Types of bamboo plants

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Bamboo Plant Types – What Are Some Common Bamboo Varieties

Bamboo has a reputation for being invasive and hard to control, and because of this, gardeners tend to shy away from it. This reputation isn’t unfounded, and you shouldn’t plant bamboo without first doing some research. If you plan accordingly and pay attention to what variety you’re planting, however, bamboo can be a great addition to your garden. Keep reading to learn about different varieties of bamboo.

Bamboo Plant Types

Bamboo can be split into two general types: running and clumping.

Clumping bamboo grows just as the name suggests – in a big clump of grass that mainly grows up and stays put where you’ve planted it. This is the recommended type if you want a well-behaved bamboo stand in your garden that you don’t have to worry about spreading.

Running bamboo, on the other hand, will spread like crazy if not kept in check. It propagates by sending out underground runners, called rhizomes, which send up new shoots elsewhere. These rhizomes can travel more than 100 feet before sprouting, meaning your new bamboo patch may suddenly become your neighbor’s new bamboo patch as well. And then their neighbor’s. Because of this, you should not plant running bamboo unless you know how to contain it and are willing to keep an eye on it.

You can achieve a containing effect underground by surrounding the bamboo with metal sheeting, concrete, or a store-bought root barrier, buried a minimum of 2 feet below ground and extending a minimum of 4 inches above ground. Bamboo roots are surprisingly shallow, and this should stop any runners. You should still check on the bamboo regularly, though, to make sure no rhizomes have escaped. Planting your bamboo in a large above-ground container that does not rest on soil is a more foolproof option.

Common Bamboo Varieties

Bamboo is an evergreen grass that has different cold tolerances for different types of bamboo. The varieties of bamboo you can plant outdoors will be dictated by the coldest temperature your area reaches in winter.

Cold-hardy types

Three running bamboo varieties that are very cold hardy include:

  • Golden Grove
  • Black bamboo
  • Kuma bamboo

Two cold hardy clumping bamboo plant types are:

  • Chinese Mountain
  • Umbrella bamboo

The warmer your climate, the more your options you have for different types of bamboo.

Warm climate types

Clumping bamboo varieties:

  • Chinese Goddess
  • Hedge bamboo
  • Fernleaf
  • Silverstripe

Running types include:

  • Black bamboo
  • Red Margin
  • Golden Golden
  • Giant Japanese Timber

Is bamboo a tree or a grass?

The definition is contested as the answer has immense economic implications. If bamboo is a tree or timber, it belongs to the forest department and can be auctioned to the paper and pulp industry, often at throwaway rates.

If it is a grass, then it would be classified as a minor forest produce and people would have the right to cut bamboo for sale or for value addition by making furniture or baskets.
The Indian Forest Act 1927, the bible for forest managers in the country, says “forest produce” is what is found in or brought from a forest. This includes trees and leaves and plants that are not trees. Furthermore, trees include palms and bamboo. Timber is defined as trees, fallen or felled. Over the years, foresters have interpreted these provisions to mean that bamboo, being a tree, is timber and, therefore, under the control of the department. The legacy passed down from generations of forest managers has meant that this grass-like tree is not included in the list of minor forest produce.
The minor produce of a forest is everything valuable that is not timber. This produce, from tendu used in beedi manufacture to lac resin and tamarind, is big bucks business. It is also the main source of earning a living for the people who live in and around the country’s forests. The opportunity is to use this ecological wealth for building economic wellbeing of the people, mostly poor, in these rich regions. But forest policy has worked deliberately to destroy this option.
So over the past years different state governments have nationalised different produce and differently handed them over to either federations or contractors or corporations to collect and sell. People, who live in the forests, have no right to sell the nationalised minor forest produce, other than to governments. They are wage labourers and collectors for contractors and forest departments.
B D Sharma, a former civil servant who has spent a lifetime campaigning for the rights of tribal communities to forest produce, will tell you that many attempts have been made to correct this distortion. In 1974, when the tribal sub plan was conceptualised, it was agreed that the collector would be the owner of the produce. But even as the policy got operationalised governments took control over the produce, leaving collectors to be just collectors.
Then in 1996, the Central Act for panchayats in Scheduled V (tribal) areas was passed. It directed state governments to ensure that in these areas gram sabha (the village assembly) would be given the “powers of ownership of minor forest produce”. But even before the ink on the Act was dry, the resource battle was lost again.
First, the forest department objected, saying PESA (as this act is known) did not define what constitutes minor forest produce. As Sanjay Upadhyay, a lawyer working in this area, points out this is when the Indian Forest Act does not define minor forest produce. Second, states made rules to bypass these provisions.
The fight for the minor produce does not stop here. In 2006, the Forest Rights Act (FRA) for the first time defined minor forest produce as including bamboo and tendu and many other things. It also gave tribals and other traditional forest dwellers the “right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce, which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries.” Now the fat is in the fire. Tribals and other traditional forest dwellers have the right to both collect and sell bamboo.
What happens now? As my colleagues found when they traversed the country’s tribal districts, the right exists only on paper. Of the 2.9 million claims settled under the FRA, only 1.6 per cent pertained to community rights. Worse, virtually no right of any community has been recognised for minor forest produce. They noted the missing right was deliberate. Governments across the tribal districts ensured no information was ever provided to people that this right was available. The technique was simple: the form issued to people to ask for rights left out this provision.
Two villages did ask. Menda Lekha and Marda in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra asked for the community right over their forest and its produce. The right was recognised. But as Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, an activist working with the villagers, will tell you this legal right is still not worth the paper it is written on. The forest department now says that people can indeed have control over the sale of the bamboo, but they cannot take it out of the forest. The transit rules over forest produce do not allow for transportation of any produce unless it has been “authorised”. The state forest department is busy inserting provisions to say that people have rights over the minor forest produce, but only if it is for self use.
The forest department will tell you these controls are needed to protect forests. But forests in India are the habitat of millions of people. The conservation of forests will require more productive benefits. The challenge is to use the green wealth and also regenerate it and increase it for the future. Putting a fence around it and negating its value as the livelihood of millions will not do.
So, let us hope that this time the definition of bamboo will remain settled. It is a tree-grass, one that can give a million new shoots and provide a million new jobs to the people.
—Sunita Narain

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The Best Varieties of Bamboo for Building and Construction

With all the talk about bamboo construction and building houses from bamboo, a lot of people are asking: What are the best varieties of bamboo for building?

In fact, most botanists recognize more than 1200 species of bamboo, or as many as 2000. And while each variety of bamboo is special and amazing in its own way, only a handful are well suited for construction.

The best bamboos for building typically belong to one of these four genera: Guadua, Dendrocalamus, Bambusa and Phyllostachys. We’ll get into the specific varieties in a moment, but first there are a few things you need to know about bamboo in general.

Know your bamboo

With thousands of varieties of bamboo to choose from, you can truly find a perfect species for any occasion. There are ideal specimens for making fishing poles, excellent bamboos for eating, beautiful accents for your Japanese garden, cold hardy varieties for the mountains, and adaptable candidates for bonsai.

And of course, there are plenty of varieties that have multiple uses. Bambusa oldhamii, for example, can provide an excellent privacy hedge, and its fresh, young shoots are also tender and delicious to eat. Oldhamii‘s long, straight canes even make for a great building material.

And there are many more varieties that look beautiful in the garden while also having other valuable functions. But then some bamboos are strictly ornamental. They might grow prolifically and add plenty of character to your landscape design, but their canes aren’t as useful. And finally, some varieties may be ideal for producing giant poles for construction, but just aren’t practical to plant in your backyard.

Your bamboo criteria

So determining the best variety will depend on a lot of factors. If you want to grow the bamboo yourself, you will need to be sure that it’s suitable for your climate and soil type. Most of the best bamboos for building are indigenous to tropical and subtropical climates.

Now if you live in Florida, that’s great. But if you’re in New York or Minnesota, it’s going to be a challenge. You might be surprised though, to see how many varieties of bamboo can thrive in a place like Oregon.

