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Books on Bamboo|
Crafting & Wood Working Tools
Fascinating Facts about Bamboo|
How Bamboos Grow
Clumping and Running Bamboos
Containment of Bamboo
Rhizome Barrier Installation
Flowering of Bamboos
How and When to Plant
Site and Soil Preparation
Fertilizers for Bamboo
Watering of Bamboo
Possible Bamboo Pests
Bamboo Plant Selection
Removal of Bamboo
Books on Bamboo
To order books, click on the title, or click "Books on Bamboo" in the "Product Prices" menu.
Bamboo for Gardens by Ted Jordan Meredith Excellent reference book describing over 300 bamboos and their requirements, with 140 pages of species and photos, some from Bamboo Sourcery. Hardbound.
Building Bamboo Fences by Isao Yoshikawa How-to-book, showcasing 20 traditional Japanese bamboo fence styles in color photographs and detailed instructional diagrams, illustrating bamboo working techniques, ties and knots, and joinery. Softcover.
Farming Bamboo by Daphne Lewis & Carol Miles Finally! A great book on commercial farming of bamboo! Takes the reader from planting through harvest and marketing of poles and shoots, in fine detail. Softcover.
Ornamental Bamboos A gardener's guide to nearly 200 ornamental bamboos, based on the author's experience in a cool-temperature climate in Hampshire, England, where his nursery holds the National Collection of Bamboos for the U.K. Emphasis is on the unique qualities of bamboo, uses for bamboo, and plants recommended for specific landscaping purposes. Incl. 171 pgs of species descriptions & color photos. Hardbound.
Practical Bamboos Proposes imaginative design and landscaping ideas, and puts these dynamic, rewarding plants within easy reach.
by Paul Whitaker
The Craft & Art of Bamboo by Carol Stangler Beautiful Asian designs for Japanese fences, gates, screens, home and garden accents, with photos and lists of tools and suppliers. Softcover.
The Gardener's Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboos by Michael Bell SOLD OUTAn excellent, concisely written reference book for the gardener, including 58 pages of species descriptions and color photos. Hardbound.
Timber Press Pocket Guide to Bamboos by Ted Jordan Meredith Packed with all the authority of an encyclopedia in a pocket-size format, this book is a perfect reference for taking to the nursery, or if you are a landscaper it is great for sharing quick visuals with your clients. Covers 300 species in 35 genera. Softcover. 208 pages
We do not ship poles. Point-of-sale purchases only.
Pole width tapers from end to end. The diameters below refer to the wider end. No pole is perfectly straight. Bamboo is extremely strong, however cracks can and do appear lengthwise with age and dryness. We know of no way to prevent this.
1" diam x 6' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $5.00
1" diam x 6' Black Poles (Leopard Bamboo) $8.25
1" diam x 8' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $7.00
1" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $8.00
1" diam x 12' Black Poles (Leopard Bamboo) $10.75
1.5" diam x 8' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $14.75
1.5" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $19.00
1.5" diam x 12' Black Poles (Leopard Bamboo) $22.00
2" diam x 8' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $21.00
2" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $35.00
2" diam x 12' Black Poles (Leopard Bamboo) $29.75
3" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $56.25
4" diam x 8' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $60.25
4" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $70.25
5" diam x 8' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $65.00
5" diam x 12' Yellow Poles (Tonkin Cane) $71.50
Adjustable Spout & Pump: 12" Attractive and practical design with an adjustable base. With the adjustable base, the spouts can be raised or lowered to the perfect fit. This water feature provides more sound than other fountain kits and can help mask traffic noise and other distractions.
Adjustable Spout & Pump: 18" Attractive and practical design with an adjustable base. With the adjustable base, the spouts can be raised or lowered to the perfect fit. This water feature provides more sound than other fountain kits and can help mask traffic noise and other distractions.
Spout & Pump: 12" three arm 12" Three-Arm spout produces a deep, rich sound from its wide water flow, with no splashing. Because the spout sits near the surface of the water, it works well even in shallow containers. This makes it ideal for indoor or tabletop fountains.
Spout & Pump: 18" three arm 18" Three-Arm spout produces a deep, rich sound from its wide water flow, with no splashing. Because the spout sits near the surface of the water, it works well even in shallow containers. This makes it ideal for indoor or tabletop fountains. The large sized Three-Arm fountain kit creates a statement that will enhance any garden scene. Pair it with a large container to create a symphony of water.
Fertilizer 16-6-8 Fertilizer 16-6-8, 5 lbs. High nitrogen for green leaves, for in ground plants only.
Fertilizer 6-24-24 Fertilizer 6-24-24, 5 lbs. For growth of roots and shoots, in ground plants only
Fertilizer BioFlora Crumbles 6-6-5+8% Ca Fertilizer 6-6-5+8% Ca Organic
Fertilizer 15-15-15 Simplot Fertilizer 15-15-15 Simplot, 5 lbs. 4 mo. slow release for potted plants.
Bamboo Hatchet Bamboo Hatchet Oak Handle 6.5"
Bamboo Splitter 4 Way Bamboo Splitter 4 Way
Bamboo Splitter 5 Way Bamboo Splitter 5 Way
Bamboo Splitter 6 Way Bamboo Splitter 6 Way
Bamboo Splitter 8 Way Bamboo Splitter 8 Way
Brad Point Drill Bit Set 7 pc 12" Cal Hawk Brad Point Drill Bit Set 7 pc 12"
Gyokucho Bamboo Saw Gykucho Fugaku Bamboo Saw 270mm 10.5'
Gyokucho Folding Saw (Fine) Gyokucho Folding Saw / Fine 250mm 10"
Gyokucho Pruning Saw Gyokucho Fugaku Kajyu Pruning Saw 270mm 10.5"
Mikihisa Folding Knife Mikihisa Folding Knife 2.75"
Palm Rope Palm Rope / Brown 330'
Gyokucho Folding Saw (All Purpose) Gyokucho Folding Saw / All purpose 250mm 10"
2'W x 2'L x 18"D Redwood Planter Box
2'W x 3'L x 18"D Redwood Planter Box
2'W x 4'L x 18"D Redwood Planter Box
Gift Certificates We will pay the taxes on any Gift Certificate purchased by Christmas! Call Bamboo Sourcery to order at 707-823-5866.
