The following are general questions from our customers regarding bamboo cultivation. We try to provide thorough and accurate answers to any bamboo related inquiries. Take a few minutes to read through some of the correspondences listed below, covering a wide range of bamboo related topics. You may find just the answer you are looking for. Each letter begins with a Subject: ... for your reference. Customer questions are standard font and our responses are in bold. Feel free to email us your own inquiries as well.
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FAQs General Bamboo Care
Subject: Cold Hardy Bamboo
Good afternoon from New York City.
I am interested in planting a tall bamboo privacy screen/hedge at our home
in Morristown, NJ (Zone 6-7). It would be located along our property line,
half of which is rather wet for approximately 10 feet at the northern end.
It is on the western side of our property, shaded/dapple shaded most of the
day, with a little sun in late afternoon as the sun moves west. The length
of the hedge will be probably at least 20 feet, again, again, with half of
the area rather wet and the other half slightly higher and drier.
I am interested in fast growing bamboo, with complete height at 12-18 feet
high. As the area on our side of the property line is woodland...I think
that clumping bamboo would work as long as we could make sure it does not
cross the property line as our neighbors will most likely freak.
Alternatively I could go with non-clumping bamboo that requires professional
planting to keep it from spreading into our neighbors yard (i.e., something
that would form a straight line along the property line, ideally a screen
that is at least 1.5 - 2 feet deep.
Anyway, I'm leaning towards Fargesia murielae and/or fargesia dracocephala.
Are there any others in particular that you would suggest for your
woods/property line. Again, our property where the bamboo will go is
woodland, wet in areas, dappled sun late in the day.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions....I want to decide on this and place
an order with your company and get the plants headed to the east coast! Or
if you have any nursery's you deal with here in New Jersey where I could
purchase your plants and hire someone that knows how to plant them so they
do not invade the neighbors perfect lawn that would be great as well!
As long as the bamboo wouldn't be in standing water any of the cold hardy
Fargesias would do very well in that setting as they prefer shade/filtered
F. murielae and F. dracocephala are great choices for a hedge with an
elegant weeping effect. If you like a more upright look then something like
Fargesia robusta "Green Screen" would also be ideal.
would also be ideal.
Clumping bamboo is not invasive and will maintain a tight cluster of canes
that will spread only a few inches per year rather than the 3 - 5ft that
running bamboo spreads per year. This makes maintenance a lot easier and
there is little risk of it spreading into your neighbor's yard.
We generally recommend planting 3 - 5ft apart so for a screen of around 20ft
7 1-gallon plants would be sufficient. You can take advantage of our shipping discount with a package of 10 plants and plant them a couple of feet apart giving you a fuller look, in a shorter amount of time.
Please contact us if you would like any more information.
Yanick @ Bamboo Garden
Subject: Hardy bamboo questions + containment
Hello John,The bamboo control barrier will, in time, need to be replaced, it is not guaranteed to prevent rhizome spread 100% and should be utilized in conjunction with routine rhizome pruning and maintenance.
As far as mixing different species, it is not really recommended because different species have different growth rates and one species might crowd out a slower growing species. For example, P. dulcis is an aggressive grower and P. edulis and P. bambusoides take a little longer to get established in zone 7 climates so if you were to plant them together it is likely that the dulcis would take over and crowd out the others. You could plant the same species with different cultivars and intermingle them, for example, P. bambusoides 'All Gold' mixed with P. bambusoides 'Castillon Inversa'.
All bamboos are evergreen and while they may shed some leaves during the year it is not a significant amount. That's the wonderful thing about bamboo, when everything has died back during the winter it remains vibrant and green.
Please refer to our shipping prices here as costs vary according to size and quantity ordered http://www.bamboogarden.com/Shipping%20cost.htm
If you have further queries or would like to place an order please contact us.
Subject: Winter preparation
Dottie,Glad to hear most of your bamboo is doing well. You should provide a thick, 4-6 inch layer of mulch, compost or fine bark. Manure and tree chips work also. You will need to water less during the winter, if at all, as you probably will get plenty of rain. Also the bamboo is mostly dormant in the winter and needs less water.
