Will this bamboo escape?

louannieMay 17, 2007

I originally posted this on the Southern gardening forum, and someone suggested posting it here. I didn't know this was here!

I have been planning on digging up some bamboo from a (huge!) patch near my in-laws' house and putting it in a very large pot and setting it on concrete in my courtyard. It is a running type and I know it wouldn't be safe to plant in the ground (It has completely taken over the vacant lot next to my in-laws' house!). I'm trying for a "tropical" look in my courtyard, and I can't afford to buy bamboo...it's expensive! (Isn't that black bamboo great?)

But I got to wondering if it might perhaps throw some seeds out and spread that way? I guess if I do plant it, I need to cut off any flowers that might form? I SURE don't want any of that stuff in my yard...my neighbor mentioned once that she was thinking of planting some at the back corner of her yard (which borders mine and is right next to my compost pile and a "wild" section of my yard that I don't mow) and I threatened her life! (We are good friends...she didn't do it, thank God, or we might not be!) Besides getting all in my compost pile and obliterating it, it would spread into the pasture behind us, and the poor cows soon wouldn't have anywhere to go!

Anyway, I just thought I'd check first and see what everybody here thinks of my idea, if it would be safe?

Btw, anyone who thinks that there is no kind of bamboo that springs up and grows like a foot overnight doesn't live in Louisiana! :-)

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

I don't think you should plant any in the ground because it sounds like you will be constantly worrying. Bamboo can be invasive if ignored, but there are a lot of urban myths about its aggressiveness, too. Bamboo can be controlled by rhizome pruning, but that doesn't work if people don't do it a couple of times a year. Every place I've ever seen where bamboo got out of control was because the owners failed to do normal maintenance for several years and then woke up to the fact that they had a problem. You can plant it in a pot, but expect to be repotting every couple of years as it grows. Don't use any pot that isn't a standard vase shape or you'll never get it out because the roots go to the sides and circle. And like most plants, it will not be as healthy or hardy in a pot as in the ground. An alternative is to buy a clumping bamboo. I don't know what you consider expensive, but many bamboo are available online for $20 + shipping for smaller ones; local nurseries often charge outrageous amounts.

Growing from seed is complicated because seed is only available for a particular species when it flowers...and that occurs at unpredictable intervals that are decades apart. So the likelihood that you could find seed for a particular species is remote. Finally, if you had a plant and it did flower, it typically saps all the plant's energy and it dies. You can find seed on eBay, but most of that is from outside the U.S. and it is technically a violation of U.S. plant regulations to import it without getting a permit and paying for a 1-year quarantine. If you do grow from seed, it will take 3-5 years before it attains any significant height.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Thank you for the information! I'm not even considering putting this in the ground, nor trying to start from seeds.

The stuff that is growing in the vacant lot grows a lot in the "wild" around here and it is truly a monster, like kudzu. The pots I am wanting to use are very large, about 15 inches across the top, bowl-shaped. The sides are straight up at the top, so that shouldn't be a problem. The only thing I can think of is that I'll have to watch the bottom of the pot to make sure no rhizomes get out, get off the concrete, and go into the ground. What a nightmare that would be, right here in my courtyard! And knowing what I do about this stuff, I bet it will be perfectly hardy in the pot! But even if it were to die some unusually cold winter, there is plenty more to be dug up.

(Yes, $20+ for a plant is expensive to me.)

Thanks again for your informative answer!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 11:44AM
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