Our Bamboo Price List is always accessible on our website and is also available by mail upon request. Our Price List is updated frequently and includes information about size, running/clumping type, sun exposure, cold tolerance, maximum heights possible in their ideal native environments, and current availability for each plant. Prices are listed for the smaller size containers (1 gal and 5 gal), suitable for shipping anywhere in the country.
This entire Information Supplement can be printed from our website (see Printable Versions for Part I and Part II.
The nursery and gardens, located 1¼ hrs drive north of San Francisco, is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., drop-ins are welcome, appointments recommended. If you wish to make an appointment, please call (707) 823-5866.
Helps Reverse Global Warming: Incredible and true, bamboo produces the MOST OXYGEN of all the plants! And it CONSUMES MORE CARBON DIOXIDE than any other plant!
Sustainably Harvested & Annually Renewable: Mature bamboos produce new shoots and canes each year, which can be harvested individually without destroying the plant.
Fastest Growing Plant on the Planet: New shoots of some tropical species have been clocked growing up to 4 FEET PER DAY in their shooting season!
Environmental Cleanup: Bamboo plants are very effective at removing metals and other toxic substances from soils and water.
Diverse: There are over 1500 SPECIES of bamboo in the world.
Stronger Than Steel: Bamboo has a TENSILE STRENGTH of 28,000 per square inch, vs. 23,000 for steel.
Provides Safe Housing: Over 1 billion people in the world live in BAMBOO HOUSES. Bamboo buildings have proven to be exceedingly earthquake proof.
Nutrition for Humans and Animals: BAMBOO SHOOTS have been eaten throughout Asia for centuries, and branches and leaves make good fodder for animals. It contains Germanium, which reverses the aging process in cells.
Ancient Healing: Various parts of many bamboo species have been used in CHINESE AND AYURVEDIC MEDICINE for centuries.
Did You Know? Thomas Edison used bamboo filaments in his first LIGHT BULBS, and one of those bulbs is STILL burning today at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC!
Hardy: Bamboo was the first PLANT LIFE to return after the atomic bombings in Japan. Also, some bamboos are cold hardy to -20 degrees F.
Bamboos grow in fits and starts. For much of the year nothing much appears to be happening, and then in one brief season they explode with growth. In general, the first year or two after transplanting, you will not see tremendous above-ground growth, as the plant is putting most of its energy into its root system.
During the summer and fall, most species manufacture and store sugars in their rhizomes. Rhizomes produce the roots, top growth, and new rhizomes. Then in spring and sometimes fall, they pump the accumulated energy into new shoots (culms), which achieve all of their height in about 30-60 days. The branches and leaves develop in another 30-60 days. Shoots of some species in mature groves in tropical climates have actually been clocked growing 4 feet in one 24-hour period! As a young plant's rhizome system expands, its ability increases to produce larger, taller, and more numerous culms. Thus, each year's crop of shoots is larger than the last, until the mature size for the species is reached and new culms continue to come up at the mature size. This may take a number of years, depending on the size and age of the original planting, the species, and the growing conditions.
Individual culms and rhizomes only live an average of 5-10 years, and the culms grow no taller or bigger with age. That is why the older parts of the plant are frequently the smallest. Old or dead culms can be thinned out to make more light available for new growth.
The shooting period varies from species to species and genus to genus. In general, the temperate climate bamboos are runners, which shoot in the spring, while the tropical and sub-tropical varieties are clumpers, which shoot in the late summer and fall.
The size and appearance of any particular bamboo variety may vary significantly depending upon climate and conditions. Size alone is greatly affected by location, temperature, nutrition, water, and sun exposure.
There are two main types of bamboo: Noninvasive clumping bamboos (sympodial or pachymorph) have short roots and form discrete clumps. There are also a few species of clumpers which have slightly longer roots (6-18"), and we refer to these as open clumpers. Running bamboos (monopodial or leptomorph) are the ones that spread through the growth of long, horizontal roots, called rhizomes. With a little knowledge and proper materials, running bamboos and open clumpers can be effectively contained. The information in this catalog will enable you to grow beautiful, well-behaved bamboo.
Clumping bamboos have a very short root structure, are genetically incapable of expanding more than few inches a year, and will generally form discrete circular clumps. The clumps slowly enlarge as new culms emerge every year, but may ultimately need to expand to anywhere from a 3 to 10 ft. diameter (or more, especially for taller types) in order to reach their mature height, depending on species. The dense root system can exert strong pressure on structures in contact with it, and thus clumpers should be planted at some distance from fences, sidewalks, retaining walls, etc. Clumpers make excellent specimen plants and will also form very dense screens, but more slowly than runners. Except for the Fargesias, clumpers tend to be less cold-hardy than runners.
Running bamboos spread variously, sending out underground runners (rhizomes) which sometimes range far from the parent plant. Runners fill in the spaces between plantings faster, making them ideal for fast screens, hedges, and the popular open grove look. Bamboo runners may be easily contained, since the rhizomes grow sideways at a depth of only about 2-18 inches. Most are also very cold-hardy.
RUNNERS VS CLUMPERS - CHOOSING THE BEST TYPE FOR YOUR NEEDS:
We provide here some tips and criteria for choosing between runners and clumpers for a given purpose or planting location. These are very general guidelines and there can always be exceptions, depending on the situation.
Runners are recommended for:
Please see Containment of Bamboo for a complete explanation of methods of containment. And see our Price List for the many available clumping bamboos (designated by the code "C"), open clumpers ("O"), and running bamboos ("R") that we offer.
Runners: Runners should generally be contained if on a property line or in a small yard, even if bordered by surface structures such as brick or cement patio, cement sidewalk or driveway, or shallow walls. The safest methods for containing running bamboos are:
1) Planting in containers Click the following link for details in a printable Microsoft Word document: Bamboo in Planters and Containers - Do's, Don'ts and Special Maintenance Considerations.