Whether you decide to grow the bamboo yourself, or order dry poles from a building material supplier, you will need to consider your specific needs. First of all: how big do you need? Some bamboos grow over 100 feet tall and up to 8 or 10 inches in diameter. Keep in mind, these results are rare. They are also based on ideal growing conditions, which you may or may not be able to provide. Furthermore, if you want to order 100-foot bamboo poles and have them shipped, it could be pretty costly.

If you’re looking for bamboo that’s 3-4 inches in diameter and 30 or 40 feet long, that’s very doable. Even if you live in a temperate climate, you should be able to grow bamboo this size. But it requires some space to spread out. Don’t expect to grow bamboo like this in a small, suburban backyard without ruffling some feathers with your neighbors. It can get out of control.

Then you have a number of other factors to consider. Most bamboo, you’ve no doubt noticed, are hollow in the center. And the best varieties for building will have the thickest walls. But some types of bamboo, in Vietnam for example, are actually solid. This could be desirable, or not, depending how you want to use it.

Also, for decorative purposes, you will want to think about the color. Some bamboos are very dark, almost black, and look beautiful when dried. You may want to use some black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) for decorative accents. Although it does not have ideal properties for building. Keep in mind, most bamboo is dark green when it grows, but turns yellow once it dries.

Your bamboo building budget

At last, you need to think about how much you want to spend on your construction project. Bamboo has a reputation for being a remarkably renewable and inexpensive building material. And while it is very renewable, it is not necessarily cheap to build with.

In subtropical areas of Central America and Southeast Asia, where the bamboo is ubiquitous, the raw material is basically free. The bamboo will grow back faster than you can raise a house. And simple structures, resistant to floods and earthquakes, can be assembled at a minimal cost.

If you’re planning a bamboo house in the U.S. however, you will need to comply with strict building codes and regulations. That will probably involve hiring an engineer and an architect. You will also want to obtain specialized hardware for connecting corners and sealing gaps.

Most bamboo builders want to create a house with the minimal carbon footprint. That’s why they choose bamboo over conventional lumber. In keeping with this philosophy, they will want to incorporate passive solar, rainwater catchment and other green features. These elements could drive up your initial costs, but save you money in energy and utilities in the long run.

Best bamboos for construction

Genus Guadua

For the smallest carbon footprint, your choice of bamboo will depend mainly on what variety is available in your area. In South and Central America, there is really only one choice of bamboo for construction. And it’s one of the most important varieties of bamboo on earth.

The genus Guadua contains about 20 different species. These are all massive timber varieties, and some of them grow more than 100 feet tall and more than 6 inches in diameter.

Guadua is a neotropical variety, meaning that it grows indigenously in the tropic and subtropic regions of the New World, namely Central and South America. And these are clumping bamboos, as opposed to the more aggressive running types. G. angustifolia, native to the area between Venezuela and Peru, is the most widely used. But other species are also common, depending mainly on the geography.

Bamboo construction is widespread in Latin America, especially in Colombia and Ecuador, where it has a long history. Simón Vélez, of Colombia, is one of the best known gurus in the field of bamboo construction. His bamboo structures in Asian and Latin America are legendary.

Guadua angustifolia

Alexander von Humboldt and Simón Bolívar brought attention to the Guadua bamboo in the 1800s, praising its strength and utility. And because of its rich history, botanists and bamboo enthusiasts from around the world have studied this genus extensively.

Today, international efforts are under way to propagate Guadua in more parts of Central and South America. INBAR (The International Bamboo and Rattan Organization) is working with organizations in Ecuador and throughout the continent to promote the use of bamboo for affordable housing.

In addition to its superior size and strength, Guadua also has excellent ecological properties. This fast-growing variety can convert significant amounts of CO2 and plays an important role in habitat restoration. In areas of deforestation, around the Amazon for example, bamboo is an excellent pioneer crop. It grows quickly, restores the soil, and paves the way for the return of other native species. And because Guadua is a clumping bamboo, it’s not going to take over the whole forest.

Genus Dendrocalamus

Native to the tropic and subtropic regions of India and Southeast Asia, Dendrocalamus includes several species with important uses for construction. Most members of this clumping genus can grow up to 50 or 60 feet tall with mature culms of 3-5 inches in diameter.

Here at Bambu Batu, we have a particular affinity for Dendrocalamus strictus. This species is sometimes called Male Bamboo or Calcutta Bamboo. And in Indonesia the natives refer to it as Bambu Batu, which translates literally as Rock Bamboo.

Revered for its hardness, this species is common for furniture and light construction, as well as paper making. The culms have especially thick walls, and in dry conditions they are nearly solid. Another nickname for this species is Solid Bamboo.

More popular for heavy construction, Dendrocalamus asper is another giant species that grows throughout Indonesia, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. This prolific species is used for everything from houses and bridges to housewares and musical instruments. Its young shoots can also be the source of a nutritious meal.

You’ll find the most impressive monuments of D. asper on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Here, John Hardy and the architecture and design firm known as IBUKU have built some of the world most astonishing bamboo houses and structures with D. asper.

In fact, they have even built a school with the world’s first all-bamboo campus. Check out the Bali Green School to learn more. Or visit Bamboo U to sign up for one of Hardy’s intensive courses in bamboo construction.

Genus Bambusa

One of the more common genera of bamboo, Bambusa contains well over 100 species, mostly native to Asia and the Pacific Islands. Many of these clumping bamboos are popular garden specimens, especially Oldham’s (B. oldhamii). Bambusa varieties are also well-known for their tasty and edible shoots.

Most species of Bambusa grow tall and upright, with handsome canes up 40-60 feet high. The best species for building puposes is probably B. bambos. Also known as Giant Thorny Bamboo, this variety can get up to 100 feet tall. Its poles have very thick walls, and when growing, the plant has a very dark green appearance.

Besides home construction, this species is also useful for a variety of applications. Bambusa poles are versatile for fencing, scaffolding, thatching, and crafts.

Genus Phyllostachys

Another of the largest genera of bamboo, Phyllostachys also contains more than 100 varieties. Native to China and Taiwan, it’s mostly subtropical but tends to tolerate a more temperate habitat. For this reason, it is commonly found in many more parts of the world.

But be careful, because unlike the other three bamboo genera above, Phyllostachys is definitely a runner. This means their roots will grow aggressively, and they can easily get out of control. Some people like how fast these bamboos cover a large area, especially when they are trying to create a large privacy hedge. But it doesn’t take long for your privacy screen to go on the attack and uproot the rest of your yard. And your neighbor’s yard.

In China, this genus is especially ubiquitous. The Chinese use numerous varieties for everything from construction and scaffolding to chopsticks and handicrafts. You can generally recognize a Phyllostachys specimen pretty easily by the distinctive groove that runs along its internodes. (See image.)

Phyllostachys with its distinctive groove

In temperate climates, P. vivax is one of the more popular varieties of timber bamboo. Its massive poles have a lovely yellow hue and grow up to about 60 feet tall and 4-5 inches thick.

One of the most important bamboo varieties of all, P. edulis is now the primary species of commercial bamboo. Commonly referred to as Moso Bamboo, this is the source for bamboo flooring and clothing, two major industries that have emerged in the last 20 years.

Further reading

To learn more about the many varieties of bamboo, their many uses, and how to select the best variety, take a look at these other articles.

  • 10 Best bamboos for your garden
  • 11 Cold hardy bamboos for snowy climates
  • Best bamboo for poles
  • Dendrocalamus strictus, aka Bambu Batu
  • Buddha’s Belly Bamboo
  • The complete guide to growing bamboo
  • What’s so great about bamboo?

Discover the 10 different types of bamboo you can use in a variety of places such as your yard, gardens, decks, patios and indoors.

Bamboos are a woody perennial plant that belongs to the true grass family called Poaceae . The plant’s size varies from species to species from giant timber to small annuals. Bamboo evolved around 30-40 million years ago after the dinosaurs died out. It is famous for growing very quickly since it can grow up to 91–122 centimeters in a single day. That means that it actually grows up to 3.8-5.0 centimeters in an hour!

