With a history of being grown for many centuries, bamboos are lofty, magnificent, beautiful, and fast-growing plants that can work well with every garden, regardless of the garden’s design or orientation. Apart from being great for feature plants within the design, bamboos are also best used as live hedges or privacy screens.
Bamboos are characteristically grouped into two types: running bamboos and clumping bamboos. Both types are easy to grow, but the clumping bamboos are easier to maintain because they are less likely to become invasive.
Though they can be invasive, running bamboos are elegant when properly contained within the garden or landscape. Furthermore, if you choose the right type of bamboo for your available space, they will undoubtedly exceed expectations and impress you more!
What distinguishes bamboos?
Bamboo varieties are available in various sizes, shapes, colors, and heights, all of which are responsible for giving them the visual interests essential for creating striking designs and visual elements within the landscape.
They are effortless to grow, fast-growing, and do not require additional fertilizers to boost their growth. They are also versatile, hardy, drought-tolerant, evergreen, and self-renewing, which is the reason why they grow and adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions.
12 Types of Bamboo for Your Garden
Do you have any doubts about bamboos? Are you afraid you may choose a bamboo type that may not be the best for your space? Well, this article is here to clear the doubts by giving an elaborate list of bamboos and how best you can grow them.
1. Umbrella Bamboo (Fargesia murielae)
Known for their outstanding greenish-yellow canes, umbrella bamboos are elegant and completely non-invasive. They are highly versatile and adaptable to a range of climatic conditions. They are also famed for having long, slender leaves with a bright green hue at the top and a greyish tone at the bottom.
Umbrella bamboos are versatile and fast-growing, often reaching up to 15 feet high and growing in clumps of widths averaging 4 – 5 feet. Since direct sunlight may affect the quality of the leaves, umbrella bamboos prefer partial shade for optimal growth.
Once grown, they are highly adaptable, easy to maintain, and exceptionally hardy. The best part of planting them is that they are non-invasive. However, their stalks might assume an arc as they grow due to the weight of the foliage, but they are strong enough and do not require extra staking.
2. Hedge Bamboo (Phyllostachys glauca)
Hedge bamboos are exceptionally hardy and known to maintain their beautiful green hue no matter the climate or the season. They have bluish-green culms that develop into lovely, bright canes. When they are younger, a blue tinge is dominant in the stalks, but the canes assume a yellowish-green tint as they age.
When fully grown, hedge bamboos have upright canes that can grow to a width of about 2 inches. They are not specifically invasive, but if neglected, they can steadily spread at the base to form a small bamboo orchard that can grow to widths of about 20 feet.
However, hedge bamboos are only specific to warm climates. This is because the high temperature optimally promotes their rapid growth. In case of a temperature drop or when they are grown in cool climatic conditions, the growth of hedge bamboos can be stunted or halted altogether. Gardeners can use this fact to keep hedge bamboo contained.
3. Guadua Bamboo (Guadua bambusa)
Native to the Amazon basin and Uruguay, Guadua bamboos are a type of thorny bamboo belonging to the Neotropical genus. Other species of the Guadua genus can also be found in parts of Northern Mexico and Trinidad. Although they can grow at higher altitudes, they are best for and optimally grow in low-lying regions with altitudes less than 5000 feet.
Guadua bamboos are not always the first choice for many gardeners since they can be a bit invasive and requires plenty of space to grow. They also need lots of patience because their initial seedlings often take time and mature only after 5 years.
You may also wait a further 4 years for them to achieve their full height. If you are patient enough and have the space needed, you can go for the Guadua bamboos.
This bamboo has a wide range of uses. Like other forest bamboos, it is the main diet staple for Amazonian and Atlantic rats. You can also use it for mechanical and construction purposes.
The Guadua bamboo has multiple water-related protection properties that make it perform exceptionally well as a building material. In the Americas, it is one of the main raw materials used to construct houses along river banks and coastlines.
However, the natural populations of the Guadua bamboos have drastically dropped over the years, primarily due to over-exploitation. Although it is useful and highly sought after as raw material, it is advisable to use it more sustainably.
4. Buddha Bamboo (Bambusa ventricosa)
Native to China, the name of the Buddha bamboo was coined with reference to Buddha’s bulging belly, just similar to this bamboo’s rings. Unlike other common bamboos, this feature gives them a unique status, making them useful as ornamental plants, where they are often grown in small containers.
Buddha bamboos are tropical plants that will thrive in temperate regions. However, keeping the plant indoors is highly recommended if you live in cooler regions.
For optimal growth, the Buddha bamboo needs moist and fertile soil and it can grow to a height of up to 55 feet. However, depending on how you feed it, the bamboo’s bulging stems might take an exaggerated position with time. This should signal you to scale back the fertilizer and water supply.
