please recommend a bamboo for me!

cousinfloydMay 7, 2014

I already have Phyllostachys edulis, P. vivax Aureocaulis, and P. aureosulcata, all just planted last year, plus some native bamboo planted this year, but I'm looking for a bamboo (either something new or more of one of the varieties I already have) for a particular spot. It's an area where I keep my shitake mushroom logs, but I'd like it to be shadier, especially in the spring before the trees leaf out. So I'm looking for something that I can keep thin enough to have spaces (roughly 6-8' square openings) to put stacks of logs. I guess a relatively open understory would be more characteristic of the larger bamboos, but I'm not looking for anything that gets super tall. Maybe 20' tall would be ideal, but taller would be okay. Something relatively more ornamental would be a nice bonus. The area is kind of a triangle with hard packed gravel lanes on two sides and woods on the third side. Can I have any hope of keeping the bamboo contained in this area by simply knocking off shoots that emerge outside the area every shooting season? Are some types of bamboo more amenable to such management than others? If I manage the stand that way, how far out should I expect shoots to come up? Also, I'm hoping to gradually remove the mostly around 20' tall deciduous trees as the bamboo fills in and replaces the trees' shade, but for that to work I would need a bamboo with some degree of shade tolerance for the interim. I can start the bamboo on the sunniest edge, but is that still too much to ask?

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Currently my phyllostachys edulis bicolor is my favorite so far which is very ornamental. It should be 1-2 weeks from shooting by about now, but I believe in zone 7, it would probably get up to 30-40ft if it gets well fertilized. This bamboo is supposed to have good spacing however it just grows slow in my climate up here in upstate NY. I've found it produces enormous rhizomes, but not that many of them since it has only 7 rhizomes after being in the ground for 3 years.

I don't think any bamboos can upsize well under a canopy of tree shade so some trees on the south facing side will need to be cut down.

Here's my blog post on it which starts in 2011.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bicolor growing diary

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:54PM
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Thanks for sharing, Steve. The more I think about and hear from other bamboo growers, the more I think I ought to get a better feel for how bamboo grows in more flexible spots before I try to grow any in places that need to fit more precise parameters.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:02PM
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Thanks, too, for sharing the great series of bamboo photos.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:04PM
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I should be adding more photos pretty soon because shooting season should be right around the corner even in the far north here in upstate NY.

I just know this type is hardy down to zone 7 because someone in SC who is normally zone 8, but got a low of 3F still got almost no damage on p edulis bicolor.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 12:04PM
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Hello , I'm looking for a bamboo which would be ideal for making bo staffs for martial arts training. It needs to be cold hardy -10 -15 degrees and I would like it to be 1" or 1.5" in diameter . Something durable and solid with flexibility. The commercial bo staffs sold for training are made of rattan bamboo , I have looked everywhere and have found no sights of anything similar . Can someone help me , I need a species or strand , and a location where to get a start .... Thank you

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 5:40AM
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Julio, I know very little about bamboo compared to most of the people on this forum, but my guess is that you're not going to find anything comparable to rattan in a hardy enough bamboo or any bamboo that grows outside of the tropics.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 7:06AM
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Ok thanks . I'm new to growing bamboo and I'm not familiar with all the different typs. Thanks again for the information ...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Skie_M(Zone 7 (Southwestern Oklahoma)

I know that the tallgrasses around here that greatly resemble bamboo get up to an inch or a little more in diameter, and I have had great fun fashioning lengths of it into swords, spears, and various other decorative use objects. It is, unfortunately, quite fragile compared to real bamboo, and readily splits down it's length if you strike something forcefully with it.

It's been a plan of mine to harvest a decent amount of the thicker stalks and split them down the length of the beam and then tie a large number of them together in bundles to make a decent practice swords (bo-ken) for myself and friends.

I'm fairly certain that a similar method (binding a large number of strips) would be successful in creating a reasonably durable bo staff for practice use. You'ld just have to be certain to bind the staff in say ... 5 locations spaced along the length of the weapon, and make certain that the ends and outer surface are perfectly smooth and free of splinters.

Dipping the item or coating it in some type of binder would further make it sturdy and strong. You could pick up some of the more commonly available types of tall grasses to experiment with and see what you're comfortable using. The only problem I see with it is that the individual splines might pinch your hands as they shift, which is why I would use a binder to keep it from shifting around ... but wrapping the entire staff in something like sports tape or medical self-sticking adhesive might work just as well.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:30AM
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