Bamboo newbie looking for the right type

abnormalsanon(Philadelphia, PA)May 23, 2007

Hi there! This is my first time posting here in a long time. I'm primarily an aquatic gardener so terrestrial plants are a mystery to me :)

I'm buying my first home in Philadephia, PA (cold hardiness zone 6, AHS heat zone 6-7) and planning small garden areas in the front and back areas of the house.

In the back area, I would love to plant a bank of clumping bamboo. I will already be covering the chainlink fence with bamboo cane fencing to give the yard some privacy, so I think live bamboo will complete the look nicely. I would prefer to plant two varieties: one smaller (3 feet max) and the other a bit taller (6-7 feet max). The back area gets morning sun.

In the front area, I will be using containers as this area is paved. This area gets full afternoon sun as the house faces west.

I have a few questions for you experts!

1. Are there clumping varieties that match my height requirements and can grow in the above conditions?

2. What about bamboo for large containers? Should I stick with clumping or could I use running varieties?

3. I love bamboo with variegated leaves or some color. Any suggestions?

I know you probably get these questions all the time, but I really appreciate any suggestions!

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brian_k(z6 OH)

For a small boo, Pleioblastus viridistriatus works well. It also has green and yellow variegated folige. In a pot I would just plant a tropical clumper because you won't want to leave even a cold hardy boo out all winter because the pot might freeze solid. Just move the pot indoors in late october or whenever. Bambusa multiplex would be a good choice for containers. And as for the hedge in the back- you could use a fargesia species, but you would need to get a large number of them to fully screen it.

In cold areas like zone 5 and 6 runners are superior to clumpers in screening. Yellow groove, bissetii, nuda, and arundinaria gigantea all will do a great job. Arundinaria will remain evergreen even during the harshest winters in your area. Runners can be controlled by mowing shoots in unwanted areas and by making divisions at the edge of the planting area in the spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: bambooweb

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 11:03AM
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abnormalsanon(Philadelphia, PA)

Thanks for the helpful info, Brian! I think the Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' type looks particularly beautiful for container planting. What a beauty! Maybe I will plant that in larger containers, with a smaller container of Pleioblastus viridistriatus in front of the house. I can move these into my sunroom for the winter months without a problem, as long as the taller species can fit through the door :)

The only thing I'm worried about with the running bamboos is the small size of my rear yard. It's only about 20 x 15' and there are two backyards on either side separated only by a chain link fence. While the bamboo would be wonderful for privacy from these yards, I worry that it will spread under the fence, even with a rhizome barrier. I'm worried less about privacy since I will be covering the fence with bamboo cane fencing, and really just looking for something beautiful. Do you think Fargesia sp. 'Rufa' Green Panda would be a good choice? I would probably plant 5-10 one gallon plants in July to start with.

Thanks again for your advice. This is really helpful.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 1:26PM
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brian_k(z6 OH)

10 fargesia 'rufa' would probably do a good job filling 20 feet in a number years. Can't say how tall it'll get however. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 6:29PM
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