PLANTING TRICKS FOR GOLDEN BAMBOO - Knowledgebase Question

Centerport, NY
Question by MACONROSE
June 19, 2005
IS IT SMART TO PLANT A PHYLLOSTACHYS AUREA (APPROX 8 FT HIGH) IN ITS PLASTIC PLANTER IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP IT FROM OVERGROWING? MY TOWN IS OVERRUN WITH BAMBOO POORLY MANTAINED. MY GARDEN SHOP SAID THIS SHOULD SLOW ITS GROWTH AND UNDERGROUND EXPANSION BUT I'M AFRAID IT WILL STUNT ITS ROOTS AND KILL IT. CAN THIS HAPPEN AND IS THIS POSSIBLE? I'M HOPING THIS PLANT WILL GROW UP TO 20 -30 FT.


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Answer from NGA
June 19, 2005

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There are several considerations in planting a large running bamboo. One is that the root system is large, strong and necessary to support a proportionately large stand. This is, after all, a naturally large plant. Bamboos tend to start out slowly, each year the new growth is larger than the year before. It can take eight years or so for it to reach its larger size range. In a cooler climate it will not get as large as it would in a warmer area where is more amenable to growing to its full potential size.

Phyllostachys aurea or golden bamboo is only hardy to zone 7. It grows to about ten feet tall. Your zip code places you in zone 6B or the warmer part of zone 6. Depending on you microclimate it could be slightly warmer or slightly colder. So I am not sure this is the bamboo to plant for the effect you have in mind. If this is what you already have, I would suggest you mulch it very heavily in late fall each year.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata or yellow groove bamboo is substantially more winter hardy (into zone 5) and also a larger plant -- potentially to 25 feet. If you plant it and want to contain the roots, you will need to provide a root barrier such as concrete or rust proof metal going down about three feet. It should angle outward slightly at the top so that any underground runners will be directed to the surface where you can cut them off. In my experience a plastic nursery pot would not hold it, the roots will quickly run through the drain holes and break through the pot within a few years.

Good luck with your bamboo.

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