Bamboo species are mainly divided into two main types: runners and clumpers. Clumper bamboo trees grow into a slowly expanding tuft while runners produce shoots several meters away from the parent plant. The Chinese names for different bamboo trees all contain the character ‘竹’. It is pronounced as ‘zhu’.

Clumper Bamboo

Clumping bamboo is popular since they aren’t any invasive species and stay in their assigned territory. Their underground stems called rhizomes are different from other timber or non-clumping bamboo. They actually make a u-shape instead of spreading horizontally. The new culms appear next to the parent plant and only spread a few inches annually. They can grow up to 8-25 feet, depending on the species of bamboo.

Fargesia Bamboo

Fargesia is a clumping bamboo that belongs to the flowering plant section of the grass family. It is native to China but can be found in some areas of eastern Himalayas and Vietnam. Some species of the Fargesia are cultivated as ornamental plants like the fountain bamboo or umbrella bamboo.

The Fargesia develops small to medium mountain clumps. These are mostly found in the alpine conifer forests of many regions in East Asia. They are called ‘Jian Zhu’ in Chinese, which means arrow bamboo. The scientific name, Fargesia, was given to them in honor of a French botanist called Père Paul Guillaume Farges.

These special clumping bamboos are actually known as the world’s hardiest bamboos but aren’t an invasive species. They are the favorite food of the cute Giant Pandas. The decrease in the number of Fargesia had the worst effect on the population of pandas in China. They are now available in many nurseries over the world since they are affordable and have thick clumping habits.

Guadua Bamboo

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Guadua is part of the Neotropical genus and is a thorny clumping bamboo type. It is a moderate to large species of bamboo known as the largest Neotropical bamboo types in the world. There are many animals that depend on the Guadua bamboo as an instrumental part of their diets such as the Atlantic Bamboo Rats and Amazon rats.

This bamboo type is mostly found in Uruguay to all the way to Trinidad and northern Mexico. The largest concentrations of the species are found in Orinoco and Amazon basin. The trees are usually found in low altitudes fewer than 1,500m, but some species can live in altitudes higher than 2,500m. They are found in all sorts of habitats including savannas, gallery forests, lower-montane forests, lowland tropical forests, and inter-Andean vegetation in the valleys.

The Guadua is an important American bamboo since it is widely used for the construction of houses in coasts and river banks of Ecuador and Colombia. The building material is popular since it has great watershed protection qualities. The bamboo is even used for its mechanical properties as vegetable steel.

Over-exploitation has led to the depletion of its natural numbers. We need to ensure sustainable cutting of this bamboo since Guadua is more effective at removing carbon dioxide from the air than many other tropical trees.

Giant Bamboo

The Giant Bamboo known as the Dendrocalamus Giganteus is a giant subtropical and tropic clumping bamboo. It is native to Southeast Asia and is one of the largest species of bamboo in the world. These grayish-green bamboos grow in close clumps and usually reach a height of 30 meters (98 feet). It goes rather quickly and can grow up to 40 cm a day in favorable conditions. It is commonly found growing along river banks in low and high altitudes. The bamboo is native to Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh.

The culms of the bamboo are straight and have a powdery appearance. When dried, the color turns to a brownish green and has a smooth surface. The young shoots of the Giant Bamboo are a blackish purple color.

The Giant bamboo is popularly used in India for bridge construction. It is also used as reinforcement of concrete, scaffolding, ladders, house frames in walls, tiles, and floor coverings. Its leaves are commonly used for thatching.

Chilean Bamboo

Chusquea Culeou is commonly known as the Chilean bamboo and is a species of the flowering plant of the Poaceae grass family. This evergreen bamboo is native to South America and is generally a frost tolerant species. It is widely cultivated in temperate regions and is native to southwestern Argentina, humid forests of Chile, and rainforests of Valdivia.

Chilean bamboo is a very important plant since it controls the patterns of forest dynamics. It impedes the regeneration of tree species so that they don’t grow too hurry and die off from the cold. They grow up to a height of 8m or 26 feet. They are clumping bamboo and form a substantial clump when conditions are favorable. They have hair lanceolate leaves that have a spine of the end, and their flowers are a light brown color. Blooming periods can last for 60 years and the plant dies after releasing its seeds. Unlike most bamboos, the stems of the Chilean bamboo are completely solid.

The cane of the bamboo could grow up to 6m and was initially used by Aboriginal tribes to make the pole of their spears. They are also used to make trutruca, which is a musical instrument.

Runner Bamboo

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Running Bamboo is categorized after its rooting characteristics. There are two main types of rhizome developments. Running bamboo exhibits monopodial or leptomorph rhizomes that are known for the independent undergrounds stems they produce. Running bamboo are found in almost all climates of the world.

Arrow Bamboo 🔥 TIP: !

Pseudosasa japonica is commonly known as Japanese arrow bamboo. The name comes from when Japanese Samurai used the stiff, hard canes of the bamboo to make arrows. They are native to Korea and Japanese regions like Kyushu, Honshu, and Honshu. They are also grown in plant zones 6-10 in the United States from Florida to southern Connecticut.

The arrow bamboo is a cold-hardy species can tolerate temperatures till 0 °F/−17.7 °C. It can grow in full sun or shade and has palm-like leaves. The leaves grow up to 5-13 inches in length. It is typically a yellow-brown color and can even survive in containers and near salty air.

Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo

Dwarf Green Stripe bamboo’s scientific name is Pleioblastus. It is the East Asian genus of the monopodial bamboo. The plant is native to Japan and China, as well as New Zealand, Europe, Korea, and the Western Hemisphere.

This bamboo is known for its chartreuse leaves with green stripes, which look absolutely beautiful in early summer and spring. The bamboo is partially deciduous even in mild winters. This is why it is mowed to the ground in spring by gardeners to maintain its attractiveness.

It is cold-hardy and survives up to 0° F, but some species can even survive the intense colds of Minnesota. The bottom side of the leaves of this bamboo is covered in fine hair. This makes the bamboo highly-resistant to bamboo mites. The plant spreads vigorously through underground rhizomes. They run along beneath the soil’s surface and produce small plantlets at the nodes. They are used to propagate new plants, but gardeners should be careful. If they aren’t removed properly, they can become invasive.

Black Bamboo

Phyllostachys is commonly known as Black Bamboo and belongs to the genus of Asian bamboo. It is native to southern and central China, as well as the Himalayas and northern Indochina regions. Some species have adapted and naturalized in Australia, America, southern Europe, and Asia.

The culm or stem of the black bamboo forms a prominent groove called sulcus. This runs along the length of each inter-node or segment of the bamboo. The black bamboo is identified by this unique feature since it helps the bamboo spread aggressively through underground rhizomes.

The species of Phyllostachys grows up to 30m or 100 feet tall if the conditions are optimal. The larger species of the black bamboo is known as timber bamboo since it is often used to make furniture and in construction. Other species are used as ornamental plants even though they are prone to cause trouble. They are an invasive species that need to be grown in containers or restricted artificially. Some species can also be grown as bonsai trees.

River Cane Bamboo

Arundinaria Gigantea has common names like Giant Cane and River Cane. It is native to the south-central and southeastern regions of the United States like Texas, Oklahoma, and Maryland. It has two main subspecies called the Arundinaria Gigantea and ssp. Gigante. The former is generally called the switch cane plant.

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It grows in wet habitats and is a perennial grass type. The cane has a rounded, hollow stem which can grow up to 10m or 33 ft tall. It uses a large network of thick underground rhizomes to spread. It has lance-shaped leaves, and its inflorescence has panicles or racemes. A single individual cane can live for about a decade. It produces flowers and seeds irregularly, based on the conditions around it.

This River Cane Bamboo can be found in many different places since it grows in pine, oak, ash, cottonwood, and cypress forests. Many other plants like the creeping blueberry, wax myrtle, blue huckleberry, and more use it as a support system. The canes are found on pine barrens, savannas, pocosins, bogs, floodplains, riparian woods, and more. They are wildfire tolerant but easily flood.