2) Installing high-density polyethylene plastic rhizome barrier, 60-80 mil thick and 27-34 inches deep, vertically around the perimeter of the area in which the bamboo is to be contained. This material is thicker than a credit card and comes on a 200 - 300 ft. roll in different widths, 30" x 60 mil, 36" x 60 mil , 30" x 80 mil and 36" x 80 mil. It can be cut to any length and installed in any shape desired. Even large plantings of bamboo can be surrounded with a single length of plastic, requiring only one seam. The polyethylene is superior to cement and metal (cement often develops cracks, and metal rusts and requires many seams), is less expensive, and can last 20-30 years when installed according to our barrier installation instructions. We typically recommend using the 30" barrier for most plants in the Phyllostachys genus.
Note: When planting along a fenceline, if there is sufficient space it is advisable to leave an 18-24 inch corridor between the fence and the bamboo barrier to allow a space for maintenance along the back side of the planting area. Also, when planting on very steep slopes or planting very large giant timber runners in soft, sandy soil, it may be necessary to use a 36" deep root barrier.
Less defined ways to contain runners are:
3) Water only the area in which the plants are wanted and nowhere else within 10 to 20 feet (in climates that have several dry months). Dry soils are a barrier to root growth. Spreading rhizomes require moisture and grow primarily during the warm summer months when most of the western states are dry. Cutting off new shoots coming up wherever they’re not wanted complements and completes this method.
4) A water-filled stream or ditch can also effectively contain the spread of bamboo, since rhizomes and roots cannot tolerate extended periods of saturation. Water need only be present for one season a year.
In some situations it is easiest to wait and see if there is going to be a problem before implementing containment measures. Many species require 3 years of growth before they begin to spread. Some running bamboos behave as clumpers under certain circumstances, such as lack of exposure to sun or very cold winter temperatures. On a large property where invasion of neighboring land or other parts of a garden are not issues, one may simply let the rhizomes go where they wish and remove new cane shoots by breaking them off if they emerge in any areas where canes are not desired. The tender shoots of larger species may also be harvested for food when just breaking ground. Since the rhizomes generally grow quite shallow, usually within the top 12 inches of soil, roots may also be curbed annually by cutting with a shovel and pulling them out while still young. The hazards of bamboo cultivation are often overstated.
With a certain amount of muscle power and the necessary tools, removal of bamboo IS possible. We also occasionally remove unwanted bamboo free of charge upon request, if we have time and have a use for it. If further advice or clarification is needed, please call Bamboo Sourcery.
With clumpers, it is not necessary or effective to surround the plant with a plastic root barrier. However, when selecting clumpers and planning the space, one must keep in mind that the root ball of a clumper must be allowed to reach a certain size in order to grow culms of a mature height. The circular space required may vary from 3 to 10 ft. in diameter, or more, depending on size of species. Clumpers cannot adjust their circular shape to a long, narrow space, and height of culms may be limited if too small a space is allowed for the roots.
In addition, clumpers may be shaped and prevented from putting pressure on any surrounding structures (such as a fence or sidewalk) by removing new shoots at soil level when they begin to encroach more closely on those structures. It is advisable to plant a clumping bamboo 2-4 ft. from a fence to allow some room for growth, top spread, and space for maintenance between the bamboo and the fence.
For more information about "Runners vs Clumpers: Choosing the Best Type for your Needs," please see Clumping and Running Bamboos.
Rhizome Barrier Installation Instructions Rhizome Barrier Installation Instructions
Please read and follow these directions carefully. Although installing root barrier takes a bit of work, if done correctly it will require very minimal maintenance and reward you with many years of well-behaved bamboo.
For containing running types of bamboo we have found that our polypropylene root barrier works better than any other material, such as sheet metal or concrete. Concrete cracks and has a rough surface on which the rhizomes can get a purchase and break through. Sheet metal requires several seams and will rust, leaving the way open for bamboo "escapees.” Wood is not strong enough and will rot.
If you are planting a clumping type of bamboo, installing barrier is unnecessary and can actually cause maintenance problems down the road. For further information on the special maintenance needs of clumpers, see Containment of Bamboo.
Our polypropylene plastic barrier comes in various widths and thicknesses; what is recommended for your situation depends upon a number of factors. If you have soft sandy/loamy soil, are installing on a steep slope or are planting certain species of bamboo (especially aggressive runners or giant timber types) we will recommend a deeper and sometimes thicker rhizome barrier. Please ask our staff what is best for your situation and for special instructions if your site is on a steep slope or has sandy/loamy soil.
One of the advantages of this thick but flexible barrier is that you can create a screen or grove of bamboo of any shape. It is most effective when enough space is provided for your particular species of bamboo. Speaking in broad generalities, for small to mid-sized bamboos, define an area that is no narrower than 2 feet wide (4 feet is much better!). For larger species allow for even more space. Trying to confine your bamboo to a very small area makes for unhealthy, stunted bamboo that can become root-bound very quickly and put unnecessary stress on your barrier. Generally the larger the area provided, the happier your bamboo will be.
We also recommend leaving a minimum of 12 to 24 inches of space between the edge of your barrier and any existing structures such as fences, buildings, or sidewalks. This allows for maintenance access, which you will need to prune, check your barrier edge and to maintain your structure if that need ever arises.
When you install your barrier, it is important to leave 2 inches protruding above ground level. Bamboo rhizomes sometimes come up to the surface and then dive back down again, hopping over the edge of the barrier. For this reason we recommend you check around the entire edge of your barrier once or twice a year and clear any leaf-litter or soil build-up. Once cleared it is easy to spot and cut any rhizomes before they escape over the top and get established.
As a service to our customers we offer barrier at close to cost when over $250 of bamboo is purchased. We offer 30 and 36 inch deep barrier in both 60 mil and 80 mil thick. For light weight jobs such as groundcovers or the lining of boxes, 24 inch by 40 mil thick is also offered. All barriers are made of 100% post consumer recycled content.
