Starting a Bamboo Garden in Colorado / phyllostachys atrovaginata

tjchermackDecember 2, 2007

Greetings! I am new -- new to the forum, new to colorado, and new to bamboo! I am getting started here and would generally LOVE any advice and expertise that might come my way.

I have spent time online, learning about bamboo, but I have so much to learn, so let me run my "concept" by you and if any of you have advice, please chime in!

The facts:

--I have a new house in Fort Collins, CO (Zone 5-6).

--New construction = sandy, clay soil, that has been driven over many times by heavy construction vehicles.

--I have a small backyard of about 50' X 18' in which I would like to grow bamboo

--I would like to use about half of this space for a bamboo grove (say 25' X 18')

--This area gets half to full sun all summer long, and is shadier in the winter.

My ideas:

--I have found the phyllostachys atrovaginata to be a bamboo that has the look I want, and it seems like it would tolerate winters here.

--I have close neighbors, so containment is important. I have time to spend tending to my bamboo, so I would not attempt to plant and forget. From what I have read, a trench surrounding the entire area with pruning 1-3 times per season seems like the most effective method.

--I am assuming a 2' deep trench all the way around would be adequate.

--I am toying with the idea of creating a path THROUGH this bamboo grove. It would be ideal if I could go and sit "in" the bamboo, with a small bench or something. I have not seen any photos of any groves done like this, but I am going to try.

--I have read that these should be planted every 5', which means that I should plan to purchase roughly 12 plantings (5 gal or larger).

My questions for all of you experts at the moment are these:

1) Is this a species of bamboo that will do well in my zone?

2) Will I be relatively safe in assuming that I can control this bamboo and prevent it from popping up in all of my neighbors' yards by pruning consistently?

3) If this bamboo gets half sun, will it still grow?

4) Any guesses on how tall these will grow?

5) Is 12 5-gallon plantings for this area too many? Too few?

6) Any guesses on how many years it will take for these to "fill in" and look like a grove?

7) Does anyone have experience with creating a path THROUGH the bamboo grove?

8) What are the errors in my plan? What am I overlooking? Your advice will be most appreciated!!!


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Ph. atrovaginata should do well in your area, but I would buy one and try it. See if you like it and if it likes your area before you buy more. The ABS lists it as 2.8" X 35' when mature. The various Phyllostachys I have been slow to gain size here. They do not get as much water as they would like. The number of pots you plant will increase the speed with which it will fill in the area where you want it. If you fertilize well with high nitrogen fertilizer, mainly where you want them to grow, and water it well, it should spread reasonably fast. I expect getting height will take several years from a 5 gal pot.

Mike near Brenham TX

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 7:30PM
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I just thought I would add that Brad Salmon has a great site with info on bamboos growing in a similar 5/6 zone to yours in case you had not seen it.

Mike near Brenham TX

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 9:33PM
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Thank you Mike. I have to get this approved by my neighborhood's Design Review committee to, so I submitted the plan today. Nothing can get planted until March / April here anyway, so I've got time.

Thank you so much for your advice. Perhaps I'll start with one and see how it goes -- or maybe I'll just commit to it and see what happens.

What is your experience with root pruning? I'm planning on a raised bed with a trench, so hopefully with a little observation, this will be easy to contain.
Thanks again, Mike!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 6:22PM
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So... it's a year later, and I'm curious how tjchermack did with the bamboo, as I'd also like to plant some!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 4:19PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

You may want to look at my reply to "Large Bamboo for Buffalo, NY." If you are indeed in Zone 4/5, you're going to have a very tough time keeping bamboo alive through the winter. The maximum low temp that the hardiest bamboo can service is about -20F. Here is a picture of a Phyllostachys nuda -- one of the hardiest bamboos you can find -- after experiencing -12F weather. I'm not trying to discourage you, but I don't want you to be surprised if the experiment fails.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ph. nuda at -12F

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 2:17PM
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