The Cherokee have always used this species of bamboo for basketry, as well as maintain canebrakes through periodic burning and cutting. After the European settlement on their lands, the practice was halted which led to depletion of River Cane Bamboo numbers. This nearly led to the loss of the art of basket making, which is still an important part of the economy of the Cherokee people. It was also widely used by many indigenous people to make blowguns, bows, arrows, medicine, flutes, walls, candles, knives, tobacco pipes, sleeping mats, fish traps, and more.

Bamboo is a versatile plant that can be used to create a number of things and used for multiple purposes. It should be protected so that its numbers don’t deplete since many animals and habitats depend on the bamboo tree.

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Bamboo belongs to the grass family and is technically called the Poaceae. As per proper scientific resources, there are about 1500 different types of bamboo. Though bamboo is a common plant that grows in most regions, they are best suited to the tropical climate. Places those are dry or wet for the most part of the year. Depending on the climatic conditions different species of plants grow in different parts of the world. Bamboo is largely seen in the Asian, American and Australian regions. Listed below are the major types of bamboos. Let us have a look at it:

Types of Bamboo:

Golden Bamboo:

Golden Bamboo, also known as fishpole bamboo, monk’s belly bamboo, and by many other names, is the right type of Bamboo if you are planning for an ornamental garden. The botanical name of the golden bamboo is Phyllostachys aurea.

Sasa Palmata:

This species of bamboo belongs to the low-growing type. Unlike most other bamboo species they have larger leaves which make them shade-tolerant ones. This type of bamboo is largely found in Japan and on an average these plants can grow up to 7 feet. With the scientific name Sasa Palmata, it is also known as the broad-leaved bamboo.

Golden Chinese Timber Bamboo:

The Golden Chinese Timber Bamboo, also scientifically known as Genus Phyllostachys, are bamboos that have beautiful golden-yellow canes, which is usually in different shades of green in other species. They are very much attractive, and as the name suggests, they are usually found in and around the Chinese region.

Fountain bamboo:

Fountain bamboos are usually seen in the Asian regions and are scientifically known as Fargesia. They are found predominantly in the Himalayan and the Tibetan regions. They are also unofficially called the ‘blue fountains bamboo’ due to the blue clumps that are found on the canes of the bamboo.

Black Bamboo:

Black Bamboo is scientifically known as Phyllostachys Nigra. Just like the fountain bamboo, the black bamboo has a reason for its name. The canes of the bamboo are found with feathery leaves and jet black culms, and that is the reason they take the name Black Bamboo. It is predominantly found in the Hunan Province of China.

Veitch’s Bamboo:

Veitch’s Bamboo is scientifically called Sasa veitchii. These bamboos are predominantly found in the regions of Japan. They don’t grow tall but are quite stronger as they have fast running rhizomes in the stem. They grow in natural green color but then the color changes to light papery brown when they become matured plants.

Yushania Maculata:

This Manculata bamboo is often considered as a rare collection and is known by the scientific name Yushania Manchulata. They have stems that are blue in color, and the stem is covered with reddish culms. This species proves to be one of the toughest types of bamboos.

Muriel’s Bamboo:

Scientifically known as the Fargesia Murielae, this is widely known as the umbrella bamboo. It is also a part of the flowering family of bamboos. They have yellow canes and are predominantly found in the regions of Asian and Japanese soils.

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The bamboo plant is undeniably a thing of great beauty as it’s peaceful to look at and calming to the senses

If you didn’t know already, it has also been associated with serenity and prosperity since ancient times. The perennial bamboo actually belongs to the grass family called Poaceae and size of the plant varies from one species to another, ranging from giant timbers to small annuals.

Bamboos can be divided into two main categories, namely, runners and clumpers. While clumper bamboos can grow out into a gradually expanding tuft, runners are known to produce shoots several meters away from the parent plant.

The plant has evolved around 30-40 million years ago and can grow incredibly fast to up to 19-22 centimeters in a day, growing up to 3.8-5 centimeters in an hour!

It is a versatile woody plant that can be placed anywhere in the house. They can actually purify the air in your living space and look simply beautiful wherever you keep them.

However, there are different kinds of species of the bamboo plant, that could be kept at various places in the house such as indoors, gardens, yards, or at the deck.

And if you want to know which ones are meant for these purposes, then stay tuned for the rest of the guide!

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As we had mentioned before, clumpers are a popular ornamental variety since they are not an invasive species and stay within their respective territory. The underground stems of the clumpers are known as rhizomes and are pretty different for other non-clumping bamboos or timber types.

Clumping bamboos grow out making a “U” shape instead of spreading out horizontally. The new “culms” sprout next to the parent plant and only grow and spread a few inches in a year.

Clumper bamboos can reach a height ranging anywhere between 8-25 feet. This will depend on the kind of clumper bamboo that is.

Following is an extensive list of all kinds of Clumper bamboos that there are and what use they could be put to.

  • Fargesia Bamboo

The Fargesia species of the clumper bamboo belongs to the category of the flowering plants of the grass family. Although the plant is native to China, it can also be found in certain areas of Vietnam and in the eastern regions of the Himalayas.

Some subspecies of the Fargesia bamboo are widely cultivated as ornamental plants. These include the umbrella bamboo and the fountain bamboo.

The Fargesia grows mountain clumps of small to medium sizes. These are generally found in the alpine conifer forests of several parts in East Asia.

In Chinese, the Fargesia species and its subspecies are called “Jian Zhu” that stands for “arrow bamboo.”

The scientific name of Fargesia was kept in honor of the French botanist, Pere Paul Guillaume Farges.

The Fargesia bamboos are in fact known as the world’s hardiest bamboo plants. However, they aren’t invasive. These are also the favorite food of the Giant Pandas and the decline in the overall population of Fargesia has had an immense impact on the population of pandas in China.

These can now be found in numerous nurseries worldwide as they are affordable and could be grown in large numbers easily owing to their thick clumping habits.

  • Chilean Bamboo

The Chusquea Culeou or, what is commonly known as the Chilean bamboo, also belongs to the flowering plant section of the Poaceae grass family. It is an evergreen bamboo that is native to South America.

This species of bamboos are tolerant to frost, yet widely cultivated in temperate zones. The Chilean bamboo can be commonly found in southwestern Argentina, the rainforests of Valdivia and in the humid Chilean forests.

One of the significant and vital aspects of this plant is that it controls and manages the patterns of forest dynamics.

The Chilean bamboo regulates the growth of the other types of trees so that they don’t grow out fast and perish in the cold. This clumper bamboo kind forms sizeable clumps, flourishing in favorable conditions.

These bamboos possess “hair lanceolate” leaves that have a sort of spine on its end. The flowers that bloom on this plant are light brown in color. The flowers can bloom up to 60 years, and the plant dies once it has released its seeds.

Chilean bamboo have entirely solid stems that makes it a significantly versatile source for making various things. In fact, the cane of the Chilean bamboos can grow up to a height of 6m and was once used by Aboriginal tribes for making the poles for spears. The stems are also used to make a musical instrument, trutruca.

  • Guadua Bamboo

The Guadua bamboo belongs to the Neotropical genus and is in fact, the largest known variety of Neotropical bamboos on this planet. It is a pretty thorny, clumping bamboo that falls under moderate to large species of bamboo.

The Guadua bamboo serves as a vital part of the diet for native animal life, such as the Amazon rats as well as the Atlantic Bamboo rats.

It is commonly found in Uruguay, Trinidad and in the northern parts of Mexico. The largest and densest concentrations are found in the Orinoco and the Amazon basin. These bamboo trees are generally found at lower altitudes that are lesser than 1,500m. Some species, however, can thrive at altitudes higher than 2500m.

This species of the clumping bamboo can be found in almost all kinds of habitats. These could include gallery forests, savannahs, lowland tropical forest, lower-montane forest or even in the inter-Andean vegetation found in the valleys.