Begin by digging a narrow, exactly vertical, trench around the perimeter of the area in which you wish to keep the bamboo contained, avoiding sharp angled corners if possible. If using 30" polypropylene rhizome barrier, the trench needs to be 28” deep; for 36” barrier, the trench should be 34” deep, etc., so that 2” of the barrier remains above ground.
Insert the barrier into the trench, making sure it remains vertical (no angling in or out). Minimize the number of seams if possible and be sure to overlap the barrier 12 inches where the two ends meet (or at any seam). Be sure there is no soil in between the overlapped layers. Use our strapping system to secure the barrier seam, as illustrated. This system is basically just 2 metal straps sandwiching the overlapped area and bolted securely. It creates an effective seal and prevents the rhizomes from doing an "S" curve through the seam.
Back fill the barrier, being sure to maintain the vertical orientation and again maintaining 2 inches of barrier above ground level, and pack the soil as firmly as possible. You want to make this area as inhospitable as possible, so using heavy clay soils to back fill, especially in the bottom half of your trench is actually ideal.
Now you are done and can plant your running bamboo screen or grove within the contained area with ease of mind. May you and your bamboo flourish!
If you have questions, please feel free to call us.
© Bamboo Sourcery, 2016
24" x 40 mil Plastic Rhizome Barrier 24" wide x 40 mil. thick polyethylene, priced per foot. If surrounding your bamboo completely, add 4-5' to overlap the ends. You may also purchase 2-sided tape with polypropylene glue to seal the ends together. Order tape from menu to the left - one roll will be sufficient for 2 seams. ($.20/foot will be added to shipping cost for states east of the Mississippi.)
30" x 60 mil Plastic Rhizome Barrier 30" wide x 60 mil. thick polyethylene, priced per foot. If surrounding your bamboo completely, add 4-5' to overlap the ends. You may also purchase 2-sided tape with polypropylene glue to seal the ends together. Order tape from menu to the left - one roll will be sufficient for 2 seams. ($.20/foot will be added to shipping cost for states east of the Mississippi.)
36" x 60 mil Plastic Rhizome Barrier 36" x 60 mil. thick polyethylene, priced per foot. If surrounding your bamboo completely, add 4-5' to overlap the ends. You may also purchase 2-sided tape with polypropylene glue to seal the ends together. Order tape from menu to the left - one roll will be sufficient for 2 seams. ($.20/foot will be added to shipping cost for states east of the Mississippi.)
30" x 80 mil Plastic Rhizome Barrier 30" wide x 80 mil. thick polyethylene, priced per foot. If surrounding your bamboo completely, add 4-5' to overlap the ends. You may also purchase 2-sided tape with polypropylene glue to seal the ends together. Order tape from menu to the left - one roll will be sufficient for 2 seams. ($.20/foot will be added to shipping cost for states east of the Mississippi.)
36" x 80 mil Plastic Rhizome Barrier 36" wide x 80 mil. thick polyethylene, priced per foot. If surrounding your bamboo completely, add 4-5' to overlap the ends. You may also purchase 2-sided tape with polypropylene glue to seal the ends together. Order tape from menu to the left - one roll will be sufficient for 2 seams. ($.20/foot will be added to shipping cost for states east of the Mississippi.)
2-Sided Tape for sealing barrier 2-Sided Tape with polyethylene glue for sealing barrier, 10 ft. roll
One of the mysteries of bamboo is how some species are able to flower periodically all over the world at the same time. This is called “gregarious flowering.” This was the case with Phyllostachys bambusoides when it flowered during the 1970's, as it has done every 120 years through recorded bamboo history. Being an important timber variety, records of its flowering go back many centuries. To our knowledge, no one knows what triggers the flowering. While the flowering of some bamboos is periodic, others seem to be triggered by environmental conditions such as drought or stress. We do not sell plants that we know to be going into "gregarious flowering" stage, however we also do not have records adequate to predict when most species will flower. Flowering of the individual plant may continue for 2 to 7 years and is often fatal, but with extra care and feeding, the mother plant may survive and just be smaller. In addition, the numerous seeds may be planted and will reproduce the mother plant identically or produce new and interesting variations. By the time the mother plant finishes flowering, you may already have new seedlings well on their way!
Bamboos belong to the grass family, and their flowers look a lot like the flowers of other grasses, usually nothing spectacular, but quite varied. Traditionally, botanists describe species on the basis of their flowers. Because the flowering interval of some bamboo species is so long, botanists in the field often have difficulty finding flowers and defining species on that basis. This sometimes results in multiple names for the same plant and a great deal of confusion. Promising genetic research and international cooperation should help clarify the situation.
There are no hard and fast rules about planting bamboo. But we offer the following guidelines:
Bamboos grow best in rich, moist, well-drained soils. Often the addition of compost or other additives is beneficial (see section below). Place the plant at approximately the same soil level as it is in the pot, in a hole somewhat larger than the pot. After filling in around the plant, pack the soil firmly to eliminate air bubbles and soak thoroughly. Through the first year, make sure the plant remains moist but not waterlogged. Do not fertilize for the first 6 months. Plants have been fertilized at the nursery, and additional fertilizer at this point could shock the plant.
The best time to plant varies from area to area and species to species. In cold winter climates the best planting time is in the spring when likelihood of frost is past and when the ground can be worked. Bamboos do not develop their full cold-hardiness until well established, and planting in spring gives the plant a longer growing season to get established and develop its cold-hardiness before the next cold season. If planting in the late summer, we recommend planting even the most cold-hardy bamboos at least 3 months before first frost (although planting season may be somewhat extended by using frost covers). Thick mulch is recommended to protect the plants over the first winter regardless of when planted.
In very hot summer climates , the best planting times for bamboos are early spring and late fall. Bamboos will more readily establish themselves when weather is milder and rain is more likely. Mid-summer planting can sometimes be accomplished by using shade cloth to protect from intense sun.