In extreme cases, cold, dry wind can ravage the foliage but the rhizomes and roots will survive and resprout in the spring if well mulched. During severe weather, you can cover the foliage of your young bamboo with burlap, shade cloth, or an anti-desiccant product. If they are buried in snow, it will actually benefit the bamboo during extreme cold because the snow provides a layer of insulation and block the wind.
I have been checking out your web site. I love all of your timber bamboos.
I am doing research for my future bamboo groves and I have two
questions for you.
what is your lowest temperature in your area? And what is your growing
I am trying to draw a reference line some how because each bamboo
nursery displays different
information about cold hardy bamboos.
I am from zone 6 and if you are from same zone, I would be able to
have the timber bamboos you have displayed on your website?
Thank you for your help in advance.
Subject: Winter and Bamboo
Subject: Cold Hardy Clumping Bamboo
It is much more cost- and time-effective to make a screen with running bamboo. Runners will fill in the space between the plantings quickly and evenly, while clumpers spread outward a few inches a year on a circular base. Clumpers are wider at the top than at the bottom, so the foliage will blend together at eye level faster than the base of the clumps will grow together, but it is still a longer process than with runners, and you'll be able to distinguish between the different plants in a clumping screen. Runners will run together, and after three or four years you won't be able to tell where you planted.
Another important consideration is the sun exposure. The clumpers that you can grow in zone 6 prefer at least afternoon shade, and most will get around 12' tall. Runners are mostly full-sun plants, and shade will slow down their growth. Semiarundinaria fastuosa is a running bamboo, as are most of the plants that have interesting canes. Since the cold-hardy clumpers are short and bushy, they have small canes and you need to be up close to appreciate their colors (bluish wax on some of the new canes, or an orange-red sheath around the branches, for instance). Some plants need sun to bring out their color; S. fastuosa canes are usually green, but turn burgundy when exposed to strong sunlight.
To make a screen, plant 1 gallon runners about 3' apart. They should fill in that space in 2-3 years, gaining height all the while--each year, the canes that come up will be larger than last year's canes. Bamboo only grows above ground during a two-month shooting period in the spring, so it takes a few years to produce enough growth to make an effective screen. Bamboo also grows faster once it's established; in accordance with the old dictum "the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps," you might see three shoots the first spring, eight the following, and twenty the third spring. This process is roughly the same between runners and clumpers, but runners will produce large canes anywhere from a few inches to a few feet away from the old canes, while clumpers will put up shoots only a few inches from last year's growth. Don't crowd runners by planting too many together at the beginning. It won't make your bamboo grow large any faster, and it will just cause problems later when there's too much rhizome in too small of an area. Clumpers will eventually get around 5' across at the base, but if you want to plant them more closely, you can.
To keep leaf litter out of your neighbor's yard, keep at least three feet of space between the edge of the bamboo and the fence. Once you put the plants in the ground, you can mulch them with compost, manure, etc. (and make sure to water them well!). The bamboo generally isn't too picky about soils, but it does like lots of water.
Here are a few bamboos hardy for zone 6:
Fargesia murielae (clumper)
F. sp. 'Rufa' (clumper)
Phyllostachys aureosulcata (runner)
P. bissettii (runner)
Hope this helps
Subject: Privacy Screen
Hello Brian and Yvette,I would recommend having a look at cold hardy clumping bamboos such as:
These species, as well as
being cold hardy, prefer more shade and filtered sunlight as you describe so
they will thrive in that location. The only drawback with these are that
they will not reach anywhere near the desired height of 25ft (they will get
10 - 15ft maximum), and they are not as vigorous in their growing habits as
the running bamboos. They will generally grow 1 - 3ft in height per year and
will spread a few inches per year, whereas running bamboos will spread and
grow in height around 3 - 5ft per year.
Please contact us if you require further assistance.
Subject: Clumping Bamboo Screen
I live near Bellingham WA, out in the country, until 2 weeks ago had a nice natural screen between the house next door until the new owners decided they wanted to clean out all the natural brush between us. The area now is baron, and I get a great view of their garage and vehicles. I already have a small area of running bamboos in another area that I love, but I want a clumping variety to grow a natural fence and give my yard some privacy. The area is on the north part of my yard, but there are very tall trees there so only a little dappled shade, roughly 30 feet. What do you suggest? I want to be able to get enough bamboo to screen out the neighbors by the summer. Thanks Susan
How tall do you want the bamboo, and are you interested in a weepy or
upright look? Take a look at
Subject: Clumping Bamboo Growth pattern
Hello Aren,We're really glad that you found our staff helpful!
We actually ship plants in containers with soil which are then packaged in specially made boxes. There shouldn't be any problems waiting to plant the bamboo out, in fact you could order now and we can ship them at a later date when you are ready for them. We usually advise this to ensure availability but we currently have around 50 of the 1-gallon Bambusa multiplex 'Rivieriorum' in stock so I wouldn't have thought we'd sell out.
Subject: Warm Weather
Subject: bamboo in hot DRY climates
Here are some species known especially for heat tolerance:
Subject: Bamboo for wet area
There are a few species which have air canals in the rhizomes and
roots enabling them to tolerate wetter conditions than most bamboo:
Please contact us if you need further assistance or would like to place an order.
Subject: wind and salt tolerant bamboo
I don't know for sure, but they are all supposed to good for coastal conditions. Give it a try and let us know.
Using your support system when the plants are young is a good idea.
These bamboos have canes that are strong enough to withstand the wind. But the common problem with wind is when it is cold and dry which can damage the leaves but usually does not kill the entire plant. It sounds as though your conditions are not so cold and dry so these plants should be ok.
Subject: 1st year growth question
I just purchased and planted 2, 1 gal Japanese Timber bamboo a couple of weeks ago and they seem to be doing well. My question is, what should our expectations be this first year before Winter arrives? I guess what I mean is to what height should we expect for them to be considered healthy and make it through the Winter. We just wanted to know what to expect. I couldn't find anything on your website that gave 1st year specs or possibilities.
The canes you see growing in the pot now won't get any taller, and
should make it through the winter just fine. They make their main flush of
new shoots in the spring time. You might get a couple secondary shoots now
(August/Sept) ; they'll poke up and reach their full height hopefully before
it freezes, and the last step is that the leaves will open up. Once this has
happened, your above-ground growth for the year is over; the plant is ready
for winter and will be producing more roots underground. Next spring, bigger
shoots will come up in May, and the third year is generally when you see the
most impressive growth, both in terms of number of shoots and of shoot size.
Tall running bamboo increase in height 3-5 feet per year. In other words, if
your 2 gallon plant is 3 feet tall now, it should get up to 6-7 feet by mid
summer next year and so on.
Pruning will not make the canes any thicker. When the new shoots emerge in spring they remain the same diameter and when they reach their maximum height in the summer they will not get any taller. Pruning the tops will only increase leaf density to a certain extent.
I hope this information helps and if you have any further queries please contact us.
Subject: Pruning my Bamboo Grove
I have a fence line along my property that I
would like to cover with bamboo. Actually, I want to cover much more than
just the fence; I want the bamboo to be over 30 feet tall to cover the ugly
apartment building that sprung up next door. The growing area is only
about 5 feet wide, but over 40 feet long. It is a rather difficult area to
access for pruning but I can leave a small walkway along the house. I am
assuming a tall timber type bamboo would be the best choice? How are these
plants managed long term?
Running bamboos have rhizomes that can
Even inside a barrier, bamboo is not
maintenance-free; you'll need to check
Subject: Bamboo in Pots
Dear H S,
Subject: Indoor Bamboo
Indoor air tends to be dry,
especially in the winter when many homes have forced air heat. Many bamboos,
particularly Phyllostachys have thinner, more delicate leaves that can
suffer from this uniformly warm dry air. That is one reason some of our
indoor selections have larger, thicker, glossy leaves such as my #1 interior
plant: P. japonica. Most bamboos go through a period of winter dormancy in
which they do not need water for growth, just sustenance. Because of the
warm interior the soil (potting soil tends to have a high percentage of
organic matter) can rot, especially if kept continually wet or over watered.
Keep 'em on the dry side, not constantly soggy
Subject: Bamboo Plantation Project
I am writing because I am working
on a project site in Oakland, CA. We potentially have up to 10 acres of land
on which we would like to plant bamboo. The soil on this site is
contaminated with lead, petrochemicals and solvents. Will the soil need to
be treated or fertilized before planting the bamboo. One of the benefits we
have read about with bamboo is that it can help remedy contaminated soil and
clean the air. The site also gets good sunlight throughout the day and the
weather here is pretty mild, warm to hot summers and cooler winters but we
rarely get any frost or extreme cold. The site is an open lot surrounded by
streets on all four sides so I am assuming we would want to install a root
barrier, but I am also not sure if the need for a root barrier depends on if
we select clumping versus running bamboo. We would like a fast growing
bamboo and we plan to harvest and use the bamboo. I am putting together a
proposal for this Thursday so as much information as you could provide as
soon as possible would greatly appreciated!! I have created a list of the
main questions I have below:
2. How many gallons of bamboo would you recommend planting in a 10 acre site to fill it out?
3. How much would it cost to buy that amount of bamboo, please include shipping cost?
4. How much would it cost to buy and ship the root barrier for a 10 acre site (approximately 8,400ft)
5. Would we need to treat the soil before planting?
6. How often do you harvest the crop?
7. What are the typical treatment and maintenance procedures and costs that go along with having a crop that size?
Thank you very much for your
help, if there is any other information that I can provide to help you
answer my questions please do not hesitate to contact me!
Sounds like quite a project! Bamboo is an excellent choice for a multi-use crop in addition to a natural decontaminant for both soil and air.
There are several points to consider; I will attempt to give you a useful, general outline:
1. What type of soil is present at this site? Was it formerly industrial? Is there a way to measure the intensity of the contaminants to determine if they are still present in a high enough volume to damage newly planted bamboo?
In any case, I would recommend importing some kind of loose, loamy topsoil to give the newly planted bamboo a head start. It would take a tremendous amount of mulch to cover 10 acres completely. As a compromise, I recommend starting with enough to provide each bamboo with a 10 foot diameter x 6 inch deep layer. As the bamboo matures, it will create its own leaf mulch which will aid in expansion beyond the initial planting bed.
2. Irrigation. Any type of bamboo will need consistent irrigation during the summer in order to survive the first two years. Beyond the third year, irrigation is less important as the bamboo becomes larger, deeper rooted, and hence, more drought resistant. However, occasional saturation will provide better growing conditions and you will have a more successful crop.
There are many different methods of irrigation to choose from, but if I had to pick one, it would be a relatively new company called Floppy Sprinkler, due to their water and energy efficiency. Here is a link to their website: http://www.floppysprinkler.com/
3. Maintenance. Bamboo will require a fair amount of maintenance. Fertilizing, weed control, containment, etc. Will there be machinery available to assist with this process? (highly recommended for an area of that size). Rhizome barrier is not recommended for an area of that size, especially if there is a tractor with a plow on site. Barrier is a major an unnecessary expense (8,400ft x $1.5 per foot = $12,600), as the rhizomes exist in the upper 10 inches of soil, so routine plowing along the outside of the beds will adequately contain the bamboo. Barrier is most often used in small city lots, where root pruning is not possible.
4. Time line. How long are you willing to wait for the bamboo to mature? This (and your budget) will determine what size of bamboo to start with (there are many sizes, from 1 gallon to 25 gallon, ranging in height from 2 feet to 25 feet tall)
For example, a one gallon Phyllostachys bambusoides (Japanese Timber Bamboo) is about 2 feet tall. It will put on about 2 feet of growth in the first year, 3-5 feet the next, 4-8 feet the third year. In other words, after 3 years, a plant started from a one gallon would be about 12 to 16 feet tall. A five gallon plant starts at 4-5 feet tall so it would achieve the same height in 2 years. A ten gallon is about 8-10 feet tall so it would achieve the same height in one year. At maturity, Phyllostachys bamusoides reaches an impressive height of over 50 feet. Expect at least 10 years to reach maturity from a one gallon plant, a year less for each size larger. Follow me?
5. Spacing. Each individual bamboo plant should have about 25 feet of space (which is enough area to allow it to reach mature height). Keep in mind you will probably need to create a grid network for roads for access for maintenance, irrigation, etc.
6. Bamboo use. Determine your main focus of bamboo use. Are you interested in propagating live plant material to sell in the horticulture trade, or are you mainly focused on harvesting large bamboo culms for timber? Shoots for food, or all of the above? In any case, there are many different bamboo that are useful and well suited to grow in your area.
7. Multiple species. I recommend using at least three different types of
bamboo. Diversity is important in case one species goes into flower, you
will be able to continue using the other two as the flowering bamboo
Link to this page in order to see our large Timber bamboo selection: http://www.bamboogarden.com/Timber%20Bamboos.htm
This page has smaller Phyllostachys that are usually under 30 feet:
Almost all Phyllostachys are well adapted to grow in Northern CA. I would recommend them over any other genus pf bamboo. Three of the more useful Phyllostachys are P. aurea, P. nigra, and P. bamusoides. They cover a wide array of height, culm shape, culm color, and have relatively strong wood.
To give a price quote, we will need to figure how many plants to start with, what size, and what species. I hope I have provided enough information so that you can determine these figures. If you would like further assistance in plotting it all out, I would be glad to help. Don't hesitate to call or email.
Thank you for the inquiry,
Thank you so much for getting back to me! That information is very helpful! I do not know the intensity of the contaminants in the soil, the lot was previously owned by Caltrans and runs along side the freeway. If we were to find out that it was highly contaminated would you recommend treating the soil before planting the bamboo?
What does the root pruning machinery entail? Could you provide more information on what we would need to purchase and how frequently we need to prune the roots to maintain a healthy crop?
What is involved in harvesting
the bamboo if we intend to use the bamboo as timber?
If the land runs adjacent to the freeway, it probably has a fair amount of pollutants from constant traffic, but likely not at a high enough level to inhibit bamboo growth. I recommend testing the soil to determine the level of pollutants present.
What are the dimensions of the acreage? It is a long narrow strip, or more of a square shape?
Root pruning is only necessary for containment of the bamboo. Its overall health is not dependant on root pruning. We use a Kubota tractor with a plow, when manual labor is not practical. Because our nursery is 16 acres, this enables us to keep pace with rapid bamboo growth!
While you can expect 5-10 feet of spread per year from a healthy Phyllostachys grove, it will not be able to grow under, or cause any damage to the freeway. However, if the culms grow too close to the road they may lean over, causing a traffic hazard. I recommend creating a smaller, gravel access road between the freeway and the bamboo ( and at least 30 feet distance, see attached illustration). Bamboo is rarely able to spread into compact, dry gravel areas. In general, root pruning (plowing) should be done 2-3 times per year, in the Summer through late Fall to provide effective rhizome control. You can plow along the inside border of the access roads.
Culm harvesting should be done once per year in the Summer through Fall. No more than about 30% of the culms should be harvested. Selectively cut culms at the base with a hand saw. Target culms that are older than 2 years (new culms grow in the spring, but remain relatively soft until they over winter). Bamboo is a giant grass, and grows as such: The new shoots emerge in the spring, growing an inch to several inches per day. They reach maximum height and leaf out by mid summer. The youngest culms are often the largest with the most vibrant color, but they should not be harvested until at least 2 years old. Each spring, a healthy bamboo grove will send out larger and larger culms until they reach their maximum height. For example, a Phyllostachys that is 12 feet tall, with a dozen culms, (three years old) will produce a dozen to twenty more culms the following spring that will grow to 14 to 17 feet by summer, more than doubling its mass in one growing season.
Braches and leaves should be pruned on site and left at the base of the bamboo to decompose and recycle nutrients. Culms should be stored in a shaded, dry area, outside, or in a large, unheated warehouse (if the humidity is too low the culms may split as they dry). The drying process takes at least one year. There are many different methods of treating bamboo culms for longevity. I recommend The Bamboo Preservation Compendium as a good reference for technical details.
Let me know if I can answer any more questions or provide a price quote. I am particularly interested in this project, as I have long thought bamboo has potential to use as a sort of filter for traffic noise and pollution.
I am very thankful for your help and glad to hear you are interested by this project! Your information is very helpful!! We are looking at two potential sites, I have attached images of them both. The first is an approximately 5 acre parcel, and the second is the 13 acre site. They are both near the freeway and both previously Caltrans sites which contain contaminated soil. I am trying to put together a proposal that gives an idea of how many bamboo plants we would need and what the associated costs would be on a per acre basis, just because we donít know exactly what size lot we will be dealing with yet I think my presentation will be more effective if I can give them a general idea of costs on a per acre basis. So I did a quick square grid of an acre and if each tree needs 25 feet of space around it I came up with an 8x8 grid of trees, (each square 25ftx25ft) so thatís 64 trees per acre for just a general idea, please feel free to correct me if you think thatís inaccurate or impossible, but if we were to do the three types of Phyllostachys that you recommended: P. aurea, P. nigra, and P. bamusoides, what would that cost us to get an assortment of those three? And how much would the fertilizer cost for each tree to have a 10 foot diameter x 6 inch deep layer as you suggested? Are those types of bamboo running or clumping?
Do the culms need a year to dry after harvesting regardless of what their intended use is, or is that only if we want them to be used as timber? What if we were using the bamboo for art projects or hardwood floors?
If you can please put together some pricing information for the parameters I have listed above that would be incredibly helpful! Thank you!!
Thank you for sending the aerial photos. 64 plants per acre is a good starting point.
I would like to discuss wholesale bamboo prices over the telephone. I will try to give you a call or you can call me @ 503-647-2700
I will touch on commercial shipping briefly:
Shipping: The standard rate for a 53 foot semi to your area varies between $2000 and $2500, so it is dependant on a quote from a freight company at the time of shipment.
We can stack many bamboo into one truck, approximately:
1200 5 gallon plants (or about $2 per plant)
700 10 gallon plants ($3.25 per plant)
300 15 gallon ($7.50 per plant)
125 25 gallon ($18 per plant)
The cost of topsoil is probably something you should investigate from local sources, as shipping from Oregon would be cost prohibitive. On a per acre basis I estimate you will need about 32 yards of soil for the initial planting (.5 yards per plant). After 3 years, I recommend adding another 64 yards per acre. Preparation of the soil already existing on site may be expensive, as, courtesy of Google street view, I can see the site on has a lot of concrete rubble, which may need to be moved with heavy machinery before any planting can be done. (see attachment).
Locally, mulch, compost and topsoil mixture cost about $25 per yard, which would put the soil cost at approximately $800 per acre.
Irrigation may be difficult to set up. I don't know where to begin with outlining a cost for irrigation, as that is not part of our profession. Previously, I emailed a link to Floppy Sprinkler, here it is again: http://www.floppysprinkler.com/
Installing a drip irrigation may be the most cost effective, and efficient on water supply but it has limitations as it can only irrigate where drip nozzles are present. Do you have access to city water at these sites?
Culms should be dried if you intend to use them for anything outdoors exposed to the elements.
Lots of things to consider. I really hope you can get approval to go ahead with this project as I think it is an important stepping stone for bamboo in general to expand beyond horticulture and into serious consideration as an agricultural crop within the United States. Good Luck!