The Guadua bamboo is considered to be an essential American bamboo as it majorly used for constructing houses, generally at the coastal region and near river banks in Colombia or Ecuador.

This is because the Guadua bamboo has excellent watershed protection qualities. It is also used for its robust and enduring physical properties for making things like vegetable steel.

Unfortunately, in recent times, the natural concentration of this clumping bamboo has depleted due to over-exploitation of the plant. And the only way to get that up again is to ensure the sustainable use of the species.

And one of the significant reasons that necessitate the conservation of the species is that the Guadua bamboo is one of those plants that effectively removes more carbon dioxide from the air than several other kinds of tropical trees.

  • Giant Bamboo

The Dendrocalamus Giganteus or the Giant Bamboo, as the name suggests, is a massive tropical and subtropical clumper bamboo type. The tree is native Southeast Asia and is evidently one of the largest bamboo species of bamboo in the world.

These bamboos have a somewhat grayish-green color, and they grow in close clumps, usually reaching a height of up to 30 meters, i.e., 98 feet.

It grows out quickly and can, in fact, grow up to 40 centimeters a day if provided with the favorable conditions. The trees can be found commonly thriving along the banks of the river at higher altitudes.

The Giant Bamboo is generally found in Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, and India. The “culms” of these bamboo trees grow out straight and has a kind of powdery or flaky appearance. When these are dried, the color changes into a brownish-green with a smooth surface. Also, the young shoots of the Giant Bamboo have a blackish-purple hue.

One of the major purposes of the Giant Bamboo is that of constructing bridges in India. It is also largely used as a reinforcement of concrete, ladders, scaffolding or house frames in tiles, walls, or floor coverings. The leaves of the trees are commonly used for thatching.

  • Giant Thorny Bamboo

The Bamboosa Bambos is commonly known as the Giant Thorny Bamboo, Spiny Bamboo or as the Indian Thorny Bamboo. This a clumping bamboo species that is native to Southern Asia. It is extensively found in India, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh and the Indo-China region.

The plant is also naturalized in Central America, Java, Malaysia, Central America, West Indies, Philippines, and Maluku.

The Giant Thorny Bamboo is a bright-green, tall and spiny bamboo species that grows in dense thickets. These thickets consist of a large concentration of heavily-branched, closely packed culms. The plant can reach a height of up to 10-35 meters, growing naturally in dry forest zones.

The culms of the plant do not grow straight and have stout, curved spines. These are also bright-green in color that turns brownish-green when dried. The young shoots of the plant, however, deep purple.

The branches spread out from the base of the plant and its aerial roots reach up to a few nodes above.

The length of the internodes measures about 15-46 cm in length and about 3.0 to 20 cm in diameter.

The Giant Thorny Bamboo is used in numerous applications, out of which employing their use in making ladders and bridges is a primary one. The leaves of the plant are used for thatching.

The plant is extensively used for medicinal purposes. It contains high levels of silica and is used in several ways in Ayurvedic medications, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. The root of the plant is used as an astringent and coolant to treat joint pain. The leaves are antispasmodic, and emmenagogue and are often taken internally to induce menstruation as well as relieve menstrual cramps.

The leaves of the plant can also be taken to strengthen and tone muscle functions and to eliminate worms. These also enjoy the reputation of being an aphrodisiac.

The plant is suitably used to make bamboo huts, furniture, handicraft and used as biofuel, active charcoal and for biomass consumption.

  • Oldham’s Bamboo

The Bambusa Oldhamii is a giant timber bamboo that is popularly called the Oldham’s Bamboo plant. This large species of bamboo is common and largely grown in the United States and is widely cultivated across the globe.

However, the plant is native to Southern China, especially in Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi, Zhejiang as well as Hainan, and to the Island of Taiwan. It is commonly cultivated in other places such as New Zealand, Chiapas, Peru, Honduras and Ryukyu Islands.

The plant is densely foliated and can grow up to 65 feet (20 m) in height in favorable conditions.

The culms of this bamboo plant reach a maximum of 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. The shoots grow swiftly in warmer months. The branches of this tree are short and have long, beautiful leaves.

The maximum height reached in cultivation depends on the temperature and varies accordingly. The plant can withstand temperatures as low as -7 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit).

In China and Taiwan, the young shoots of the Oldham’s Bamboo are considered to be delectables owing to their sweet taste and a crisp texture, and it is a favorite amongst locals.

The culms are used for making furniture, but these aren’t really suited for construction.

Runner bamboos are categorized and specified solely on the basis of their rooting characteristics. There are primarily two kinds of “rhizome developments” on the runner bamboos. The runner bamboos exhibit monopodial or leptomorph rhizomes which are recognized for their unique, independent underground stems.

Runner bamboos can be found in almost all climatic conditions of the world.

We have discussed the different types of the runner bamboo in the next few sections for you to know all about.

  • Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo

The scientific name for the Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo is Pleioblastus, and it belongs to the East Asian genus of the monopodial bamboo. It is native to Japan and China; and could also be largely found in Korea, Europe, New Zealand and in the Western Hemisphere.

This species of the runner bamboo could be recognized by their chartreuse leaves with green stripes. These look beautiful in the seasons of early summer and spring.

The Dwarf Green Stripe is partly deciduous even during mild winters. This is why it is usually kept closely mowed to the ground in spring by gardeners in order to maintain its beauty.

This hardy runner bamboo is resistant to cold and could survive a temperature down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Some species can even grow in the unbelievably cold weather of Minnesota.

The backs of the bamboo leaves are covered with fine hair that makes the plant highly resistant to the onslaughts of mites and pests.

The plant flourishes underground via rhizomes, running along the surface of the soil and producing tiny plantlets at the nodes.

These can grow into new plants and could be propagated for the purpose. However, gardeners should be careful with the process because if they aren’t removed properly, these could become invasive.

  • Arrow Bamboo

The Pseudosasa Japonica or Japanese Arrow Bamboo gets its name from the hard canes of the bamboo that the Japanese Samurais used to make their arrows with.

The Arrow Bamboo is native to Korea and to the Japanese regions such as Honshu, and Kyushu.

The plant is also grown in 6-10 plant zones in the United States ranging from Florida to Southern Connecticut.

The Arrow Bamboo is a hardy, cold-resistant species that can survive temperatures till 0 degrees Fahrenheit/ -17.7 degrees Celcius.

The plant has palm-like leaves and can grow up to 5-13 inches. It is yellow-brown and could even survive in containers or in the salty air.

The Arundinaria Gigantea or the Giant Cane or simply the River Cane Bamboo is native to the South-Central and South-Eastern regions of the United States. These include Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas. The plant has two main subspecies, namely Arundinaria Gigantea, that is also called the switch cane plant and SSP.Gigante.

It is a perennial grass type and mainly grows in wet or humid conditions. The cane of the bamboo consists of a rounded, hollow stem that can reach a height ranging anywhere between 10m to 33 feet. The plant uses an expansive network formed of underground rhizomes to flourish.

This runner bamboo has lance-shaped leaves; the inflorescence of the plant has what are known as racemes or panicles. An individual bamboo cane can live up to a decade.

The River Cane bamboo blooms and seeds irregularly depending on the conditions of its environment.

This bamboo could be found growing in several different places as it is pretty common in oak, pine, cottonwood, ash and cypress forests. Many other plants such as the wax myrtle, creeping blueberry or the blue huckleberry use the River Cane bamboo as a support system.

The bamboo canes could be found at floodplains, bogs and savannas, picossins, riparian woods, pine barrens, and even more places. Although they are tolerant of wildlife, they flood rather easily.

The River Cane bamboo has always been popularly used by the Cherokee to make various objects such as basketry or for maintaining canebrakes through periodic cutting and burning.

The concentration of River Cane bamboos had significantly depleted after the European settlements which resulted in a near loss of the traditional art of Cherokee basket-making which is an essential part of the economy of the Cherokees to this day.

The bamboo was also largely used by indigenous people to make things like bows, medicines, walls, flutes, blowguns, knives, candles, fish traps, tobacco pipes, sleeping mats and so much more!