Buddha bamboos are non-invasive and serve perfectly as privacy screens.
5. Japanese Arrow Bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica)
Although native to Korea and some Japanese regions like Kyushu and Honshu, the Japanese arrow bamboo thrives best on Japanese soil. The name was probably coined by Japanese samurai who used the stiff bamboo canes for arrows.
Characterized by leaves similar to palm trees, the beautiful yellowish-brown leaves can grow to different sizes, often ranging from 5 – 13 inches. Japanese arrow bamboos also thrive in either full or partial shade and can withstand extremely cold temperatures, primarily because it is a cold species. Unlike other bamboos, they can withstand salty air and thrive in containers.
6. Black Bamboos (Phyllostachys nigra)
Black bamboos are undoubtedly a beautiful addition to any garden. As soon as they mature, their upright canes assume a marbled-brownish color that gradually fades and transforms the whole cane to black. When fully developed, the canes grow to an average width of 2 inches and are characterized by perfectly smooth and shiny surfaces.
Individual canes go through phases of color development that add interest and visual appeal to the multicolored canes.
7. Chilean Bamboo (Chusquea culeou)
As the name suggests, this evergreen bamboo is native to Chile and other parts of South America. They are distinguished by their lanceolate leaves with spines along the edges. They also have light brownish flowers and are known to bloom for up to 60 years.
Unlike other bamboo species, Chilean bamboos can withstand frost, making them popular and widely grown in temperate regions, including parts of Valdivia, Argentina, and Chile. They are known to control many dynamics in the wild, such as slowing the growth rate of multiple trees that could otherwise experience rapid and unnecessary fast growth only to perish when frost sets in.
8. Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo (Pleioblustus viridistriatus)
Native to parts of East Asia, specifically China and Japan, the Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo naturally thrives also in parts of Europe, Korea, and New Zealand. They are distinguished by their striped green leaves that showcase their stunning beauty, especially during summer and spring.
They can also withstand extreme temperatures and are deciduous. Typically, they are mowed to the ground every summer and fall to maintain the visual charm.
Dwarf green stripe bamboos are incredibly hardy and thrive in a wide range of environmental conditions. Therefore, if you plan to import them to your garden, climatic considerations shouldn’t be a problem.
9. Green-Glaucous Bamboo (Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens)
The green-glaucous bamboo is known to grow rapidly and spreads to form a grove. They are a great addition to your garden with canes that emerge with a deep emerald green color that gradually transforms to a lime green hue and finally turns to a yellow-green color when fully mature.
Their canes are striped with white along the nodes and have medium-sized foliage that is wide and elongated. Thanks to this quality, the green-glaucous bamboos are best used for solid privacy screens or live fences.
10. Painted Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris)
Painted bamboos are excellent options for ornamental purposes. They are known for their stripes along the culms and unique markings and patterns on the golden canes. Adding to their visual appeal, painted bamboos have stunning and diverse patterns from node to node.
This is a feature unique to the painted bamboo. They are also non-invasive, making them an excellent option for your garden. Instead, they have an excellent root system that helps hold and anchor the soil, helping to avoid erosion.
Upon maturity, their canes often stabilize at heights averaging between 40-60 feet. These canes often arc, depending on the weight of the foliage above. On the other hand, their leaves are narrow and elongated, often reaching 7 inches in length.
11. Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis)
Moso bamboos are another excellent option for your garden. They are among the hardiest and tallest bamboo varieties, often growing to heights of up to 60 feet, sometimes over. They also have incredibly thick canes that can grow to widths of up to 8 inches.
Interestingly, the canes start out with a soft green hue when young and gradually turn into a yellowish-green tinge as they mature.
However, unlike other bamboos that characteristically have a hard and smooth surface, the Moso bamboo canes have a soft and velvety lining. They thrive in warm and moist climates, and are native to Japan, China, and other regions of East Asia.
12. Timber Bamboo
As the name suggests, this Chinese native bamboo is primarily grown and harvested for timber. Timber bamboos are characteristically distinguished by their smooth and glossy canes.
When young, timber bamboos have an emerald green hue that gradually fades into a yellowish-green tinge as they mature. For optimal growth, they require consistently moist soil and full exposure to sunlight. Therefore, if you live in cooler regions, this might not be the best bamboo for your garden.
Before you pick bamboo for your garden, it is good to conduct a background check on the type to ascertain if it is the best for your garden space. Now that you have a list to cross-check against, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plant one of these versatile plants.
Once you have the bamboo that best fits your garden, it won’t be a problem nurturing and taking care of it. After all, most of the bamboos need minimal to zero human intervention. Once planted, nature takes its course till they mature. Just be sure not to neglect the invasive types.