In mild climate areas such as coastal California, it doesn’t make as much difference, except for the least cold hardy clumpers, for which spring is still the best. Here every season has its advantages, with spring and summer offering the most active growing periods and fall, winter and spring sharing the rainy season.
Most bamboos grow best in deep, well-drained, fertile soils, and they generally prefer neutral to slightly acid soils. If your soil is deficient, the extra time and expense of improving it is usually well worth the effort.
Sandy soils and alkaline soils may be improved with the addition of organic materials such as compost, peat, manures, nitrolized sawdust, or bark chips. These materials help retain moisture, acidify the soil, and also provide nutrition to the plants. Acid fertilizers can also be added to compensate for extremely alkaline soils. For overly acidic soils with pH of 5.5 or lower, add lime to reduce acidity to a pH of 6.0 - 7.0. Clay soils may be improved to provide better drainage with the addition of sand and organic materials. Most bamboos suffer root damage if submerged in water for several weeks. Drainage may also be improved by mounding the soil or ditching around the planting. Bamboos can be grown well in very shallow soils if adequate fertility and moisture are maintained. It’s always a good idea to consult with your local nurseryman about how best to amend your local soils. (Note: If you have gophers in your area, be sure to read the section on Pests before planting).
If you plan to grow your bamboo in containers, make sure to use a good potting mix. Most commercial potting or nursery mixes are adequate as they are.
The soil you use should both drain well and retain moisture. Most mixes contain both organic and inorganic elements. Sand, volcanic cinders, and perlite are excellent stable inorganic components. Sand has the virtue of being cheap, while cinders and perlite not only promote good drainage but also hold water. Fir bark, compost, and peat are good organic components. In general, larger organic particles last longer before breaking down; therefore, drainage improves with larger particles, decreases with smaller ones. It may also be advantageous to add a small proportion of loam or clay for micro-nutrients. In a potting mix one basically looks for texture rather than nutrition, however. Nutrition is easy to supplement.
Repotting every third year is often helpful to keep the plant growing vigorously and looking its best. One may either repot it into a larger pot or divide the plant with a saw or hatchet. Annual pruning of old and dead wood will also improve the appearance and health of the plant.
Bamboo in the Ground
Mar-Sep: Turf Supreme Fertilizer, 16-6-8. High in nitrogen to keep leaves green. Use one cup per 64 sq. feet (8 oz per 8' x 8'area), applied once a month.
Oct-Feb: Apex Fertilizer, 6-24-24. For greater growth of roots and shoots. Use two cups per 64 sq. ft. (8 oz per 8' x 8' area), applied every 6 weeks.
After plants in the ground reach the desired height & density, maintain with 16-6-8 twice a year in March & June.
Also highly recommended for plants in the ground is composted horse manure, which is the bamboo fertilizer of choice in Asia. Every other year we spread it about 4" deep in late fall to allow time for nitrogen conversion and use the rest of the year. For exceptionally tall growth, two applications per year may be used (early spring and late fall). During manure application years, additional chemical fertilizers are unnecessary. Use other manures if you have them available, but avoid nitrogen-hot ones, such as chicken and steer manure.
Bamboo in Containers
Year-Round, Indoors or Outdoors: Apex or Osmocote Fertilizer, 14-14-14 or 15-15-15, four to six month slow-release. Apply the following amounts once every four to six months:
1-gallon planter - 1 Tbsp
5-gallon planter - 2 Tbsp
15-gallon planter - ¼ Cup
25-gallon planter - ½ Cup
3' x 3' planter - 1 Cup
First and foremost, keep your bamboo well watered. Bamboo likes plenty of deep watering - soaking down to at least 8-12 inches - and also good drainage. If you are keeping your plants in containers, or unable to transplant for a while, make sure the water is running out of the bottom of the pot each time you water. With ground plantings, a deep soaking less frequently is best, rather than a shallow watering every day. Then wait until the soil is just slightly damp - not wet, and not bone dry - before watering again. After the first few months, you can usually depend on a spray emitter irrigation system, using 1 to 2 high volume emitters per plant. (We do not recommend "drip" systems, as they do not emit a large enough volume of water and do not cover an area widely).
You will need to keep a close eye on your bamboo for a while to determine how much and how often to water in your particular microclimate, soil type and season. Occasionally, check moisture in the ground by digging down to a depth of at least 4 inches. If the soil is dry at 4 inches, water is not getting to the roots adequately. This is especially important during the first 2-3 months after transplanting. Also, as a rule of thumb, if the leaves are curling sideways (lengthwise) this means your bamboo is stressed and not getting enough water. If the leaves are drooping downward, your bamboo might be getting too much water and/or not enough drainage.
Also, in full sun, dry, windy or hot situations, it is ideal to spray the foliage with water once a day for an initial transition period of 2-4 weeks, and/or all summer in dry, hot climates. Regular overhead watering will reduce the amount of leaf drop during the transition, help your bamboo get established quickly, and increase its growth rate and ultimate height in dry climates.
Bamboo doesn't have many pests, but the pests they do have can be unsightly, if not a serious problem, unless some simple steps are taken.
Insects: Mites, Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Scale, & Ants:
The symptoms of mites are small, regular, bleached-looking spots on the leaves. If you look very closely at the underside of the leaves, you will also see a very fine white web. The mites themselves are silvery grey and so small it is hard to see them without a magnifying glass. Often mites and aphids can be found together, and the treatment for both is the same.
Aphids are small crawling insects, either green or black in color. Mealy bugs appear usually in branch joints as little spots of "white cotton" which seem not to move at all. Scale looks like little, flat cones on branches and leaves, and are light colored when young, growing darker and more visible with age.
Aphids, mealy bugs and scale are sometimes accompanied by ants and/or sooty mold. These insects all produce a sticky secretion that can be eaten by ants, and sometimes a black sooty mold grows on it as well. So the presence of ants or sooty mold is often a sign of insect problems. The ants themselves do not harm the bamboo. Mealy bugs and scale are less of a problem in areas which receive hard frosts in winter.
