Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Bamboo | Search the catalog for: Bamboo

Recommended Websites

American Bamboo Society - Pacific Northwest Chapter

American Bamboo Society

More websites

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Thamnocalamus, Fargesia, Borinda, Screens, Bamboo

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

Local gardening expert Ciscoe Morris recommends Chusquea culeou and several species of Fargesia in his book Ask Ciscoe.

This article from Horticulture Magazine (May 2007) also has a good list of clumping bamboo:

  • Chusquea culeou
  • Fargesia robusta 'Wolong'
  • Borinda angustissima
  • Thamnocalamus crassinodus
  • Fargesia murielae
  • Thamnocalamus tessellatus
  • Borinda boliana
  • Chusquea culeo 'Cana Prieta'
  • Fargesia nitida

You might try the following two nurseries for availability: the Bamboo Garden Nursery and Beauty and the Bamboo.

Date 2019-04-25
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Transplanting, Bamboo

I transplanted some bamboo and now some of it is dying. Can you give me some information on how to transplant bamboo correctly?


The following is an excerpt from the American Bamboo Society webpage.

Q. How do I transplant part of a large clump of bamboo?
Transplanting is hard work and involves digging a large chunk of root ball out of the ground. Never transplant bamboo when it is shooting. Dig bamboo either very early in the spring before there's any chance of shooting or wait for the growth period to be over late in the autumn. You should look for a clump of culms that has come up in the last year or so and which includes at least three or four healthy-looking culms. A good size for the clump would be at least two feet in diameter. Bamboo roots (rhizomes) are tough but must not be allowed to dry out even for a few minutes. You may have to use a very sharp shovel, ax or saw to separate the roots from the rest of the grove. If you will be transferring the division by truck, then water the leaves and roots well, wrap the whole thing in plastic and get it into the ground as quickly as possible.

Date 2019-06-06
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Container gardening, Bamboo

I am new to the area, and am renting a house that has 3 containers of bamboo plants on the deck. Two of them appear to be dead or dying, although there is still green in the canes. I tried watering them a lot for a week or so, and for one day they seemed to like that, but then they did not any more, and looked worse. Some theories people have offered: the soil is depleted, they need to be thinned, they have been poisoned somehow. Any advice? Or should I just get new ones? And, where would I get new ones?


Bamboo can grow well in containers, but it can also be picky about drainage, fertilizer and container depth.

Here is an American Bamboo Society article entitled Planting and Caring for Bamboo.

Your bamboo may have a pest or an infestation of some kind. To be sure, you may want to bag a sample of the leaves and take them to a Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Plant Clinic. Master Gardeners are trained in the identification of plants and pests and a host of other botanical subjects. To find out where to purchase bamboo locally, try Bamboo Web's sources search tool.

Date 2018-12-29
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Pests, Bamboo

I have a "fence" of golden bamboo that is approximately 8 years old. It has a black coating on the leaves as well as small white flying insects that scatter when I move the branches. Any ideas as what has invaded my yard?


While we cannot diagnose plant problems remotely, what you describe sounds a bit like aphids or whitefly.

The American Bamboo Society also has information on insect pests that affect bamboo. Here is an excerpt, about aphids:
"Aphids love bamboo! There are over 50 species of Asian aphids known to feed on Asian bamboos. A good example is Astegopteryx bambusifoliae, which sucks sap from the leaves of Bambusa, Phyllostachys, and Dendrocalamus throughout Southeast Asia. It over-winters on the bamboo plant, where it sucks sap from the leaf undersides and culms. It is most common during the winter and spring, and disappears during hot summers. It is controlled by ladybeetles. In general, aphids aren't a major problem since there are so many organisms that prey on them, but they can appear in an occasional outbreak that causes wilting of the leaves and shoots, a reduction in vigor, and stunted growth. They can also transmit fungal diseases, such as black mildew." Bamboo mites are also common in our area.

University of California at Davis "Giant Whitefly" page mentions a black mold that forms during whitefly infestations.

To determine which insect is invading your bamboo, you may want to take a bagged sample to a Master Gardener Clinic for identification. For information about Clinic hours see their website (Plant Clinic Schedule).

Date 2018-12-29
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Fargesia, Propagation, Bamboo

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.

Date 2019-04-12
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Noise pollution, Bamboo

Could you recommend some plants that would be effective at screening out noise from a nearby, busy street? Would bamboo be effective? Any other suggestions?


