Barrier method, Planting time, Cultivar

gardenecstasy(5a)September 19, 2012

Hi new to GardenWeb first post.

I've always loved bamboo but extremely apprehensive rather more like scared of planting it. I desperately need a screen for my back yard and have the idea of planting cold hardy Running bamboo in 55gallon plastic barrel halves but before I commit I want some expert advise.

1: Plan on digging the barrels without drainage holes about 2ft deep; like a large container planting. Is this sufficient room for a mid-sized running bamboo and will it contain it?

2:When is the best time to buy and plant bamboo. Any online nursery suggestions, or someone needing to divide (I'd pay shipping)

3: Finally any cultivar suggestions I know nothing about bamboo just that I want something with high a impact trunk and screens well.

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If you are in zone 5a, likely, your season, and soil heat may not even be enough for running bamboo to make a good screen, and unless you tarp the bamboo every single winter, it will probably die back.

If you do plant it, I would suggest going with the absolute hardiest bamboos such as phyllostachys virella, phyllostachys bissetii, or phyllostachys propinqua beijing. Phyllostachys aureosulcata spectabilis is pretty hardy as well. If you want a large culm, then be prepared to protect them every single winter, but the atrovaginata, dulcis, prominens, parvifolia, and shanghai III species will provide that. If you are in the US, then I do have some bamboos, but nothing small enough to ship at the time.

For zone 5a, I would suggest planting something hardier for a screen like blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes, grapes, kiwi plants, or anything that will handle your climate without needing to be covered up every winter.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Your reply is much appreciated and helpful. I would plant a hedge of blueberry broken up with miscanthus if not for my neighbors bird feeder addiction attracting them in flocks. I really enjoy the contrast between the trunk and foliage of Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabili' and 'Aureocaulis'
but any 2" diameter or larger Phyllostachys will suffice. I don't mind a high maintenance yard after doing a 300sqft vegetable garden for years.

I've found this site( which if full of good information.

I'm in Southern WI btw. Let me know when you have something.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 1:37PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Planting in buried half barrels is not a good idea. I have a friend who did this and here is what happened: the bamboo was fine for a couple of years, but as it grew it got root-bound and begin to look ragged. When he tried to divide it, the rhizomes were so profuse and woody that he couldn't get down through the root mass to extract pieces of it. In addition, the filled container was so heavy he couldn't get it out of the ground. As a result, he has a couple of clumps of terrible looking bamboo sitting along his fence line.

If you want to plant running bamboo, and want to contain it, do it properly with bamboo barrier. It works, and your bamboo will stay healthy looking because you have not restricted the natural flow of sub-surface moisture as you would with planting in a container with no drainage holes. I have about 60 running bamboo. Some I contain by rhizome pruning, and some I keep in check with barrier. Here is a link to what's involved with putting in barrier.

Here is a link that might be useful: Installing barrier

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 3:22PM
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I've seen clumping bamboo potted at botanical gardens; is it the same story as your friend or can the root structures of clumping and running bamboo be treated like a tree container planting. Unpotting & cutting the roots down every year as needed for the container size. I read that you can cut stalks to keep them from growing taller leaving it to grow only more foliage does doing this promote running or stunt the grown of the entire plant?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Garden Ectasy, you can probably get some bamboos from somebody off of bambooweb here:

I don't have any spare divisions of anything hardy for zone 5 now, but I might be able to grab rhizome divisions in the spring depending on how much the rhizomes grow.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:08PM
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