There are bamboos to fit just about every job description in the garden and landscape - whether it's working as a border plant, screen, hedge, groundcover, woodlander, solitary specimen or container plant. In fact, there is usually a choice of bamboo qualified for each job.
Screens & Hedges
A frequent characteristic of the modern garden is that there's almost always something that needs to be hidden away such as an unsightly shed or some neighbouring eyesore. These common problems provide a great opportnity to make use of bamboo as a living screen. Fargesia bamboos are invaluable for screens as they are clumping and non-invasive in their habit - our favourites include Fargesia Robusta, Fargesia Scabrida, Fargesia Nitida and Fargesia Dracocephala. For taller screens over 4m in height we recommend opting for Phyllostachys Bissettii, Phyllostachys Aureosulcata 'aureocaulis' or Phyllostachys Aureosulcata 'spectabilis' - these varieties do have a running rhizome therefore barrier is worth considering.
When planting a bamboo screen or hedge using clumping bamboos, such as Fargesia varieties, it is advisable to create a minimum bed width of 80-100cm (3 feet) to allow for expansion of the clumps. When using the spreading varieties such as Phyllostachys is is advisable to create a bed width of at least 1-1.2m (3-4 feet). The distance required between plants is generally recommended at 1m (3 feet) for clumping varieties such as Fargesia and 1-2m (3-6 feet) for spreading varieties such as Phyllostachys bamboos.
Although these are some we have picked out as good screens or hedges, most bamboo plants will create an effective screen or hedge - so don't rule out your favourite if we haven't listed it here. Also see our Bamboo Hedging Guide for more information :
Keeping Bamboo in Containers and Pots
Many bamboo plants will grow quite happily in containers or pots and can make very attractive additions to patios or terraces, especially where a little bit of shelter or privacy is required. It is however important to remember when keeping bamboos in pots or containers, it is more labour intensive than growing in the ground as they need more watering and eventual repotting when they outgrow their pot. Bamboo will not reach its full height potential when kept in a pot, this is important to remember when you are choosing a screening bamboo and planning planting into containers. Although we specialise in bamboo plants which are proven to be hardy when planted in the ground, when the same plant is kept in a pot, the roots and rhizomes are more exposed to winter frosts. In colder regions of the UK (like here in NE Scotland) it might be worth wrapping your pot in fleece or bubble wrap or even taking the pot to a sheltered location or undercover (but not indoors to a heated building).
The best bamboos for growing successfully in pots are the clump forming (Fargesia) varieties or only the moderately spreading ones such as Phyllostachys Aurea or Aureosulcata. It is advisable to avoid the very vigorous growing ones as they will quickly fill the pot with circling rhizomes and will split the strongest of pots.
The following bamboos are particularly good choices for keeping in pots:
Thamnocalamus Crassinodus 'Kew Beauty'
Phyllostachys Nigra 'Punctata'
Phyllostachys Aureosulcata 'Aureocaulis'
Phyllostachys Aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'
We must however highlight the following potential problems with keeping you bamboo plants in a pot or container. The main problem occurs with over or under watering. A bamboo in a container must be constantly monitored to ensure it has not become too dry and likewise it must not be allowed to become waterlogged. The sign of poor watering is usually browning or loss of leaves. If this happens, try to correct the watering regime and the plant should show signs of recovery - it is quite hard to kill the roots. It is also advisable to feed your containerised bamboos regularly through the growing season - an under nurished bamboo will have yellowing leaves or be pale green.
Groundcover and stabilising steep banks
Many of the dwarf and small bamboos (those that grow up to about 2 metres) are superb for groundcover, and soon make a dense, weed-suppressing covering of evergreen leaves. We like to use Pleioblastus varieties for a shorter, carpeting effect under shrubs and in woodland, or even to replace a lawn - it can be clipped once a year to create a lawn / carpet. Indocalamus tessellatus and Sasa types are ideal where taller cover is required. Bamboos are also ideal for stabilising soil on steep slopes and river banks. After just a couple of years the network of rhizomes is so well-knitted that the soil is held in place during the most torrential rain (we recommend keeping these watered until established to gain a strong root network).
Extremely Cold Hardy Bamboo
Here at Scottish Bamboo we only sell hardy varieties, however these are the ones we consider most cold hardy':
Bamboos ideals for very wet or damp soils
For more information see our guide using bamboo in your garden design
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