I have some suggestions for planting and otherwise screening your property from the busy street adjacent to your house. I've started with an article from the Washington Post (linked below) that provides good food for thought about this problem. After providing some related information that you may not have considered (#1), I've given you a list of plants, most of which are native (#2). Since you have a relatively small area, you will have to plan carefully.

Here is the link to the article from the Washington Post.

1. My research indicates that a fence or other solid barrier--massive and thick, such as a brick wall or a berm--provides a more effective barrier to sound than a planting screen.

University of British Columbia Botanical Garden Forums has a discussion on this topic, including this citation:
From the book Arboriculture, third edition, Harris et al., page 138, figure 5-8 caption:
"Thirty meters of trees and shrubs reduce truck noise about as effectively as a similiar area of bare cultivated ground. A berm, slope or solid barrier with woody plants would be more effective in absorbing noise (Cook and Van Haverbeke 1971)."

2. You may decide to mask the sound. In addition to music, chimes, and the sound of water in a fountain, you might consider trees that rustle in the wind. You mentioned bamboo, and given your small space, I would recommend a clumping rather than a running bamboo. The frequently asked questions section of the American Bamboo Society website has information about choosing and growing bamboo. Unfortunately, the clumping types prefer sheltered spots and/or shade. You might consider planting some evergreen trees or shrubs on the edge of the property to shade the bamboo, which could be planted closer to the house (and the rustling sound would be closer to the windows). Or you could plant a running type of bamboo (some can take full sun) in a container or using a barrier.

Evergreen trees and shrubs will provide the most effective barrier. Trees such as members of the Thuja genus in combination with a fence may be a place to start, but for more interesting ideas, try visiting the Great Plant Picks website. You can search with the word 'hedge' and come up with a good list of plants that will do well in the Pacific Northwest.

Date 2019-02-23
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Berberis, Trachelospermum, Euonymus, Taxus baccata, Screens, Thuja, Nandina domestica, Hydrangea, Ilex, Hedges, Clematis, Buxus, Bamboo

Could you recommend some plants for a privacy screen that are also narrow? These would be planted in front of a fence in our backyard.


Here is some general information on plants for creating a screen.

Trees for Problem Landscape Sites -- Screening from Virginia Cooperative Extension

Bet on Hedges by local garden writer Valerie Easton.

Landscaping for Privacy: Innovative Ways to Turn Your Outdoor Space into a Peaceful Retreat by PNW author Marty Wingate.

Here is a list of narrow plants for a screen from local garden designer Chris Pfeiffer: "Fastigiate shrubs for naturally narrow hedges." Compiled by Chris Pfeiffer. 2005.

Zones 5-6:

American arborvitae 'Rheingold' (Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold') 5'h x 3'w

Barberry 'Helmond Pillar' (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Helmond Pillar') 6'h x 2'w

Boxwood 'Graham Blandy' (Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy') 8'h x 1-1/2' w

English yew 'Standishii' (Taxus baccata 'Standishii') 4'h x 1-1/2' w

Irish yew (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') 20' h x 4' w

Japanese holly Jersey pinnacle (Ilex crenata 'Jersey Pinnacle') 6' h x 4' w

Japanese holly Mariesii (Ilex crenata 'Mariesii') 3' h x 1-1/2' w

Zones 7-9, in addition to the above:

Dwarf yeddo rhaphiolepis (Rhaphiolepis umbellata Gulf GreenTM) 3-4' h x 2' w

Heavenly bamboo 'Gulf Stream' (Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream') 4' h x 2' w

Japanese euonymus 'Green Spire' (Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire') 15' h x 6' w

You might also consider installing a trellis to increase the height of the fence, and then growing an evergreen vine such as Clematis armandii, evergreen hydrangea (Hydrangea seemanii), or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides).

This link is also helpful (scroll down to "Evergreen Vines" and look for appropriate height and light requirements).

You could grow bamboo, but I would recommend growing it in a container, or a series of containers, as you do not want the roots to spread. I have seen an effective bamboo screen between two houses growing in a long rectangular lined wooden trough (lined with bamboo barrier). Some species of bamboo are more tolerant of partial shade than others. Look for a clumping, rather than a running, bamboo (like Fargesia) to be on the safe side.

