thinking about buying Phyllostachys aureosulcata advice needed

sifuz(z5 Illinois)September 1, 2009

I was thinking of buying Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. Spectabilis as a screening plant for against my neighbors. I was wondering how quickly does it grow and how much work would I need to keep it contained?


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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

That's a pretty bamboo and is much like any running bamboo in its growth habits. After you plant it, it will probably spend the first two years putting up a few new culms, but will be establishing itself underground and sending out some runners. In the third year you will get more substantial culm growth and it will be spread out from the main, original planting. It's hard to predict how much it will run, although it will keep wanting to spread out. I've had one in the ground for 5 years. This year it sent up growth about 3' out from the center in a coupe of directions. I have seen it spread out further and faster, though. I don''t think it's much work to maintain it, but there will be some. You have two choices:

  1. You can buy a specialty product called bamboo barrier, which is a hard plastic that comes in rolls and is anywhere from 40-80 mils thick by 30"-36" wide. You would have to dig a trench around your bamboo at least 24" deep, put the barrier in the ground, secure the plastic where it overlaps with a stainless steel bar, and then bury it. It will stop the rhizomes from expanding beyond that perimeter.

  2. You can do what I do, which is to rhizome prune every year at least once. This means digging into the soil all around your bamboo to find any rhizomes that have gone further than you want and to chop them off before they send up new growth. I generally use a pickaxe for this, and just chop in a circle around the plant. Most rhizomes don't go more than about 10" deep in the ground and it's not necessary to dig a big trench...just get the pick end into the ground so you can see if it encounters resistance where a root might be. If there is a root, cut it off with the pickaxe. Newer rhizomes that are chopped off generally die, but I tend to pry out the chopped off piece just to be safe. If, by chance, you miss a rhizome and you see some growth coming up in your lawn, it's not a big deal (unless you have a perfect lawn): you can just trace the rhizome back in a roughly straight line from the nearest aboveground growth, decide where you want to stop the plant and chop the rhizome; then pry the severed section out of the ground. You don't have to get every tiny piece...just the main root. This process can take me anywhere from 2 minutes to a half an hour per bamboo plant depending on what growth has occurred underground, how big I want to let that grove get, and how mature the plant is. It also helps if you plant the bamboo in a slight mound. I put many of mine in a mound about 6"-12" high and about 6' in diameter. This tends to keep rhizomes nearer the surface, and sometimes they will even be along the top of the ground for a bit and this all helps make it easier to spot them.

Lastly, and, I hope, obviously, don't plant the bamboo right on the property line or next to a fence, as that will complicate your efforts to contain it and to keep it from getting into your neighbor's yard before you can catch it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2009 at 1:10PM
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newgen(9 Central California)

I just planted 2 spectabilis next to a fence, BUT there's no house on the other side of the fence, just an empty lot. I want to get some shade from these bamboos. Hopefuly, they don't damage the fence with their growth. Great advice, thanks!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 4:29PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Bamboo won't damage a fence...they'll just send up shoots around it. However, someone must own that empty lot, and could be annoyed if they end up with a grove of bamboo on their property some day.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:43AM
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newgen(9 Central California)

My housing community is fairly new, the lot next to my house is not suitable to build a house on, so it'll remain empty for the foreseeable future, unless the developer wants to build a playground/park like they originally wanted to, until the recession set in. No worry, I'll just cut off any shoots that become too much.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 4:06PM
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