With the interests of the environment in mind, below you will find our approaches to insect problems, with the most environmentally friendly listed first:
Other possible pests - Bamboo in the West is a deer-proof plant. We have lots of deer here in Northern California, specifically the western mule deer, but have never had a problem with them. However, if bamboo is the only fodder for miles around they might eat it, especially tender new plants, and in that case, deer fencing around your new bamboo plants is a good idea. In the eastern U.S., the white-tailed deer co-evolved with our one native American species of bamboo, Arundinaria gigantea, and developed a taste for bamboo; and therefore, deer fencing is more imperative in the eastern states.
Purpose: In all its varied forms, the uses for bamboo are endless: striking, stand-alone specimen plants, a low variegated border, groundcover, accent plants in pots on a deck or patio, an interesting entryway, an Asian look for Japanese gardens, etc.
By far the most popular use of bamboo, however, is as fast-growing privacy screens and evergreen hedges. Since bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, bamboo screens and hedges can be created more quickly and inexpensively, compared to other plants or trees. Running bamboos fill in the spaces between the original plants the fastest, and even with 3' ft. spacing some screening can be achieved within 2-3 years with smaller size pots. Clumping bamboos take more time to fill in, but are ultimately extremely dense. Bamboo Sourcery also sells bamboos that are 10-20 ft, even 30 ft. tall already which can be used for "instant screens." Almost any species can be used for effective screening, given that it will grow to the height you desire in the space that you can allow for it, and given that it is properly matched to your climate and planting area for cold hardiness and sun/shade.
We discuss below the various factors involved in selecting the plants that will best suit your needs and your location from the myriad of bamboos available. Four of the characteristics listed below are also listed with each species on our Price List.
Temperature: Cold-hardiness, the lowest temperature tolerated by the root system of each species for 2-3 nights at a time, is listed on our Price Lists for each plant. (We tend not to use zone systems, since there are so many different systems). It's best to select bamboos that will tolerate temperatures well below the lowest temperatures you've experienced in perhaps the last 10 years in order to ensure healthy plants long-term. The cold-hardiness rating generally represents the threshold for root death. Somewhat less cold temperatures may cause only leaf burn and the loss of some leaves. If the canes are not damaged, new leaves will bud out again when the weather warms up. Colder temperatures experienced for several nights may kill the tops or even whole canes, causing them to turn beige. The parts of canes which are dead will not produce new leaves and may be cut off. However, if the roots survive, they will produce new shoots (culms) in spring or summer. Cold-hardiness can be extended considerably by putting a very deep mulch over the bamboos in the fall.
A few plants may also suffer from summer heat, such as Fargesias and some Chusqueas, which do not tolerate hot summer nights (over 70 F.).
Sun: Sun needs are listed on the Price Lists. Compare with the number of hours of direct sun which your plants will receive, and what part of the day they will be in sun. AM sun is cooler, but PM sun may be harsher, and is especially harsh in dry climates.
Height & Diameter: Maximum height and diameter reached by each species in the climate of origin is listed in the Price List. This is the "known reference point." However, height and diameter are affected by all aspects of climate: high and low temperatures, sun/shade exposure, humidity/aridity, water supplied, length of growing season, etc. For example, many of the bamboos like humidity and warmth, which makes them taller and larger in diameter; but aridity and/or cooler winters will prevent some plants from reaching their maximum size. Certain plants, when grown in California, reach 50% of the height they achieve in the climate of origin.
However, if your climate has hot, humid, long summers and stays well within the plant's cold tolerance, and if the plant is located in an appropriate amount of sun or shade and will have year-round water, you can generally expect the maximum height. Height in relation to climate is somewhat predictable for most of the species, so if in doubt, check with us about height for a species in your climate.
Running or clumping type: Listed on the Price Lists. Consider all of the advantages and disadvantages of clumpers and runners for you. For example, clumpers spread wide more slowly, but grow tall faster, and don’t require root barrier for containment. Runners spread wide quickly to form screens, are less expensive, but sometimes require root barrier. For a more thorough discussion of the advantages and disadvantages and how to choose the best type for your situation, see the section Clumping and Running Bamboos.
Look desired: There is an amazing variety in bamboos to choose from. There are canes with colors, stripes, large/small diameters, exposed or covered with foliage. Leaves may be striped and variegated, yellow or white with green, long and thin, large and wide, or very small. Growth habit may be vertical & narrow, bushy & wide, weeping, arching at the top, dense or airy, etc. Selection is all a matter of taste and purpose. Read on in the Species Description List for more information and color photos. Keep in mind, also, that young plants may not immediately show colors and variegation when you receive them, but these features will become more prominent after the first year or two. And some features appear only in certain conditions and may not yet be present when you receive the plant. For example, red and purplish coloration of canes is only brought out by direct sun consistently hitting the canes themselves.
To purchase plants, please see our Plant Price List, which also contains photo access and specific details about each plant.
To read one-paragraph descriptions of many of our plants and also access photos, please see Species Descriptions.
To search for plants by your criteria: Click here to Search for plants by your criteria (such as height, cold-hardiness, sun/shade, clumper or runner)
We provide these suggestions to help you make your selections; however, no guarantee of success is implied. The following recommendations are generalizations, and do not account for microclimatic differences. Before selecting a species for your garden, always check the temperature, sun/shade ratings, height, and running/clumping type, and take into account your humidity levels.
Far South (Tropical, semi-tropical, humid, warm year round, no frost)
Recommended: Bambusas, Chusqueas, Dendrocalamus, Drepanostachyums, Himalayacalamus, and all Phyllostachys, including Ph. nigra 'Henon,' except those noted below. Can be planted any time of year.
Not recommended: All Semiarundinarias, Phyllostachys nuda, and all Ph. nigras (except Ph. nigra 'Henon'), which need cold winters and cooler summer nights to do well. Also Fargesias, Himalayacalamus hookerianus "Blue Bamboo," Chusquea circinata, and Ch. sulcata will not do well in areas where the temperatures exceed 100 F. and summer nights are above 70 F.