Growing Bamboo in Georgia

Running and Clumping Bamboos

Bamboos for hedges or tall privacy screens

Date 2019-04-18
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Bamboo

I recently moved to a property that used to be a bamboo farm. About 1 acre of bamboo remains. It is of the Henon species and about 20-25 feet in height and it appears to have some mite infestation. I want to remove all of the bamboo, and restore the land to native plant habitat. What is the most economical way to remove bamboo and its root clumps? I have hand dug (and burned) a lot of bamboo, but frankly feel overwhelmed by the task at hand because there is still a lot of bamboo on the property. Any suggestions you can offer would be immensely appreciated.


The American Bamboo Society website has information on getting rid of unwanted bamboo, excerpted below. Henon bamboo is a name for a variety of Phyllostachys nigra, which is a running bamboo.


If new shoots of bamboo are coming up all over your yard, it is a running bamboo. To get rid of it, there are four steps:

  1. Cut it off.
  2. Cut it down.
  3. Water the area.
  4. Cut it down again.
  1. Cut it off. All of the culms (stalks) of bamboo in a clump or grove are interconnected underground by rhizomes (underground stems) unless you have cut them by digging a ditch or cutting a line with a spade. A bamboo grove is usually one single plant, not a group of plants. Many people have the impression that every bamboo culm is a separate "tree."

    If the bamboo in your yard has come across from your neighbor's yard, separate your grove from his by cutting the connecting rhizomes, which are usually quite shallow. If you don't, and his part is healthy and vigorous, the rhizomes in your part will still be supported by the photosynthesis in the leaves of his part, and your efforts will be in vain. On the other hand, if you do manage to kill your part with a herbicide you may also kill his part. Lawsuits or at least hard feelings can result.

    Therefore, be sure to isolate the portion you want to keep from the portion you want to kill. Cutting rhizomes with a spade or a saw will do the trick if you do it every year. If the growth is old, you may need to use a mattock or a digging bar the first time. Digging a ditch and putting in a barrier* is a more permanent solution.

  2. Cut it down. Cut the grove to the ground. All of it. If there is any part you want to keep, see (1).
  3. Water and fertilize the area, to cause new growth.
  4. Cut it down again. And again.
  5. New shoots will come up from the rhizomes. Break them off or cut them off with pruning shears. Keep doing this until no more shoots come up. This will exhaust the energy stored in the rhizomes underground. Without green leaves to photosynthesize and produce new energy, they will no longer be able to send up new shoots. The rhizomes will be left behind, but will rot away.

    That's all you need to do. You need a saw, a pair of pruning shears, and patience, and maybe a spade and/or mattock. The widely advertised herbicides don't work well on bamboo, probably because so much of the plant is underground. Since cutting the bamboo down will do the trick, and you have to cut the bamboo down anyway to remove it from your yard, herbicides are a waste of time and money in this case.

The method described above sounds labor--and time--intensive for a large area like yours. However, if you can cut it all down as close to the ground as possible, and then repeatedly mow any new growth, you may be able to kill it. Here is what the USDA recommends:

Eradicating bamboo is accomplished by first removing all top growth, and then destroying the new shoots as they emerge. If the ground is level and the canes can be cut off very close to the ground, mowing is the best way to destroy new shoots. If the ground cannot be mowed, the canes should be cut down and the area plowed to destroy new shoots as they emerge. Several plowings or mowings will be necessary, but the rhizome need not be removed; it will become depleted and die.

This information is from gardening expert Mike McGrath, via a commercial garden supply business, and there is a possibility that his suggestions of sheet mulching the area (also labor-intensive if you have an acre to deal with) or using high-strength vinegar-based products (use extreme caution with these, even though they are 'natural,' as they are still quite hazardous) might help.

Date 2019-08-23
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Neighbor law, Hedges, Garden structures and building materials, Bamboo

Are there any restrictions to planting bamboo near a property line? We are planting it at least 1 1/2 feet from the property line and will be using the appropriate barrier (if planting the runner variety) or clumping bamboo. Basically we want to regain some privacy for our yard and house but not encroach upon the neighboring property.


Although I cannot speak to whether there are legal restrictions about planting bamboo (this would be a question for King County Law Library), my hunch is that as long as you take the necessary precautions to control the spread of the plant by installing a root or rhizome barrier, it should not pose a problem. If you intentionally planted an uncontrolled invasive plant at the property line, it might be possible for someone to contend that it was malicious, as mentioned below (Revised Code of Washington):

RCW 7.40.030

Malicious erection of structure may be enjoined.

