These tall and graceful fast-growing evergreens are robust clump forming perennials that can be grown to form a dense barrier/screen or a green backdrop to other planting. A wide range of forms are available, diverse in both size and habit.
Family: Poaceae (grasses)
Botanical Names: Various forms include: Arundinaria, Fargesia, Phyllostachys, Pleioblastus, Pseudosasa and Semiarundinaria.
Common Name: Bamboo
Foliage: Evergreen lance-shaped leaves on tall jointed stems.
Soil: Moist fertile soil. Best in a deep rich loam, clay or sand. Any pH. Do not allow the roots to dry-out.
Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered possition. Protect from cold winds.
Habit: Tall, upright, clump forming.
Type: Woody perennial.
Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy in the UK.
Potted specimens are best planted in the spring. Add humus rich matter to the planting backfill, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost, to improve the soil's water-retaining capacity.
Small clump forming bamboos are ideal for growing in containers or large pots. Plant in a loam based potting compost such as John Innes No 3.
Invasive bamboos can be contained within a physical barrier, such as such as vertical paving slabs or a root barrier fabric buried around the edge of the planting hole. This will help to prevent the roots spreading throughout the garden or worse still, into a neighbours garden.
Water regularly during dry spells. Apply a high nitrogen feed in the spring and a balanced fertiliser for the rest of the growing season.
To display the bamboo canes their best, you can strip some of the foliage from the lower parts of the canes, if required.
No pruning necessary. Cut down any weak, dead or damaged canes in the spring. Remove any dead or diseased leaves.
Generally trouble free.
Divide plants in the spring or early autumn and replant immediately.
A wide range of varieties are available from tall invasive forms to dwarf clump forming types.
Arundinaria variegata (Sasa variegata) is a dwarf form with attractive green and white striped leaves. Height to 3ft (1m).
Fargesia murielae (umbrella bamboo) is a medium sized bamboo that makes a fine specimen as a focal point in a lawn. It has slender arching canes and dark green leaves. Height to 10ft (3m). Available at Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan.
Fargesia nitida is similar to murielae but has dark purple stems. Available at Gardening Express.
Fargesia papyrifera (Blue Dragon) is an unusual and rare form Blue Stem Bamboo. Clumping forming with a vertical upright habit. Available at Gardening Express.
Pleioblastus viridistriatus is another short form with brightly striped green and gold leaves. Height to 4ft (1.2m).
Phyllostachys aurea (Fish-pole Bamboo) is a strong-growing evergreen with stiff caramel coloured canes. Clump forming in the UK. RHS AGM awarded. Height to 26ft (8m), spread to 13ft (4m). Available from Thompson & Morgan.
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis (Golden Chinese Timber Bamboo) is an easy to grow, fully hardy, evergreen form. The arching butter-yellow canes are attractively striped with green. Height to 20ft (6m), spread to 10ft (3m). Available from Thompson & Morgan.
Pseudosasa japonica (arrow bamboo) a vigorous species that is ideal for use as a screen. Very hardy but it can be invasive. Height to 15ft (4.5m).
Yushania anceps (Indian fountain bamboo) has tall arching stems that branch out at the nodes. Excellent for screening. Can be invasive. Height to 15ft (4.5m).