South East (Hot, humid summers, some winter frost and down to 10 F. in some areas)
Recommended: Almost anything will grow in this area if minimum temperature rating of species is appropriate. It is one of the few areas that Phyllostachys heterocycla pubescens 'Moso' grows well. All bamboos in this region are best planted in spring, to maximize growing season. In the fall, be sure to plant at least 3 months before your first frost. In colder areas, clumpers should be mulched before wintertime.
Not recommended: Chusquea circinata and Ch. sulcata, Fargesias, Himalayacalamus hookerianus "Blue Bamboo," Phyllostachys nuda, and Semiarundinarias will not do well in areas where the temperatures exceed 100 F. and summer nights are above 70 F.
South West (Low desert, with hot, dry summers and very light or no frost in winter)
Recommended: Bambusas, Otateas, Phyllostachys and Semiarundinarias (exceptions noted below), Hibanobambusa, Pseudosasa japonica "Arrow Bamboo" and "Pleioblastoides," and most Pleioblastus species. Drepanostachyum sengteeanum, Borinda boliana, Chusquea nigricans, and Ch. pittieri may also do ok. In shade, Yushania, some Himalayacalamus, and other Drepanostachyums may be grown as well. All variegated forms of the above genera and dwarf forms of Pleioblastus should also be grown in shade only. It's best to plant in mild fall weather to give plants time to get established before hot summer temperatures and take advantage of winter rains. Shield plants from extreme heat, cold, and sun when first planted. They will also need frequent watering in this climate, probably daily in summer. All plants will look somewhat better if in a little shade some part of the day. Installation of misters to mist the foliage daily is an optional but useful aid to help plants get established, look their best and grow ultimately taller.
Not recommended: Bambusa multiplex 'Silverstripe,' B. vulgaris vittata, Chusquea circinata and sulcata, Fargesias, Sasas, Himalayacalamus hookerianus "Blue Bamboo," Indocalamus, Semiarundinaria fastuosa, and Phyllostachys nuda.
High Desert (Hot, dry summers, cool nights, cold winters)
Recommended: Pleioblastus, Semiarundinarias and Phyllostachys(except as noted below), Sasella masamuneana albostriata, Psuedosasa japonica "Arrow Bamboo" and 'Pleioblastoides,' and Hibanobambusas. Be sure to check that the temperature rating for the species is appropriate for your area. Chusquea nigricans may do all right, but there are no other clumpers that will do well in this climate. All variegated forms of the above genera and dwarf forms of Pleioblastus should be grown in shade only. Early spring after danger of frost is past is the best time to plant, in order to allow them to get established before the extreme heat arrives, and it's good to shelter plants from extreme heat, cold, or sun when first planted. Plants in this climate will need frequent watering, probably daily in summer. All plants will look somewhat better if in shade some part of the day. Installation of misters to mist the foliage daily is an optional but useful aid to help plants get established, look their best and grow ultimately taller.
Not recommended : Bambusas, Fargesias, Sasas, Indocalamus, Phyllostachys nuda, Semiarundinaria fastuosa.
North (Cold winters down to 0 to –20 F.)
Recommended: all Fargesias (shade plants which are native to high mountain environments) are a good choice. Also many Phyllostachys, with bissetii, nuda, rubromarginata being among the most cold-hardy; Pleioblastus, particularly simonii and simonii 'heterophyllus'; many Semiarundinarias and Sasas. Be sure to check that the temperature rating for the species is appropriate for your area. Spring is the best planting season, allowing the whole growing season to get established before the next winter. In fall, plant at least 3 months before first frost. Mulching deeply in the cold season is also important, using 12 inches of wood shavings, leaves, or hay and then removing the mulch in the spring. Some plants may freeze back in winter, but if mulched deeply will shoot up again in the spring. In the coldest regions mature heights will be lower.
Not recommended: any plants not designated to be cold-hardy enough for your lowest nighttime winter temperatures.
Near Ocean (At least 200' away from water, with salt laden air, but not salt spray) In general, bamboo does not like salt laden air and is prone to leaf tip burn. However, the following bamboos are relatively more salt tolerant.
Recommended: Assuming the species' temperature rating is appropriate for your area, some good choices are the Bambusas, Otatea acuminata, Pseudosasa japonica, Chimonobambusa quadrangularis, Semiarundinaria fastuosa, Pleioblastus hindsii, Pl. gramineus, Pl. simonii and simonii 'heterophyllus.' (Certain other families of bamboo can grow here but are much more vulnerable to leaf tip burn: Phyllostachys, Dendrocalamus, Fargesias and some Chusqueas, such as Ch. pittieri, sulcata, circinata, foliosa, and the culeous).
This region has many highly varied microclimates, and thus can sustain a multitude of bamboo species. Hot and dry climates may choose from recommendations made for the southwest or high desert, colder mountain climates from the northern recommendations, etc. Again, always make sure your temperatures, sun exposure, sun-shade, and humidity are appropriate for any particular species you may choose. One nice feature is that Bamboo in the West is a deer-proof plant! Because there is no bamboo native to the west coast and the deer did not co-evolve with it, they will not eat bamboo unless it is the only fodder for miles around.
Bamboos can sometimes be successfully and beautifully grown indoors, but only if you have a very green thumb and can give them adequate light, humidity, moving fresh air, and attentive observation and care. Also, because indoor environments are usually less than ideal, rotating your plants outdoors in mild conditions is often a wise practice for their long-term health. It is very important to read and apply all of the following guidelines if you want your bamboo houseplants to look healthy and beautiful for more than a few months. We provide no guarantee for plants placed in indoor environments, but if you are feeling adventurous and have a good green thumb, read on!
Humidity: Bamboos need high ambient moisture levels. Daily misting is recommended to compensate for the lower humidity of most interiors, especially while winter heating is in use. Humidity may also be provided by placing a small fountain or humidifier nearby. It's also best to keep plants in cooler locations and away from heaters.
