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Bamboo Plant SelectionBamboo Sourcery's Information Supplement - Bamboo plant selection, regional recommendations, bamboo for screening & other purposes.bamboo plant selection, bamboo screen, screening bamboo hedge, privacy hedge, evergreen, selecting bamboo plants, bamboo species selection, selection of bamboo plants, choosing bamboo plants Print this page    Previous topic Next topic

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)

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