  • Black Bamboo

The scientific name for the Black Bamboo is Phyllostachys, and it belongs to the category of Asian bamboos. It is native to Central and Southern China and could also be broadly found in the Himalayan regions as well as the northern Indo-China regions.

Some species of the Black Bamboo have also adapted and flourished in other countries such as America, Australia, and Southern Europe.

The stem or “culm” of the black bamboo develops a noticeable groove known as the “sulcus” that runs along the entire length of each segment or inter-node of the plant.

The Black Bamboo could be identified by this unique groove or sulcus that also helps the plant to grow and spread through underground rhizomes vigorously.

This species of the Phyllostachys can grow up to 100 feet in height if provided with favorable conditions. The even larger species of the plant is known as the timber bamboo as they are often used for construction and to make furniture.

Several other species of the Black Bamboo are often used as ornamental plants even when they are an invasive species that requires to be grown in restricted areas or containers.

Certain species are also grown indoors as bonsais and are highly admired for their beauty.

One of the smartest things to have been ever invented for comfort living are bamboo fitted sheets that are made of 100% bamboo cotton. It is softer than the usual cotton and anti-microbial. And if you want to look up some real cool models of the same then do, by all means, stop by at this one-stop shop destination of luxury organic bamboo bedding and so much more in that department!

  • Hill Cane

The Arundinaria Appalachian or Hill Cane is a woody runner bamboo. It is native to the Appalachian Mountains in the South-Eastern United States.

The plant is comparatively a small member of its genus and grows only to a maximum height of 0.5-1.8 meter, having a diffuse or dense habit.

It is generally found at elevations of 300 to 800 meters, and at times up to 1065 meters.

It is actually one of the only three temperate bamboo species that are native to North America. The plant is commonly found on dry or “mesic” sites, especially on upland slopes, ridges or bluffs in forests consisting of oak and/or hickory.

The culms of the Hill Cane emerge from subterranean rhizomes. Hill Canes have leptomorph rhizomes that spread horizontally. However, these generally do not reach very far before developing a new culm.

These rhizomes, however, vary a tad bit in morphology than the typical one, in that they possess hollow centers with air canals. Also, the culms have internodes that are smooth and cylindrical, yet, a bit tapering.

The culm-sheaths on the bamboo usually do not shed, but they may eventually fall off late in winter. These “sheaths” generally span 5.5 to 11 cm in length with the oral “setae” measuring as short as 1 to 4.6 mm.

The blades on the culms appear at the highest point of the sheath and are way shorter than the foliage leaves measuring 0.8 to 1.4 cm.

The inflorescence or spikelets are usually of 3 to 5.5 cm long and are typically light reddish-purple in color, with each spikelet containing 5 to 8 florets.

Apart from being common in the Appalachian Mountains, the Hill Cane is also commonly found in upper Piedmont of the South-Eastern US in the Western Carolinas, South-Eastern Tennessee, North-Eastern Alabama, and Northern Georgia.

Conclusion

And with that, we have arrived at the very end of this extensive guide on all the different types of bamboo plants you could generally come across or want to plant indoors or around your house. While some could be easily placed at different places in your home, some others would be too massive in structure or evasive in nature to be brought in your residence.

But, a bit of knowledge in the department could help you identify and use the different types of bamboos for all the kinds of purposes that each is suited for!

We hope you liked our endeavor!

See you next time!

Bamboo Landscaping Guide: Design, Ideas, and Inspiration

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Bamboo scares some people because its nature is to grow…a lot.

In fact, some varieties of bamboo can grow up to three feet – in one day. Also, the running variety of bamboo is considered invasive with roots that grow like crazy to often take over your yard and the ones next to it. But – and there’s a big one coming – bamboo is one of the most beautiful, hardy, drought-and-pest-tolerant plants a homeowner can add to his yard.

Many bamboo types make perfect privacy screens, hedges, and ornamental landscapes that are other plants find hard to mimic, as long as you keep some important things in mind with regard to maintenance and containment.

What is Bamboo?

Bamboo is a perennial evergreen in the grass family. More than 1,200 different species grow around the world. Various species grow to heights of 100 feet or more. Bamboo is also one of the most abundant plant resources on the planet. It grows new shoots without replanting and can be harvested within five years for building materials and other resources as opposed to most trees that can take up to 75 years to grow to a usable size.

For landscaping purposes, it’s good to know that there are two main types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running bamboos are considered invasive because they spawn underground “runners” (called rhizomes) that extend away from the parent plant by large distances. Clumping bamboos produce a different type of underground rhizome that sprout new stems (culms) next to the original plant, which then expand slowly each year. Clumping bamboo is most often used in landscaping because although like all bamboos it’s dense, fast growing, and prunable, it doesn’t encroach as easily into other yards, push up foundations or driveways, or require heavy digging equipment to remove if it grows out of control. Clumping bamboo also comes in upright and arching versions.

Finally, bamboo grows up in the summer, and out (via new shoot production) in the spring and fall months. Bamboo tends to double in size every year.

Bamboo’s Landscaping Features

  • Bamboo lends visual interest and a striking design to a landscape given the dramatic height it can reach, as well as variation in leaf size, shape and color.
  • Bamboo doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers to grow and requires very little water as opposed to other plants.
  • Bamboo comes in hundreds of varieties, and in varying heights and colors for any number of landscaping applications.
  • Bamboo plants grow successfully in a range of climatic conditions.
  • Bamboo is easy to grow.
  • Bamboo is evergreen.
  • Bamboo is self-renewing.

How Bamboo is Used in Landscaping

Bamboo’s versatility and fast growth make it a natural for many landscape applications including (but certainly not limited to):

Privacy Screens

Probably the most common application in San Diego’s backyards, natural bamboo screens can be trimmed to desired heights and widths and grow quicker and taller than shrubs and hedges. Popular bamboo species used for this purpose include clumping varieties, Golden Bamboo and Dwarf Malay.

The only drawback for landscape gardeners is that these clumping bamboo don’t grow as tall as the more invasive running bamboo.

Wind Breaks

Although not as necessary in most of Southern California, wind breaks are often constructed using bamboo in many other parts of the world. Because bamboo is a flexible plant that can bend and sway in the strongest of winds, its use as a wind break is common in typhoon-prone areas and tropical locales experiencing heavy winds. However, fun fact: it’s been said that bamboo can offer refuge in the event of an earthquake due its ground-stabilizing root mass and low risk of falling branches.

Hedges

Bamboo also makes pretty hedges where privacy is not an issue. Opt for a more decorative landscaping appearance by maintaining the bamboo as a sheared hedge. Robusta is a good hedge bamboo because it reaches a height of 15 feet and is well suited for medium-high compact hedges. You can also prune this variety to keep it at lower heights if that’s the look you want. For smaller hedges, try Chishima Zasa.

Ground Cover

Several bamboo varieties reach maximum height of a few inches tall and are available in many beautiful colors, making them striking ground cover options. Keep in mind, that in “bamboo language,” ground cover bamboo varieties are those that grow under 10 feet. Ground covers can be used as focal points, for erosion control, or to cover challenging locations such as steep hillsides or banks. Popular ground cover options include Chino Elegant and Indocalamus Solidus.

Containers

If the container is large enough for the bamboo variety you choose, container grown bamboo is another landscaping option, but will usually reach smaller heights than the ratings listed for the species. Containers submerged in the ground, placed on your patio or even grouped around your yard perimeter for a hedge effect. Slender Weavers or Temple Bamboo do quite well in containers.

Alternative Uses

Environmentally friendly and durable bamboos are also used for patio furniture, fencing, edging, water features, and for ornamental areas such as zen gardens.

Clumping bamboo is also ideal for defining areas in a large yard. If you want a wall between the pool and a children’s play area, bamboo is a nice choice and can even cut down on noise.

Bamboo’s strength also lends itself to use as flooring, fencing, paneling, and wind chimes. Pound for pound, some species are as strong as steel, which makes this amazing grass very special indeed.

