Is there such thing as a well behaved bamboo that doesn't spread?
ALL bamboo spreads, but they are generally divided into two groups, runners and clumpers.
I have seen runners spread 15+ feet per year, and I have seen clumpers spread only 4 or 5 inches in as many years.
Some clumpers spread rather quickly and are called 'open' clumpers whereas others grow very tightly and compact and spreading is very slow.
There are dozens to choose from that will grow well in your area. I would look at some of the Bambusas, particularly the B. multiplexes. Depending on the protection that your bamboo will get from the cold, how tall you want it to grow, how much sun it will get, and a few other variables, you can narrow it down to just a few.
Plastic bamboo won't spread.
I have a spot against the house that gets dappled afternoon sun in the way that it's shaded by a pecan tree. What clumping variety would you suggest that would get to be about 3-4 ft. tall? Thanks.
I am mostly familiar with Bambusas, so you may look into some of these:
Bambusa multiplex 'Riviereorum' aka CHINESE GODDESS. Grows to 6 feet in height.
B. multiplex 'Tiny Fern' grows to 3 feet in height.
B. multiplex 'Tiny Fern Striped', 3 feet in height.
They are listed as FULL sun bamboos, but I have many multiplexes in almost complete shade and they do fine, but tend to grow a bit taller than their listed height.
Also remember that bamboo culms, once trimmed or topped-off, will remain at that height for the rest of their life.
Check out the American Bamboo Society website. It has some very helpful info and references. Also Bambooweb.info has a handy bamboo selection tool to match bamboo with the planting location you are considering.
Here is a link that might be useful: American Bamboo Socieity
I don't mean to be rude or negative but how in the world could you possibly be reading in the Bamboo Forum and not see a zillion answers/replies to your very simple question? I personally believe it's rude and inappropriate to ask questions of the Forum before checking to see if the topic has been dealt with previously. Just my opinion...just seems like a matter of courtesy.