Don’t Be Bamboozled By Bamboo
Bamboo is a misunderstood plant that comes in two varieties.
Firstly, the bad bamboo – running bamboo. This bamboo is one that gives all bamboos a bad name. Once in the ground this will spread all over the garden, as well as the neighbour’s garden and what feels like a mile down the road. It’s difficult to get a hold of running bamboo (thank goodness), but always ensure that what you are buying is in fact a clumping bamboo.
Clumping bamboo is a great plant with a lot of versatility that can see it turned towards use as a screening plant, a stand-alone feature specimen or even an effective windbreak. As its name suggests, clumping bamboo will clump to a certain size and, depending on what variety you choose, it will stay to that height and spread. Bamboo is also an extremely useful option when you need an upright plant for screening as it doesn’t arch out like a tree would and take up valuable space in the garden.
Some professionals like Bambusa textilis Gracilis ‘Slender Weaver’ as it gets to 6m tall and each clump is no wider than 1.5m in diameter with each shoot or culm getting to 25mm wide. This variety can survive in temperatures down to -9 degrees Celsius so it’s for the cool climates of Australia but it’s just as suitable for the more tropical areas too.
If you have a bit of room and need something really big, as the name ‘Giant Timber’ bamboo suggests the Dendrocalamopsis oldhamii is the one for you as it gets to 15m in height and does so quickly. Adding further credence to its name, it also grows to feature thick stems that turn yellow in full sun. On the other hand, if you have a shady spot and need a delicate plant as a feature, then professionals suggest going for a blue bamboo. This plant only gets to 3 or 4m in height and has a fine stem and leaf that, as the name suggests, has a blue-ish tinge to the new growth. Some like this bamboo as it’s very light in its appearance; it doesn’t take up too much room and is also very well suited to life in a pot.
When looking after bamboo it is important to understand that it is a member of the grass family so it takes quite a lot of water and benefits from a nitrogen rich fertilizer in early spring and again in early summer. To thin bamboo out you cut the old stems low to the ground and add more light to the clump to promote new, fresh growth.
Source: Charlie Albone – co-host of Selling Houses Australia on the Lifestyle channel and runs his own business, Inspired Exteriors