What to Consider Before Planting Clumping Bamboo

Size

Find out what size the bamboo’s mature clump will likely reach given the variety and growing conditions (i.e., varieties grown in containers may not reach the heights indicated). Also, some bamboos grow more upright than others and will assume less space at the same height.

Growing Conditions

Many bamboo varieties grow well in subtropical and temperate zones, although some clumping bamboo species are much more cold tolerant than others.

Use

If you’re growing bamboo for a particular reason such as a privacy screen or ground cover, choose that after you know what size your yard can accommodate and if the growing conditions are optimum.

Aesthetics

Consider the species’ appearance be it color, leaf shape/size, arching or upright growing inclinations and denseness in growing patterns and how it all delivers the look you want.

Growing Clumping Bamboo in Your Yard

Although clumping bamboos don’t spread as far as running bamboo, they need a good amount of room as they grow. So first, choose a planting spot that allows for plenty of growing space. Most importantly at this stage, don’t plant bamboos too near to fences, foundations, walls, or property lines to accommodate annual growth and widening of the clump’s diameter. To achieve a hedge effect, plant a row of evenly spaced plants with the number of plants needed dependent on the size and species of the bamboo.

Note that even if clumping bamboos can be grown in containers, they tend to stay healthier when allowed to grow free in soil. That’s because when the rhizome (or root) system grows too big for its container, the plant must be moved into a larger container and is even likely to break your pot eventually. Many clumping bamboos, in particular, the Bambusas, like full sun to partial shade and well drained soil.

When planting, dig a hole slightly larger than the size of the root ball and then place it at or slightly lower than the soil level around the hole. Fill the hole with a mix of your ground soil and compost. Water thoroughly and mulch around the plant to conserve moisture. Water regularly because although bamboo don’t like to remain in standing water, they prefer consistent moisture in the first year of growth especially. Regular, deep waterings using a soaker hose or drip irrigation are best. After the first year, your bamboo should be established and relatively drought tolerant. Be on the lookout for symptoms of overwatering such as yellowing/spotting of leaves.

Bamboo can survive without fertilizer, but it can make a difference in growth and appearance, so if you like, use composted manure in early spring and early fall. Bamboo loves nitrogen-rich fertilizers. In Southern California, palm fertilizers will work well for subtropical clumping bamboos.

How often you prune depends on what you’re using the bamboo for (hedges, etc.) and personal preference. When removing canes, cut them as close to ground level as you can. For best growth, do not prune out more than one-third of the canes a year.

Root pruning can help control the spread of rhizomes and is accomplished by working the soil around the bamboo with a sharp spade and removing errant rhizomes. A general rule of thumb is to root prune rhizomes to about two feet from the parent plant.

Common Clumping Varieties Used for Landscaping

Alphonse Karr

This species has golden culms (bamboo stems) striped with green. This variety can grow as high as 30 feet and is often used for privacy screens.

Giant Buddha’s Belly

This bamboo type features bulging (“Buddha belly” culms and long, narrow green leaves, and can grow up to 50 feet.

Murray Island

This type of bamboo forms dense clumps with lighter green, textured leaves and its lush top growth also make it ideal for privacy screens. It grows up to 13 feet in height.

Chinese Dwarf Bamboo

Compact and lush, this variety lends itself better to pot planting than other clumping species. Chinese Dwarf Bamboo is also a popular hedge choice and can grow up to nine feet tall.

Timor Black Bamboo

This clumping form of black bamboo has light green leaves and dark culms with lighter stripes. It grows upwards of 50 feet.

Golden Goddess

Golden Goddess is another species preferred for privacy screens or to mark borders and perimeters. It grows to about 10 feet tall.

If You Choose Running Bamboo, Contain it

Use a Barrier

To keep running bamboo from spreading to other parts of your property where you don’t want it to grow, you’ll need to install ground barriers. The best material for this purpose is high density polyethylene plastic measuring between 30-60 mils. This will allow the barrier to act as a root stop, and prevent rampant growth.

Dig a Trench

Dig a trench dig a trench 8 to 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep around the perimeter of the area where you want to contain the bamboo. The trench’s depth should be 2″ less than the depth of the barrier. Insert the barrier into the trench and overlap by four feet where the two ends meet. Seal the seams vertically with double-sided tape to stop the rhizome from breaking through the seams. Make sure the top of the barrier remains 2″ above the soil. This will make it easier to cut the rhizomes back before they jump over the barrier.

Position the Barrier

Angle the barrier away from the area that you are containing so rhizomes or new bamboo is not directed down and under the barrier.

Prepare the Trench

Pack the bottom of the trench with hard clay before filling with dirt.

Maintain

Once your barrier has been installed, monitor the area and clip away any young bamboo encroaching near the area.

Final Thoughts

Bamboo is a gorgeous, functional, and eco-friendly addition to any yard. What’s been your experience with bamboo or are you considering adding it to your landscape?

Photo credits: Houzz; when clicked images will lead to original links.

Do you think bamboo looks amazing? Check out our ten landscaping ideas that incorporate live bamboo into your garden.

Bamboo is an exotic plant that can be seen in many gardens. They are extremely durable plants that you can see as hedges and other barriers within a garden. Most varieties grow to be extremely tall, and even though they can be trimmed from the top, most grow to be well above three feet in height. This guide is designed to give you the tips that you need to grow bamboo in your garden as well as show you a few ideas that will inspire you to incorporate bamboo into your outside décor. Because bamboo grows to be such a large plant, many have concerns that bamboo that is growing in their garden will overtake the other plants living there. Let’s take a look at the growth pattern of a bamboo plant and consider ways to control it.

Growth Rate of a Bamboo Plant

Planting bamboo about three to five feet apart will produce a dense wall of plant life. Even if there seems like there is plenty of space between the plants, the bamboo will grow stronger and taller each year. Depending on the type of bamboo that you plant, a year could result in one to five feet of new growth. Let’s say that your newly planted bamboo plants are about eight feet tall with three to four stalks apiece, next year the plants will have at least seven stalks that are ten feet tall. The following year you will see 17 to 20 stalks that are ten feet high, and year four results in about 60 stalks that are over 15 feet high. Each year this pattern continues, until there is no longer room in your garden for other plants.

Controlling the Spread of Bamboo

As you can see, bamboo growth needs to be controlled. You can ensure that the bamboo does not spread too far by planting it inside of a barrier. I really love creating my own bamboo planter to place in my garden out of harvested bamboo stalks. To do this you will need to find a tall straight stalk of bamboo and harvest it using pruners that can easily cut through the plant.

The other way to keep your bamboo plant’s growth under control is to prune the plants regularly. The best way to trim your bamboo garden is to do so from the top where the stems are more narrow and easy to manage. I have found that having a dedicated bamboo trimmer for this purpose ensures that you can quickly trim your bamboo plants with ease.

Now that you know how to better handle bamboo that is growing in your garden, let’s take a look at some bamboo landscaping ideas.

1. Bamboo Wall Accents

Bamboo is used in this idea in two different ways. It is first used to create a more three dimensional wall that stands out and looks amazing against the wood in this garden. Secondly, there are also live bamboo plants that bring life to the corner of the garden. I love the white stones and the way that they bring contrast to the wooden décor of the space

2. Bamboo Hedge

Everyone likes to have a bit of privacy in their back yard, and this bamboo idea creates a perfect hedge-like design that will give you just that. The hedge is narrow, so it does not overwhelm the space, but it provides a good bit of cover.

3. Bamboo Edging

Source: Houzz

Sometimes having a fence between your yard and the neighbors can seem cold and take away from the garden feeling that you want to achieve. This idea helps to cover the fence and create a warmer feeling.

4. Perfection Atop the Wall

This bamboo landscape idea is phenomenal. It gives more height to the white wall without making too much of a footprint in the garden itself. To keep this idea functional, it will need to be pruned rather frequently.

5. Bamboo Eatery

This little eatery in this garden is adorable. It is a small table for two that is shaded by a forest of rather large bamboo trees. The grass can be seen around the bricks in the pavement, which creates a cozy secret garden feel.

