Least Dangerous Bamboo Privacy Screen?

jaxoOctober 20, 2013

There is a link to an article that flat out says bamboo is to be avoided.
Bottom line of the article:
"Bamboo may seem like an attractive garden option, but it poses serious problems. Stick to a lucky bamboo in a small indoor pot, or avoid growing bamboo altogether "

There are also videos on youtube of bamboo nightmares.
This guy said he planted a few bamboo plants and fast forward 10 years and now he has an out of control forest that has destroyed his property.


The clumping varieties are supposed to be less dangerous, but the article below says that even clumping varieties can be risky.

So, if I were to still consider planting bamboo, what are the safest varieties that will do what I want or is there a risk in every type of bamboo suitable for a privacy screen?

I need to block the view from the upstairs neighbors windows and will relocate the small emerald green Thujas shown with something else that grow to size much faster.
It needs to fit in a 36 inch deep space, grow upwards to over 12ft feet and grow thick and close enough together to effectively block the view from the neighbors windows without spreading uncontrollably and ending up on the other side of the fence.
Since it is only 3 feet deep space between the fence and the flagstone patio, wouldn't even a "clumping" variety possibly spread and pop up new growth on the other side of the wood fence when in such a narrow area?
I'm in California in borderline zone 8 to zone 9..
Summers are hot and dry, but winters can get below 20 degrees at night for at least the deepest part of the middle of winter.

I'm thinking about Fargesia robusta. Is there a better choice for the area in the photo?

Here is a link that might be useful: Dangerous Risk Of Planting Bamboo

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Bamboo is NOT the nightmare that people say it is. These people are the ones who plant a running bamboo and give it absolutely no care and think everything will be fine, but not so.

If you are worried, plant clumping bamboo.

I can't speak for California, but in the same zone(zone 8 to zone 9) here in Texas, I think that a bambusa would do just fine and without any worry of the stories that you've seen.

Fargesias don't do well here.

If you are wanting only 12 feet in height, remember, the plant won't be solid at 12 feet, so you might want to plant a taller bamboo. Bambusa multiplex 'Golden Goddess' gets about 14 to 15 feet tall here. Many other bambusas will get to similar heights.

Click the link below for more varieties. Scroll down to the Bambusas.


Here is a link that might be useful: American Bamboo Society

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 9:56PM
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10 feet might be enough as long as it is thick at that height.
The fence is at 6 ft, so I think another 4 of dense foliage would be enough to block their from that window.
More height would add some cushion.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Running bamboos in Eastern Zone 7's plus ARE extremely aggressive! Maybe less of a problem in drier climates or cooler, Summer climates. I ended up having to eradicate a grove of Black, Golden, P. vivax and viridis.

I was lucky, my neighbor is a landscaper who cut down the grove in two days and did not end up suing me! One day for removing the culms and the second day to till the soil to get rid of most of the rhizomes. I will be weeding for at least a few more years of surviving rhizomes. Yes, I do still grow clumpers and do not consider these to be a problem. I am growing Fargesia and some Borinda, maybe a Bambusa multiplex soon (if I can overwinter it). But Fargesia and Borinda are both rather temperamental outside of areas of the Pacific Northwest and a much smaller area of the coastal mid-Atlantic/Northeast zone 7.

The boo in the photo is Fargesia rufa and Borinda angustisima.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:29PM
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mimulus(z 10/24 SoCal)

The aggressiveness, spread, and height depends completely on which bamboo you choose. Most of the horror stories are about Golden Bamboo aka Phyllostachys aurea. I have grown and planted many types. I am a landscaper and I have planted and maintained many types for many clients. My advice is to do a little research and find out which type you would like the best and would work for your situation. 12 feet is a very short for a bamboo. If you like a type that may spread more than you want you can contain it with "bamboo barrier". Golden is beautiful, a very fast and full grower and makes a great privacy hedge but it must be kept contained. There are many types of bamboo that you can grow in your zone - both runners and clumpers. Some clumpers are called "open clumpers" because they do form a large and open clump - bigger than you want.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Mimulus, the runners you are growing in Southern Cal. though, may be a problem in the East where the Summer climate is wetter and more humid. I also found Black Bamboo (P. nigra) to be very 'robust' shall we say. And you hear most about Golden because it is so common.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 5:49PM
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Agreed. Golden is the most common, but there are dozens of other runners that are equally as invasive or even faster spreading, in my area.