Light: Bamboos do best indoors with at least all day bright indirect natural light. Most will do better with a few hours of direct sun. The less light, the slower growth will be. Also, severe leaf drop may occur as a plant adjusts to less light and ambient moisture. If this occurs, often the plant will grow new leaves which are more acclimated to the indoor conditions. Please check the Sun/Shade Ratings listed under "Indoor Plant Selection" (or on our Price Lists for other plants that interest you).
Soil: We recommend a light”potting mix, consisting of 1/3 soil, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 perlite in order provide excellent drainage and enable the soil to aerate and dry out more quickly after watering, to prevent root rot. If you also place a layer of gravel in the bottom of your pot (which must have holes for drainage, of course), you can place the pot in a saucer of water. Without the layer of gravel, the pot must be raised up to keep it out of the water that collects in the saucer.
Watering: For the same reasons, close attention to watering is very important for bamboos kept indoors. They should be watered in small amounts, deeply enough that roots are kept moist (a little water should run out the bottom), but not so much that the soil stays soggy for days. The top 2-3”inches of soil should be allowed to dry out before watering again. Below the 4”inch depth, soil should be lightly moist around the roots at all times.
Air Movement: We have found it very helpful to have some air flow in the area with yor indoor bamboo, fresh air from outdoors, if possible. For this reason, entryways or rooms with windows near the plants that can be kept partially open seem to work best.
Fertilizer: For container-grown bamboos, we like the slow-release fertilizers supplemented with trace minerals. We use Apex, 14-14-14, a product similar to Osmocote, 14-14-14, with a 4-6 month release rate, depending on temperature. Dosage depends on size of container:
1 Tbsp per 1 gal container, 2 Tbsp per 5 gal container, 4 Tbsp per 15 gal container, ½ C. per 25 gal container, 1 C. per 3' x 3' container.
Height: Indoors, bamboos generally grow only a fraction of their maximum height and diameter, so we recommend that you buy a plant that is already as close as possible to the size you ultimately want.
Troubleshooting: Yellowing leaves usually indicate either too little or too much water. If there is too much water and the roots are rotting, the leaves may look pale and droopy. Too little water may cause leaves to have brown tips, curl up, look dry and yellow, and begin to drop. The roots may have dried out just once or are root-bound and not absorbing water well. When under- or over-watering is corrected quickly, the plant will often re-leaf in a month or two and be healthy. Dig down 3-4 inches into the soil frequently to monitor moisture. Root-bound plants may be placed in a large saucer of water for a half-hour or so to soak up water from the bottom.
Bamboos grown indoors are more vulnerable to insect pests and disease, as they are generally more stressed than they would be outdoors. Insects may be treated with the usual sprays (best applied outdoors). If the plant is small, simply washing the leaves under running water can be effective. (Please also see Possible Pests).
Suggested Indoor Bamboos: Click here for the list.
Below are our recommended methods for removing bamboo.
Removal Methods: Many people ask about using Round-Up or other herbicides to kill bamboo. We do not recommend it. Not only will Round-up poison your soil (and possibly yourself), but the root mass left in the ground will make other uses or replanting of the same area difficult, if not impossible, and often the plants will still re-shoot. If you are, nevertheless, determined to use Round Up, remember that the poison is taken in through the leaves only, and it must be applied in an undiluted form, which is sometimes difficult to find.
The most effective method of removal of bamboo is to dig out the entire root and rhizome mass as thoroughly as possible, including fragments. To make the job easier, water the area deeply a few days before digging. Start on the outside of the clump or grove and work your way inward. The roots generally do not grow deeper than 6-18 inches and you usually can chop them into chunks and pull them out piece by piece. (If you want to remove super large chunks at one time, you can dig deeply around the circumference of a chunk, tie a strong rope or chain around it, and pull it out with a truck or tractor!)
It is likely that you will miss a few root fragments here and there, and over the next few seasons you may see an occasional shoot coming up. If you wish, you can force any root fragments to shoot by watering the area for awhile. Then, simply snap them off at soil level by hand while they are small and tender. The tiny root fragments will thus be deprived of nourishment from above and will die off. (This does not kill larger pieces of root).
Tools for Removing Bamboo: A shovel, hatchet, ax, pick, strong maddox, and a long, strong pry bar are the most common tools used for removing bamboo. When we dig a large area of a giant timber species, we also use a carbide-tipped chain saw and a special heavy duty chopping bar. If you have access to such tools, they will save you time and effort.
Removal Services: We are sometimes able to offer bamboo removal services. If you live within a 2-hour drive of Sebastopol, CA and have a significant amount of a species we can use, we may be able to come, during the appropriate digging seasons for your particular plant, and remove your bamboo. If you have bamboo that you would like us to remove, give us a phone call to initiate the conversation.
In order to determine whether the plant may be useful to us and the feasibility of digging, we will need a few photographs and/or cane samples sent to us: i.e. a length of cane with 1-2 nodes, branches, and leaves in a zip-loc bag and then in a brown envelope. We will also need some information about the height of your plant, size of the area it covers, soil type, surrounding structures, and any other relevant details, including your address and phone number. Scheduling is sometimes unpredictable, so flexibility in scheduling is very helpful.
© Bamboo Sourcery, 2004
Culm A stem which is hollow except at the nodes, as are the bamboo canes.
Diaphragm The rigid membrane which forms the partition within the nodes, adding strength to the cane.
Internode Portion of the culm or cane between nodes.
Node Point on the culm from which branches and leaves grow on the outside, and where the diaphragm appears inside, separating hollow segments of the culm.
Rhizome A type of rootstock consisting of a creeping stem, usually growing horizontally underground. In the case of bamboo, the rhizomes are woody and segmented just like the culms.
Sheath An enclosing "leaf" which protects the young shoots, culms, and sometimes branches as well. May be dropped or retained as shoot matures.
Shoot New culm which has just broken ground, arising from a rhizome underground, completely covered with sheaths, and poised to demonstrate bamboo's reputation for phenomenally rapid growth. Bamboo shoots are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.
Sulcus A groove along the length of the internode, sometimes of a different color from the rest of the cane.
Species descriptions (See part II)