The Q&A Archives: Bamboo for Japanese GArden

Question: I want to camouflage 75 feet of chain link fencing in my back yard. I'm creating an outdoor japanese garden/living space. Because I want the yard to be low maintenance, is there a type of bamboo tree that does not shed leaves, grows tall, bushy and looks dark in color? Can you suggest other plants/trees for a japanese garden?


Answer: All bamboos shed in spring so regardless of the type you plant, there will be litter. The only alternative would be Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo. It's not really a bamboo but the stems appear like bamboo culms and the foliage is similar to bamboo. It sheds less and grows dense. It also is less invasive so root pruning won't be necessary to keep it inbounds. If you still want bamboo, here are some bamboos to consider: Phyllostachys decora, Common Name: "Beautiful Bamboo"; Also known as: Phyllostachys mannii; Expected Height: 30 feet; Diameter: 2.5 inches; Hardiness: -10? F; This bamboo has very straight upright culms with masses of drooping foliage and shiny dark green leaves. The new shoots have distinct and colorful culm sheaths. Native to the Yangtze valley of China where it is referred to by the locals as "Beautiful Bamboo". It is a fine bamboo for a tall dense screen. Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr'; Common Name: Alphonse Karr; Maximum Height: 30 feet; Container Height: 12 to 20 feet; Diameter: 1.5 inches; Hardiness: 15? F; The culms on this bamboo are golden with random green stripes of variable width. The golden color of the culms takes on a magenta cast when exposed to bright sunlight, as visible on the large culm in this picture. This bamboo makes a wonderful container plant. It, like other forms of Bambusa multiplex, are among the best bamboos for a well lit area indoors. Bambusas generally grow a very tight cluster of canes, and 'Alphonse Karr' is no exception, making it an excellent choice for a privacy screen where a clumping bamboo is desired. Japanese maples, azaleas and pines are always nice in a Japanese themed garden. Best wishes with your garden!

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