The Q&A Archives: Should I Plant Black Bamboo?

Question: I have a 12" space between the foundation of a house and a 4' wide concrete walk. The house is modern with a two-story to two and half-story elevation with one small window. Taking the walk out to create a larger planting bed is not an option. I saw your Black Bamboo for sale in a nursery ($110 for a 3 gallon pot) and is it too dangerously invasive to plant in this space? Should I worry about it hurting the foundation/the walk and sending runners out? If so, can I plant it in it's container or a slightly larger one to fit the space? I really liked it and the modern look would fit the landscape. HELP! Susan Fraser

Answer: Unfortunately, this is actually a very large plant, much larger than it appears in the pot where it is usually a bit dwarfed by virtue of the constrained roots and transplanting process. In addition to being large, it also spreads out by running underground (moderately in bamboo terms, but it does run) so this would not, in my opinion, be a good choice for that narrow a location. In any case planting it in the container would not contain it and the space is really too narrow for it in a year or so.

Instead, you might consider an espalier trained against the wall or perhaps an attractive trellis with a vine, both of these options would be narrow enough to fit in a twelve inch space. They would however require training and would take time to grow up and reach their full potential.

Another alternative, since it is possible that the space you describe could be very dry and thus a difficult environment for a plant to survive in, would be a mural or mosaic or sculptural piece or other artwork that could be custom made to fit the space and complement the exterior of your home. This would have the added benefit of being both constant presence and customized to the space.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

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