Planting Black Bamboo questions

Yeti12July 31, 2011

I live in Los Angeles, and want to know if I use black bamboo for a privacy wall. Do I need to install a watering/drip system? How much water does black bamboo need? Special fertilizer or soil should I plant in. Where to buy Bamboo in bulk? If the wall is 150 ft long and I want the row 1plant thick how many plants should I buy. If I buy small plants how long does it take to grow to 8 to 10 feet?

Thank you for your advice.

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Try the Bamboo Garden. They are based out of Oregon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bamboo Garden

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 5:09AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

In Los Angeles, you probably would be smart to do drip irrigation. If your soil is even halfway decent, don't bother with amending it. A controlled release fertilizer (like Osmocote) is also a good idea.

Your main problem is that, if you want an instant privacy fence 150' long, it will be very expensive. Unless you have a nursery license so you can get it wholesale, don't be surprised if you have to pay at least $50 for a 5'-7' plant.

There are several kinds of black bamboo, and there are runners and clumpers. The advantage of the runners is that you could buy fewer plants and then take divisions as they send out rhizomes and you get new clumps. However, you will have to use bamboo barrier to keep it confined to hedge dimensions, and that will be a lot of work to install. On the other hand, if you get clumpers, you don't have to worry about barrier, as they will only get larger, but won't send out "satellite" plants. However, you will have to get a lot of plants and set them 3'-5' apart for a screening hedge. If you buy small plants, it will be quite a bit cheaper, but it might take 5 years for them to get to the 8' level.

I suggest you talk to a nursery in your area that specializes in bamboo to make sure you get the best-growing species for your Zone.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 2:22PM
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Hi Yeti,

First, you don't need to go to Oregon to get your plants. There are TONS of bamboo growers right here in S. Cal. I have the name of a couple if you're interested, or just google "bamboo s. cal"... that's how I found my vendors.

I planted a privacy row of Nigra in late 2008 in front of an existing fence. We built a planter out of concrete blocks and rebar, two blocks high filled with concrete, with 1' footings.

I bought my plants in 15gal pots and they were about 5-6' tall. I paid $650 (that was *mostly* for the black boo, but we did buy two other boo's that were more expensive that are included in that price). They have drip irrigation - we watered them daily/every other day for a few months until they were established. Now they are watered 2x a week.

The first year they put off culms that were bigger, and got to be about 8-10' tall. The second year they aborted almost every culm. This is the third year, and we have culms around 15' tall that are just now bushing out on top.

My biggest issue with the Nigra is that it is not that thick/dense of foliage, so it's not a great hedge in the sense of privacy. We have it against a fence, so it's not that big of a deal and it will grow in and look thicker eventually, but it's not a quick fix.

Compare that to our golden bamboos... whoah!!!! We planted that last year and it's so thick you can't see through it. And the growing conditions are the same.

The black looks really pretty next to the golden though. We have sections in our 100' length so the plants won't mix together (run together) and we have Nigra (black running), Chinese Temple (really gorgeous, varigated leaves, poofy foliage) and Golden (very thick, bright gold, varigated leaves) planted back there.

So. If I had to do it over again, based on my personal needs, I wouldn't plant so much Nigra. I would have used it for accents and used the golden for my hedge. It's brighter, it's thicker, and it grows a lot faster. But the black is really beautiful, and three years later I'm happy we planted it as we're pretty close to it filling in enough to make me satisfied. BUT... we can still see the tops of our neighbor's house, which is what we were trying to hide.

We throw Osmocote down a couple times a year. I posted some pics recently showing the culm width difference in our nigras over the years... funny how the culms seemed decent sized when we bought them, and now next to the new ones they don't look big enough to use as a toothpick.


What are you trying to block out? How much sun do you get? How tall does it need to be? What color would it be against? (we painted the fence before putting in the boo, and it made ALL the difference. Had we left it brown, the black would not nearly be as striking).

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 3:13PM
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correction, dh says the pots of nigra were 10 gal. not 15

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 1:41AM
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Hi Yeti,

The main thing to remember when choosing bamboo is it can be very invasive. I am not sure how invasive black bamboo is but I would do some research before going ahead. One of the fastest growing bamboo's is "Yellow Groove" which maybe an option for you. This article maybe of help to:

Let us know how you get on.

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 Non Invasive Bamboo Plants to consider

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:01AM
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