An injunction may be granted to restrain the malicious erection, by any owner or lessee of land, of any structure intended to spite, injure or annoy an adjoining proprietor. And where any owner or lessee of land has maliciously erected such a structure with such intent, a mandatory injunction will lie to compel its abatement and removal.

The American Bamboo Society has helpful information on how to control bamboo. Here is an excerpt describing barriers:

To prevent a running bamboo from spreading, a rhizome barrier is essential. A barrier two or three feet deep is effective. It should be slanted outward at the top so that when the rhizomes hit the barrier they will bend upwards. A barrier does not stop a running rhizome; it only deflects it. The barrier should project an inch or two above ground level. Check the barrier once a year, and cut off rhizomes that arch over the top.

Barriers can be concrete, or metal, or plastic. The usual recommendation is high-density polypropylene, 40 mil or heavier, glued or taped at junctions, or clamped with stainless-steel clamps. This material comes in rolls, or as hinged sections, and is available from some landscape suppliers and bamboo nurseries, frequently termed root barrier. More elaborate barriers with corner posts that hold the material at the proper angle are also available.

One other option is to plant your bamboo in pots. Even then, you would need to check the bottoms of the pots periodically for escaping roots. You can also purchase lengths of bamboo fencing or willow fencing, if you do not wish to install a heavier fence. Here is an example of willow fencing, and here is a local company, Bamboo Builders Northwest, which has examples of bamboo fencing.

Date 2019-05-17
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Bamboo

I am considering planting some bamboo in a wet area near the neighbor's yard. Right now, there are spruce planted in that area. I'm worried the bamboo will edge out the spruce, and I'm worried the bamboo might get into the neighbor's yard. The species I'm considering is Phyllostachys atrovaginata, which is supposed to do fine in zone 5 (my zone in the Hudson Valley region of New York), and tolerate wet ground. What do you think?


The American Bamboo Society has a useful general article on growing bamboo species in the Northeastern U.S. One thing the article says is that there are very few temperate (as opposed to tropical) bamboo species which will do well in wet conditions. Here is another article about growing bamboo in Massachusetts, and another article about controlling bamboo, which is essential if you plant a running bamboo--especially if it's planted close to your neighbor's property!

I do have an idea about how you can plant a running bamboo so that it will not invade your neighbor's side of the property line, and so it will have improved drainage: what about planting it in a raised bed or container? I've seen this done, in a high and long raised bed along a property line, planted with running Phyllostachys.

The species you are interested in, Phyllostachys atrovaginata [also called incense bamboo], is described in an article in American Nurseryman, v.208, n. 7, 2008, as reaching 20-35 feet tall. It does tolerate (or require) moist conditions, as you say. It is hardy to zone 5b, and sustains no winter damage at -5 degrees F but culms will die back at -15 and regenerate new shoots in spring. It is a vigorous spreader, and needs "a width of at least 5 feet to provide a sustainably managed screen or specimen in a lawn. A rhizome access trench (1 foot wide by 1 foot deep, backfilled with sand) provides easy access to the rhizomes for routine inspection and extraction. Inspect three times throughout the growing season. Neglect causes unwanted spread, resulting in a garden thug." It also prefers full sun, which might not be available in your garden if it is planted in the shade of the spruce trees.

To my reading, this sounds like a lot of work, when it might be easier to plant a hardy clumping bamboo in a container or raised bed--no worries about wet soil, or about invading the neighbor's garden, and some even tolerate partial shade.

Here is another American Bamboo Society article with suggestions for noninvasive clumping bamboo for the Northeast.
"These plants do not tolerate full sun, but prefer to be understory plants, with overhead canopy above. Cooler, morning sun is acceptable, but hot, midday sun causes the curling of the leaves. Good woody companions are rhododendron, pine, hemlock, leucothoe. Good herbaceous companions are hosta, epimedium, vinca minor, hakonechloa, ceratostigma."

  • Fargesia nitida - Fountain Bamboo, and its many cultivars nitida 'de Belder', 'McClure', 'Nymphenburg', 'Wakehurst': Hardy to minus 20 degrees F - Heights to 18 feet
  • Fargesia murielae - Umbrella Bamboo: Hardy to minus 20 degrees F - Height to 15 feet
  • Fargesia dracocephala: Hardy to minus 10 degrees F - Height to 15 feet
  • Fargesia robusta: Hardy to zero degrees F - Height to 20 feet
  • Fargesia rufa: Hardy to zero degrees F - Height to 10 feet

Date 2019-04-04
Link to this record only (permalink)

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords

Search Again: