics and suggestions.
Subject: Bamboo Plantation Project
I am writing because I am working on a project site in Oakland, CA. We potentially have up to 10 acres of land on which we would like to plant bamboo. The soil on this site is contaminated with lead, petrochemicals and solvents. Will the soil need to be treated or fertilized before planting the bamboo. One of the benefits we have read about with bamboo is that it can help remedy contaminated soil and clean the air. The site also gets good sunlight throughout the day and the weather here is pretty mild, warm to hot summers and cooler winters but we rarely get any frost or extreme cold. The site is an open lot surrounded by streets on all four sides so I am assuming we would want to install a root barrier, but I am also not sure if the need for a root barrier depends on if we select clumping versus running bamboo. We would like a fast growing bamboo and we plan to harvest and use the bamboo. I am putting together a proposal for this Thursday so as much information as you could provide as soon as possible would greatly appreciated!! I have created a list of the main questions I have below:
1.What type of bamboo would you recommend for our site, running vs. clumping and what species?
2. How many gallons of bamboo would you recommend planting in a 10 acre site to fill it out?
3. How much would it cost to buy that amount of bamboo, please include shipping cost?
4. How much would it cost to buy and ship the root barrier for a 10 acre site (approximately 8,400ft)
5. Would we need to treat the soil before planting?
6. How often do you harvest the crop?
7. What are the typical treatment and maintenance procedures and costs that go along with having a crop that size?
Thank you very much for your help, if there is any other information that I can provide to help you answer my questions please do not hesitate to contact me!
Sounds like quite a project! Bamboo is an excellent choice for a multi-use crop in addition to a natural decontaminant for both soil and air.
There are several points to consider; I will attempt to give you a useful, general outline:
1. What type of soil is present at this site? Was it formerly industrial? Is there a way to measure the intensity of the contaminants to determine if they are still present in a high enough volume to damage newly planted bamboo?
In any case, I would recommend importing some kind of loose, loamy topsoil to give the newly planted bamboo a head start. It would take a tremendous amount of mulch to cover 10 acres completely. As a compromise, I recommend starting with enough to provide each bamboo with a 10 foot diameter x 6 inch deep layer. As the bamboo matures, it will create its own leaf mulch which will aid in expansion beyond the initial planting bed.
2. Irrigation. Any type of bamboo will need consistent irrigation during the summer in order to survive the first two years. Beyond the third year, irrigation is less important as the bamboo becomes larger, deeper rooted, and hence, more drought resistant. However, occasional saturation will provide better growing conditions and you will have a more successful crop.
There are many different methods of irrigation to choose from, but if I had to pick one, it would be a relatively new company called Floppy Sprinkler, due to their water and energy efficiency. Here is a link to their website: http://www.floppysprinkler.com/
3. Maintenance. Bamboo will require a fair amount of maintenance. Fertilizing, weed control, containment, etc. Will there be machinery available to assist with this process? (highly recommended for an area of that size). Rhizome barrier is not recommended for an area of that size, especially if there is a tractor with a plow on site. Barrier is a major an unnecessary expense (8,400ft x $1.5 per foot = $12,600), as the rhizomes exist in the upper 10 inches of soil, so routine plowing along the outside of the beds will adequately contain the bamboo. Barrier is most often used in small city lots, where root pruning is not possible.
4. Time line. How long are you willing to wait for the bamboo to mature? This (and your budget) will determine what size of bamboo to start with (there are many sizes, from 1 gallon to 25 gallon, ranging in height from 2 feet to 25 feet tall)
For example, a one gallon Phyllostachys bambusoides (Japanese Timber Bamboo) is about 2 feet tall. It will put on about 2 feet of growth in the first year, 3-5 feet the next, 4-8 feet the third year. In other words, after 3 years, a plant started from a one gallon would be about 12 to 16 feet tall. A five gallon plant starts at 4-5 feet tall so it would achieve the same height in 2 years. A ten gallon is about 8-10 feet tall so it would achieve the same height in one year. At maturity, Phyllostachys bamusoides reaches an impressive height of over 50 feet. Expect at least 10 years to reach maturity from a one gallon plant, a year less for each size larger. Follow me?
5. Spacing. Each individual bamboo plant should have about 25 feet of space (which is enough area to allow it to reach mature height). Keep in mind you will probably need to create a grid network for roads for access for maintenance, irrigation, etc.
6. Bamboo use. Determine your main focus of bamboo use. Are you interested in propagating live plant material to sell in the horticulture trade, or are you mainly focused on harvesting large bamboo culms for timber? Shoots for food, or all of the above? In any case, there are many different bamboo that are useful and well suited to grow in your area.
7. Multiple species. I recommend using at least three different types of bamboo. Diversity is important in case one species goes into flower, you will be able to continue using the other two as the flowering bamboo slowly regenerates.
Note: while Phyllostachys usually regenerate from the root mass after flowering, it will take them about 4-5 years before they reach their previous stature. Flowering is very infrequent, once every 50 to 70 years. Not all species recover; most Fargesia die out completely after going to seed.
Link to this page in order to see our large Timber bamboo selection: http://www.bamboogarden.com/Timber%20Bamboos.htm
This page has smaller Phyllostachys that are usually under 30 feet:
Almost all Phyllostachys are well adapted to grow in Northern CA. I would recommend them over any other genus pf bamboo. Three of the more useful Phyllostachys are P. aurea, P. nigra, and P. bamusoides. They cover a wide array of height, culm shape, culm color, and have relatively strong wood.
To give a price quote, we will need to figure how many plants to start with, what size, and what species. I hope I have provided enough information so that you can determine these figures. If you would like further assistance in plotting it all out, I would be glad to help. Don't hesitate to call or email.
Thank you for the inquiry,
Thank you so much for getting back to me! That information is very helpful! I do not know the intensity of the contaminants in the soil, the lot was previously owned by Caltrans and runs along side the freeway. If we were to find out that it was highly contaminated would you recommend treating the soil before planting the bamboo?
What does the root pruning machinery entail? Could you provide more information on what we would need to purchase and how frequently we need to prune the roots to maintain a healthy crop?
What is involved in harvesting the bamboo if we intend to use the bamboo as timber?
Thank you so much for your help, Noah!
If the land runs adjacent to the freeway, it probably has a fair amount of pollutants from constant traffic, but likely not at a high enough level to inhibit bamboo growth. I recommend testing the soil to determine the level of pollutants present.
What are the dimensions of the acreage? It is a long narrow strip, or more of a square shape?
Root pruning is only necessary for containment of the bamboo. Its overall health is not dependant on root pruning. We use a Kubota tractor with a plow, when manual labor is not practical. Because our nursery is 16 acres, this enables us to keep pace with rapid bamboo growth!
While you can expect 5-10 feet of spread per year from a healthy Phyllostachys grove, it will not be able to grow under, or cause any damage to the freeway. However, if the culms grow too close to the road they may lean over, causing a traffic hazard. I recommend creating a smaller, gravel access road between the freeway and the bamboo ( and at least 30 feet distance, see attached illustration). Bamboo is rarely able to spread into compact, dry gravel areas. In general, root pruning (plowing) should be done 2-3 times per year, in the Summer through late Fall to provide effective rhizome control. You can plow along the inside border of the access roads.
Culm harvesting should be done once per year in the Summer through Fall. No more than about 30% of the culms should be harvested. Selectively cut culms at the base with a hand saw. Target culms that are older than 2 years (new culms grow in the spring, but remain relatively soft until they over winter). Bamboo is a giant grass, and grows as such: The new shoots emerge in the spring, growing an inch to several inches per day. They reach maximum height and leaf out by mid summer. The youngest culms are often the largest with the most vibrant color, but they should not be harvested until at least 2 years old. Each spring, a healthy bamboo grove will send out larger and larger culms until they reach their maximum height. For example, a Phyllostachys that is 12 feet tall, with a dozen culms, (three years old) will produce a dozen to twenty more culms the following spring that will grow to 14 to 17 feet by summer, more than doubling its mass in one growing season.
Braches and leaves should be pruned on site and left at the base of the bamboo to decompose and recycle nutrients. Culms should be stored in a shaded, dry area, outside, or in a large, unheated warehouse (if the humidity is too low the culms may split as they dry). The drying process takes at least one year. There are many different methods of treating bamboo culms for longevity. I recommend The Bamboo Preservation Compendium as a good reference for technical details.
Let me know if I can answer any more questions or provide a price quote. I am particularly interested in this project, as I have long thought bamboo has potential to use as a sort of filter for traffic noise and pollution.
I am very thankful for your help and glad to hear you are interested by this project! Your information is very helpful!! We are looking at two potential sites, I have attached images of them both. The first is an approximately 5 acre parcel, and the second is the 13 acre site. They are both near the freeway and both previously Caltrans sites which contain contaminated soil. I am trying to put together a proposal that gives an idea of how many bamboo plants we would need and what the associated costs would be on a per acre basis, just because we don’t know exactly what size lot we will be dealing with yet I think my presentation will be more effective if I can give them a general idea of costs on a per acre basis. So I did a quick square grid of an acre and if each tree needs 25 feet of space around it I came up with an 8x8 grid of trees, (each square 25ftx25ft) so that’s 64 trees per acre for just a general idea, please feel free to correct me if you think that’s inaccurate or impossible, but if we were to do the three types of Phyllostachys that you recommended: P. aurea, P. nigra, and P. bamusoides, what would that cost us to get an assortment of those three? And how much would the fertilizer cost for each tree to have a 10 foot diameter x 6 inch deep layer as you suggested? Are those types of bamboo running or clumping?
Do the culms need a year to dry after harvesting regardless of what their intended use is, or is that only if we want them to be used as timber? What if we were using the bamboo for art projects or hardwood floors?
If you can please put together some pricing information for the parameters I have listed above that would be incredibly helpful! Thank you!!
Thank you for sending the aerial photos. 64 plants per acre is a good starting point.
I would like to discuss wholesale bamboo prices over the telephone. I will try to give you a call or you can call me @ 503-647-2700
I will touch on commercial shipping briefly:
Shipping: The standard rate for a 53 foot semi to your area varies between $2000 and $2500, so it is dependant on a quote from a freight company at the time of shipment.
We can stack many bamboo into one truck, approximately:
1200 5 gallon plants (or about $2 per plant)
700 10 gallon plants ($3.25 per plant)
300 15 gallon ($7.50 per plant)
125 25 gallon ($18 per plant)
The cost of topsoil is probably something you should investigate from local sources, as shipping from Oregon would be cost prohibitive. On a per acre basis I estimate you will need about 32 yards of soil for the initial planting (.5 yards per plant). After 3 years, I recommend adding another 64 yards per acre. Preparation of the soil already existing on site may be expensive, as, courtesy of Google street view, I can see the site on has a lot of concrete rubble, which may need to be moved with heavy machinery before any planting can be done. (see attachment).
Locally, mulch, compost and topsoil mixture cost about $25 per yard, which would put the soil cost at approximately $800 per acre.
Irrigation may be difficult to set up. I don't know where to begin with outlining a cost for irrigation, as that is not part of our profession. Previously, I emailed a link to Floppy Sprinkler, here it is again: http://www.floppysprinkler.com/
Installing a drip irrigation may be the most cost effective, and efficient on water supply but it has limitations as it can only irrigate where drip nozzles are present. Do you have access to city water at these sites?
Culms should be dried if you intend to use them for anything outdoors exposed to the elements.
Lots of things to consider. I really hope you can get approval to go ahead with this project as I think it is an important stepping stone for bamboo in general to expand beyond horticulture and into serious consideration as an agricultural crop within the United States. Good Luck!