Choosing Bamboo

    • Mottled leaves are often a sign of spider mites. Check for them with a hand lens or bring a leaf in to your nursery, in a plastic bag, for identification and treatment options.
    • Japanese maples may be pruned now in order to shape them.
    • Sow lettuce seeds now for a fall crop. Set out broccoli and cabbage plants too.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.
    • First-year fruit trees need to be well-watered through the dry weather. If they are neglected the first year, they may never be strong, productive trees.

Choosing Bamboo for your Landscape

Bamboos are evergreen members of the grass family and they range from petite miniatures to massive giants with heights ranging from 2 to 100 feet tall. The beautiful canes can be a slender 1/8-inch or as large as 12 inches across. There are over 100 species of bamboo, found from the tropics to the mountaintops. While most bamboos are tropical or subtropical, there are hardy bamboos that can survive temperatures of –10° to –20°F.

When used properly, few plants are more effective in creating a subtropical mood in the landscape. All species of bamboo are superb soil stabilizers, and the medium or large-sized species can make a durable, fast-growing hedge in places where few other plants would thrive.

Bamboo “canes,” known as culms, grow from a branching underground root structure called a rhizome. The branching habit of the rhizome determines the growth habit of the bamboo.

There are two main types of bamboo: running and clumping. Running types send out spreading rhizomes and can colonize large areas. Clumping types stay in tight clumps that slowly increase in size. Running bamboos are hardy to frost while clumping types are not as hardy.

As they grow, bamboos store food and energy in their roots and rhizomes. When growth begins in the spring, the canes shoot out of the ground and reach their maximum height within a month. Young bamboos are usually slow to establish, but established plants grow very quickly.

Bamboos like full sun or partial shade. They tolerate a wide range of soil conditions as long as moisture is present. They will grow faster and taller with frequent watering and fertilizing. To control their growth, water and feed less.

Golden bamboo, black bamboo and giant timber bamboo are all running types. Golden bamboo makes a good screen or hedge and does well in containers. The canes of black bamboo turn black their second year and are very attractive against the green leaves. Give them some afternoon shade. Timber bamboo makes huge canes 6 inches in diameter. They make beautiful groves if the lowest branches are trimmed off.

Golden Goddess bamboo is a clumping type with graceful, arching growth. It makes a good container or screening plant. Dwarf white pinstripe bamboo makes a fine groundcover, growing 1-3 feet tall. Is is a running bamboo that is a fast spreader. The light colored leaves are attractive in light shade.

Giant Leaf bamboo has the largest leaves of any bamboo, up to 24 inches long by 4 inches wide. It adapts easily to growing in pots and does best in a shady location out of the wind.

Choose bamboo carefully and you will find that it can be a beautiful addition to any garden.

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