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PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools:
I would like to have some bamboo planted in my backyard for privacy. However, I am uncertain as to which species will work the best. The planting area will be about 8 feet by 2 feet near a wooden fence. The area does get some sun but is mostly shady. I am looking for bamboo that is fast growing but not invasive. I want it to grow upwardly fast (no more than 30 feet) but I don't want it to invade my neighbor's property on the other side of the fence. Could you recommend at least three different bamboo species that would work for this area?
In the December 2005 issue of Horticulture magazine, local author Val Easton recommends a number of different clumping bamboos. (You should choose clumping rather than running bamboo for your privacy screen, as they will not be likely to invade your neighbor's property.)
Here are three recommendations from her article:
Borinda macclureana - hardy to USDA Zone 7 part sun, 12 - 20 feet tall
Fargesia robusta - hardy to USDA Zone 6, dense erect to 16 feet
Thamnocalamus tessellatus - hardy to USDA Zone 7 upright to 16 feet
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I have a bamboo, Fargesia nitida, 'Blue Fountain Bamboo,' that seems to be blooming this year. Are other specimens of this species blooming in Seattle this year? (I heard a rumor that blooming is synchronized among bamboo plants.) Will it die? Will it produce seeds without a "partner"? I am curious since blooming bamboo isn't something you see every year in Seattle.
My best suggestion is to look at specialist nurseries in your area, or contact your local Parks Department to see if there are any public gardens where you can view other specimens of Fargesia.
As far as the question of whether your plant will die after flowering, here is an article abstract about this subject (which does suggest that the plant will die, but also indicates that this is a time of opportunity to propagate the bamboo).
I also found some general information about propagating bamboo from the American Bamboo Society:
Q. How do I propagate bamboo?
Bamboo is usually propagated by digging up part of a clump of existing bamboo and moving it elsewhere. The vast majority of propagating is done that way and it results in most plants of most varieties in the U.S. being clones. If you divide a bamboo plant and put it in a new location, it usually doesn't do much for the first few growing seasons. The first two years it puts out roots in its new location and usually by the third year it starts putting out larger culms. By the fourth or fifth years it's putting out culms as large as that plant ever will in that location, with that much sun and that much water in that kind of soil.
Bamboo flowers only rarely, (sometimes there's more than a person's lifetime between flowerings) and when it does, it takes so much energy from the plant it often dies. People try various things to save them, like cutting back the culms and fertilizing generously, and sometimes that works.
It can also be propagated via germ plasm. A small number of cells are taken from some part of the plant and grown in glass dishes. Ordinary people don't do this, of course. Finally, with some tropical species, it's possible to bend a culm in an existing clump of bamboo down to the ground, stake it and cover it partially with soil. Be sure to cover several of the nodes of the culm, as that's where it will form roots. Don't let the soil dry out completely.
According the Plants for a Future database, Fargesia nitida flowers are hermaphroditic, and are pollinated by wind.
I found some anecdotal information about propagating Fargesia nitida from seed on the University of British Columbia's garden forum, shown below: You can harvest the seed individually by hand. But it seems the best way to know that it is ripe is to allow it to fall to the ground, as they only fall when they are ripe. In order to not leave things to chance, it is recommended that a piece of cloth or a tarpaulin be placed on the ground, and the seed bearing culm be shaken. The best germination rate is when the seeds are sown fresh.
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January 13 2017 10:35:53