6. Pathway to Paradise

The bamboo in this next idea is positioned in a manner that enhances the walkway to this home. The trees are beautifully trimmed, and the garden lights along the edge of the path create a unique glow that helps the design flow perfectly.

7. Cozy Corner with Bamboo

A garden is not complete without a place to relax and take in its beauty. This raised platform is surrounded by bamboo plants and vines that create a sense of warmth and love that makes this the perfect location to entertain guests. I love the design on the vases that the bamboo is planted in because it adds a sense of style to the décor.

8. Wooden Planters of Bamboo

Source: Bamboo Rescue

As we already stated, planters are the perfect way to control bamboo growth, and this idea has perfected this concept. The rectangular planters will help shape the bamboo into the perfect hedge-like shape as it grows to create a beautiful cover between the yards.

9. Nature Encased in Glass

If you have an area in your home that houses an indoor garden like the one that is pictured here, then you have the perfect contained area where you can grow a bamboo forest that you do not need to prune. If the ceiling of the space is open, it will grow taller and denser with each passing year.

10. A Small Bamboo Garden

Source: Houzz Home

This home is perfect for a bamboo garden. The beautiful wooden exterior that you want to see is on the second story, but the concrete ground floor is greatly enhanced by the small bamboo garden along the home. You will need to keep the bamboo trimmed with this idea, to keep it from blocking the view of your home from the curb.

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A Guide to Selecting & Growing Bamboo in Your Garden

Timeless Symbol of Exotic Lands…or the Backyard By Paul Whittaker

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Forest plants of old, bamboos evoke images of another continent, but with the impact they can have on our landscape, it may feel more like another planet. Here are some selections from the temperate regions of the East that are adaptable and versatile in the West. Though not giants of the jungle, they will grow happily in most gardens. Out of a hundred genera and 15 times more species of bamboo, at least one-fifth are “hardy,” coming from cooler climes where they can endure seasonal extremes of heat and cold. La Bambouseraie in Anduze, France, a bamboo garden and nursery where many of these photographs were taken, has a climate that allows some of the giant timber bamboos (used for construction) to reach the majestic proportions they do in the wild. Should you not be blessed with a Mediterranean climate, however, have no fear—you can still grow bamboo successfully, only missing out on the substantial height and the forestlike habit. Cooler gardens will produce shorter, more refined but well-structured specimens.

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Phyllostachys edulis

Shown in all its mature glory at La Bambouseraie in France. A timber bamboo of great eminence in its native China, where it reaches forestlike proportions. The ghostly gray-green culms are enhanced by the dark, forbidding background. This junglelike scene, complete with palms and creepers, belies the hardiness of bamboos—in their homelands many types are covered in snow during the winter months. (Zones 6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Phyllostachys edulis ‘Heterocycla’

Known as the tortoise-shell bamboo because of the slanted and congested nodal formations at the base of its culms. The cultivar is not as tolerant of cooler regions as the straight species P. edulis, but worthy of a challenge. (Zones 8-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Phyllostachys nigra

Unique black-caned bamboo is a striking addition to any collection. A sunny location quickly brings out the black color on the young culms, which emerge green. (Zones 6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Phyllostachys bissetii

Introduced in 1941 and one of the best for hedging, screening and quick shelter. The vivid green culms and dark foliage are unperturbed by a harsh winter. (Zones 5/6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Phyllostachys violascens

Dark-purple shoots later form giant, lustrous green culms that become striped violet and yellow with age. Needs ample room to display its wares, eventually forming a large colony. (Zones 6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Pseudosasa japonica ‘Tsutsumiana’

Some of the shorter bamboos can be successfully confined to pots, but don’t forget to water them. Use heavy compost for stability but with good drainage. Surround with a few sea-washed pebbles and twisted timber for a landscape in miniature, proving you don’t need a large garden to grow bamboo. The leafy Japanese type used here is also known as the green-onion bamboo because the culms can be swollen on mature plants. (Zones 5/6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Sasa palmata forma Nebulosa

The tropical appearance of this lush Japanese bamboo contrasts with its hardiness. Beware of its aggression—it can romp through your garden like an advancing army. Well worth the risk if controlled. (Zones 4-9)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Shibataea kumasaca

Short species that looks great in a pot or as underplanting for taller specimens. Pointed leaves emerge from thin zigzag culms to provide a squat but spiky appearance. Uniform winter bleaching of the leaf tips is highly ornamental. (Zones 5-9)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Pleioblastus fortunei (syn. P. variegatus)

Dwarf grassy bamboo equally at home in a pot as in the garden. Can be sheared or clipped to encourage the freshest growth and the brightest color. (Zones 5-9)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Sasa veitchii

Prized for its winter effect. The margins of the leaves pale to a creamy silver as winter cold sets in. Short ground cover that can be sheared to the ground in spring to provide fresh new growth. (Zones 6-10)

Photo by: Andrea Jones.

Thamnocalamus crassinodus

Recently introduced clumping species from the Himalayas with noteworthy cultivars such as ‘Kew Beauty’, ‘Lang Tang’ and ‘Merlyn’, all with pale blue culms forming on mature plants. Tiny delicate leaves will benefit from some shade and humidity in arid air, but in cooler coastal areas they will perform effortlessly, maturing into tight clumps of unique coloring with the froth of the foliage held high. (Zones 7-9)

Appeal: For tropical or Asian ambience. Quick growing, long-lived, easy to maintain. In tight growing clumps or grove-forming colonies, culms (canes) in many colors, with grooves, stripes, knobbles and swellings galore. Ideal for cutting and decoration. Leaves range in appearance from tiny and needle-like to variegated to massive plates of glossy green.

Zones: Most temperate bamboos tolerate harsher conditions than their given hardiness zones once established; young plants are more vulnerable. Excessive heat, aridity and exposure have to be considered also. Generally Zones 6-9 are best for most species, but microclimates can allow experimentation.

Exposure: Some large-cane bamboos like phyllostachys can take hot gales or winter blizzards, as in their native China. Sasa from the maritime climate of Japan and thamnocalamus from the foothills of the Himalayas relish cooler coastal and more montane areas; with a little shade and extra moisture they can be tried almost anywhere.

Soil: Hardy bamboos are adaptable. Avoid dry and desertlike soils or swamps. However, dry sandy soils can be amended with organic matter, and waterlogged soils can be drained. Clay can be broken with sharp sand to allow the bamboo to penetrate. Bamboos can prevent erosion on slopes, and they grow in a wide range of pH—except the extremes of acid or alkaline.

Video: Bamboo Plants for an Outdoor Privacy Screen

See how bamboo can be used to screen the perimeter of a small garden and get tips for selecting the best bamboo plants.

Care: Young plants establish more quickly than huge specimens. Water new plants during the first two summers. In dry climates or during drought, water even established bamboo twice a week (it’s hard to over water bamboo during a hot summer). Keep roots cool and moist with a mulch of rotted organic matter, which provides nutrients. In time, fallen leaves and sheathes provide all the mulch and food required. Remove old and weak culms; prune low branches to show colorful culms. To control running bamboos, chop off runners periodically; barriers are not always effective and can be unsightly (learn more about barriers for bamboo).

Designing with bamboo

  • Large, bold evergreens and vivid variegations will complement your bamboos.
  • Plants with a similar structure, such as Miscanthus sinensis, Arundo donax and phormium accentuate the vertical habit of bamboos.
  • Use simple hardscape materials that suit your environment to provide a naturalistic, ethereal setting. Flickering leaf shadows on a swathe of pebbles is often more rewarding than a congestion of plant material. Use bamboo to contrast with or soften fencing or a pergola.
  • Bamboo is suitable for gardens large or small, balconies, roof gardens, raised beds, containers, mazes, hedges, screens and to create secret areas.

PAUL WHITTAKER IS THE AUTHOR OF HARDY BAMBOOS: TAMING THE DRAGON (TIMBER PRESS, 2005, 300 PAGES, $39.95)

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Designing with Bamboo

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