Bamboo Prices in SF Bay Area

zadalApril 13, 2009

I am a newbie to Bamboo in the San Francisco Bay area. I was wondering where is the right place around here that I can get affordable bamboo. I am looking for ornamental kind - allgold ( yellow )and nigra ( black ). I saw 5 gallon at Summerwind nursery for $69, which is way over my budget. And why is the bamboo so expensive? I thought people said the running bamboo are invasive, in that case, they should be very cheap.

Thanks for your tips.

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

That's a little pricey, but not out of line. The reason bamboo is expensive is that it's not typically grown from seed. It's divided in the field and then potted up and stabilized, and conscientious growers may hold on to the plant for at least 6 months to be sure it's going to make it. If you have a limited budget, you should see if you can dig some for free from a yard that is looking like its bamboo is getting out of control. This is hard work, but cheap! You could also put a "Wanted" post on Freecycle and see who has bamboo available to share or to dig.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 10:01PM
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daveh_sf(San Francisco)

You might try:
Terra Viridis Nursery in El Sobrante (by appointment only)
Strybing Arboretum's big May sale May 1 (members) and May 2
Bamboo Sourcery in Sebastopol

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 9:20AM
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Thank you for your recommendation and advise.

The most common / affordable bamboo that I see is at Home Depot and Lowes. They only have one kind - Golden Bamboo, which is known to be invasive.

The impression I had with Bamboo is lush green, pleasing to the eyes. To the contrary, the golden bamboo they sell are all brown on the leaves as well as on their stems. But I noticed that the same everywhere, even at Summerwind nursery which sells Monrovia and other high end plants. Are they supposed to be like that? Or is it because of California dry weather?

I just stopped by Hakone in Saratoga, and I noticed their bamboo garden all have very green looking bamboo.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 11:26AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

The only reason bamboo would look brown like that in your climate is if they had been neglected and/or were dead or dying. Only buy plants that look healthy. As far as invasiveness, most of the bamboo species grown in the U.S. are invasive, and those of us who like and grow it deal with this issue by root pruning and/or in-ground barriers. You should be able to buy non-invasive bamboo (called "clumpers") if you go to a nursery that has a decent selection of bamboo or specializes in it. However, many of the more colorful bamboo are the runners.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 12:48PM
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Hi kudzu9

Thanks for the info. The two variety that I am interested, are the running type - Nigra and Allgold. I gold plastic about 1 and a 1/2 feet deep, and nursery pots kind of thickness to surround the island of bamboo. Should be good enough that I wont get complaint from neighbors that I am invading their yard right?

If I plant Japanese Maple in the same 'island' as the bamboo, would the running rhizome destroy the root of the Japanese Maple?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:26PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

When you put in a barrier, it has to be a special kind of high density plastic, called bamboo barrier, which costs about $3 per running foot, If you use something else it may mainly work, but will probably get penetrated. I have hard soil, and I have too much running bamboo to put in barrier for all of it, so I root prune when I need to. Here is what you could do that won't cost anything but labor:

1. Plant the bamboo in a slight mound (like 6"-8" high in the center). This seems to help keep the rhizomes near the surface and easier to deal with.
2. Then, trench around the perimeter that you want to maintain, digging down at least 18". Fill the narrow trench with something soft like bark or sand.
3. Once or twice a year push the shovel down through the trench and see if you encounter any rhizomes. Just chop them off if you do. This should deal with most or all of the running problem.

Don't be too afraid of your bamboo. I control about 50 different kinds of running bamboo by rhizome pruning. Some runners travel very little and some are aggressive. It not only depends on the species, but the growing conditions. I have several clumps that have gone nowhere in 5 years, one small grove that probably traveled about 10' in 30 years, and another plant that went 12' in one year. Your mileage may vary!

Lastly, the bamboo roots won't kill the Japanese maple roots, but you may get rhizomes that travel underground and then shoot right up through the maple's foliage. If this is not acceptable to you, you can just break off the shoots when they are a couple of inches high and it will stop the shooting in that spot (at least for that year).

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 1:41PM
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Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo Bay

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:45AM
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