My P. nigra, planted from a 1 gallon pot, popped up a new shoot 15 feet from the 'mother ' plant, 6 months after planting it.

Aggressiveness has a lot to do with the variety of the bamboo, AND the area and growing conditions that it is growing in. Which bamboo you choose is NOT the only factor involved. Environment, soil fertility, temperature, moisture, amount of sunlight, and a few other factors are the determining factor on how fast an actual bamboo species will spread. The genetics is there for a running bamboo to spread fast, but other factors will actually make the bamboo grow fast.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:46PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I am looking for a very fast growing privacy bamboo screen as well. The area has part sun and part dappled shade. I am in a zn 9a FL. Would the golden bamboo be a good option for me? How many plants would I need to plant along long 100 ft area?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 4:14PM
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SJN, I would go with clumping bamboo in your area. Depending on how high you need the screen to be, there are several bambusas that would serve the purpose.

Look at some of the Bambusa multiplex varieties. Golden Goddess would do well, and stays relatively short, about 12 to 14 feet in height. It would need to be planted about every 8 feet max and even 6 feet would be better.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 8:46PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Hi thank you for your advice! How long do you think it would take for the Green Goddess bamboo to get about 8 ft tall and fill in if I planted them every 6 feet? What size of starter plants should I be looking at (1 gal, 3 gal, etc)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 10:32AM
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Regarding the 1 gal or 3 gal pots, it depends on how established the plants are in those pots. I've seen some 1 gallon potted bamboos that were much better established and bursting to grow if given room to, and then I've seen some 3 gallon potted bamboos that were not much to speak of, so....

No matter what kind of bamboo that you plant, running or clumping, they will not do too much the first year in the ground although the clumpers generally put up more shoots sooner than runners. Here in zone 8b, I would get a relatively good screen within three years if they are kept watered well and given some extra fertilizer starting in it's second year.

There are several bamboo nurseries in Florida that can help you with your decision on plant size. I generally buy the 1 gallon pots and they grow as I mentioned above, but we have a very long growing season here, sometimes from February to November without frost.

There are several other Bambusa multiplex varieties that you might want to look into, but Golden Goddess is about the height that you will need and is a bit more upright. One other is B. mult. 'Silverstripe' but it leans outward quite a bit, but then you may be able to plant them even father apart to get the same effect, so you may look into prices on each kind.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:37PM
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botanicalbill(9b SWFlorida)

sultry_jasmine_night, I live in 9b, just south of you. I have planted both Asian Lemon and B. Gracilis, either of these will make awesome barriers. I prefer the Asian Lemon over the two because it grows straight as an arrow, gets about 20 feet, fills in at the bottom, and fills in very quickly (2 years from single clum transplants).

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 4:42PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Thank you both for your advice. Would it hurt to mix different types of bamboos together? I think I would need at least 8 ft. tall just for privacy.
It doesn't matter if it was taller though because half of the front (350 ft total) already has tall pines and other dense shrubs growing down it closest to the street.
There is a blank area about 100 ft between the backyard fence and these tall trees going down the side of the front property which is the area that I want to fill in with the bamboo. I don't want to spend a lot on a permanent fence all the 350 ft way to the street since I don't want to stay in this area long term.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 11:35AM
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I also grow both Asian Lemon and B. Gracilis but they are more expensive bamboos and grow much taller here, but if you do not mind height, they would also do.

You can mix them without any problem and by doing so, you can see which ones do best in your area. They do great when mixed.

The Asian lemon is not as cold hardy as the Golden Goddess and the Gracilis, but probably the prettiest of the three.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 2:15PM
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