Hardy Bamboo Varieties: Growing Cold Hardy Bamboo Plants
Growing cold hardy bamboo plants are not easy task. There are many varieties of these plants available in the market. Some of them have been grown for centuries and they require very special conditions to grow well.
They need a temperature range between -10°C and +15°C (-14°F and +28°F). These plants do not tolerate extreme temperatures.
The climate of Japan is different from other countries around the world. The average daily high temperature ranges from 10°C (50°F) at night time to -1°C (32°F) during daytime, which makes it possible to grow these kinds of plants in such environment. The soil type is also different here compared with other places.
The soil type here is called “Kanazawa” and it’s a clayey type.
There are several types of bamboo species. All of them have their own characteristics and advantages. A few of them are:
Cold Hardy Bamboo Varieties: Growing Cold Hardy Bamboo Plants
Bamboo is one of the most common plant used in nature. There are six types of bamboo, and some of them have grown naturally in our surrounding areas. The plant I am talking about is kyushu bamboo which grows extensively in our surrounding areas.
This type of bamboo differs from other types because it acts as an evergreen plant. This kind of bamboo is also known as “mountain bamboo.”
Kyushu bamboo isn’t only easy to grow, it’s also cheap and affordable. As the name suggests, it is found in the kyushu region of japan. The best part about this plant is that you can almost plant it anywhere.
It grows well on rocky and sandy types of land. This type doesn’t grow well on swampy lands though.
This type of bamboo can be planted in zones 2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8. You can grow it outside these areas but you will have to protect it from the harsh weather conditions. This type doesn’t grow well during winter so make sure you prepare a good protection plan for the winter season.
Another benefit of planting this plant is that it can grow old. It can live up to 100 years and it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. In the first five years, you will have to protect it from diseases and insects, but after that it grows stronger and don’t get affected by these things.
Kyushu bamboo is one of the best plants you can grow since it gives a natural vibe and acts as an evergreen plant. It is also one of the cheapest plants you can find on the market. It is very affordable and requires low maintenance cost.
Since it grows very slowly, you don’t have to worry about cutting it frequently either.
Zones, Soil, Sunlight and Characteristics of Green Bamboo
There are six types of green bamboo available in the market these days. All of them are evergreen plants and require the same climate to grow well. The growth rate of these plants is also similar.
All of these can be grown in zones 3, 4, 5 and 7. Some of them can also be grown in zone 2 with extra protection from harsh weather conditions. Let’s learn more about each type of bamboo:
Green Moso Bamboo or China Bamboo: This type of bamboo is identified by its long and slender leaves. These leaves can grow up to a length of around 4 feet and have a thickness of around 0.2 inches.
It also has a yellow colored inflorescence that grows up to a height of around 15 feet. The maturity period of this bamboo is around 15 to 20 years. This type of bamboo spreads its roots very aggressively and can be identified by the clumps of tall stems.
Green Fargesia Bamboo: It looks very similar to the bamboo we find in our surroundings. The leaves of this plant are around 3 feet in length and have a thickness of around 0.2 inches.
The long and green culms (stems) can grow up to a height of around 15 feet. It also has a yellowish color inflorescence that grows up to a length of around 10 feet. This type of bamboo matures within 15 to 20 years as well.
Other types of green bamboo include:
This type of bamboo is found in the state of Arizona. It is a popular choice for people who want to grow this plant in their backyard. The maturity period of this type is around 15 years.
This plant has yellowish green leaves and culms that can grow up to a length of 5 feet. This plant spreads its roots very slowly and prefers sandy soil to grow well.
This type of bamboo is popular among people who want to add an exotic look to their house’s exterior. It is grown in New Zealand and has a maturity period of around 15 years. It has dark green leaves and grows up to 4 feet tall.
This plant spreads its roots very slowly and requires sandy soil to grow well. It has yellowish green flowers and its culms are around 2 feet long.
BEWARE: THERE ARE LOTS OF BAMBOOS IN THE MARKET AND NONE OF THEM ARE COMPLETELY IDENTICAL. FEW OF THEM HAVE DIFFERENT CHARACTERISTICS AND THAT IS WHY YOU NEED TO BE A NATURALISTIC BOTANIST TO BUY THE RIGHT PLANT. IF YOU WANT, YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT A SPECIALISED GARDENER WHO CAN HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE.
How to Care and Water Green Bamboo Plants
Watering bamboo plants is not as easy as watering other kinds of plants. These plants require special care and should only be watered at specific times. Let’s learn how to give them the best water supply:
The container in which you grow your plant plays a major role in watering it properly. If you grow your plant in a container, make sure it has good drainage holes so excess water can flow out of the pot. You can use different kinds of containers to grow your bamboo.
You can buy readymade wooden or plastic planters from the market or you can also create your own container by putting stones together to make one.
The second most important thing is the soil mix which you use to grow your plant in the container. Your bamboo should be grown in a well-draining soil mix. You can buy one from the market or make your own.
Either way, the soil mix should have the following properties:
Have good drainage so that excess water can quickly flow out of the pot
Be loose and fluffy so that oxygen can reach every part of the root system
Don’t use garden soil to grow your bamboo because it tends to be too dense for the roots to take in oxygen. This will eventually kill your plant.
Make sure you clean your container before you fill it up with soil mix. Also, clean your spade before using it to put soil in the pot.
You don’t want to drown your plant with water. Overwatering will cause the roots to rot and eventually kill your bamboo. Water your bamboo deeply and less frequently to avoid this from happening.
If you grow your bamboo in a container, then water it thoroughly once every 15 days during summer. During winter, water it every 30 days.
If you grow your bamboo in the ground, water it once every 15 days during summer and 30 days during winter.
Let the soil get dry before watering it again. The leaves of your plant will turn yellow if it isn’t getting enough water. This happens because the old leaves stop producing chlorophyll when they don’t have enough water.
However, this will not kill the plant. The yellow leaves will fall off the plant on their own and fresh green leaves will grow again.
During the winter season, your bamboo plant requires less water. However, you should not withhold water from for more than a week because the roots may start to die. The leaves of your plant may turn yellow if you don’t water it enough during this period, but this will not kill the plant.
The yellow leaves will fall off on their own and the plant will grow new green ones.
If you ever notice yellow spots on the leaves of your plant, it’s time to water it again. This happens because the soil was dry and the leaf couldn’t get enough water. It’s best to take preventative measures rather than cure.
How to Care and Water Bamboo Saplings
Bamboo plants grow from bamboo saplings which can be bought from nurseries or garden shops. The older the bamboo sapling is, the more mature and larger it will become.
Before you start growing your plant, it is important that you know how to care for the soil and plan the space for your new plant. It will also be helpful if you know how to take care of young bamboo plants until they become mature enough to grow in the ground.
Bamboo grows very fast and it will quickly outgrow its container or pot within one year. If you want to grow your bamboo in the ground, you will need to dig a hole for it about 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. This is because bamboos can grow up to 100 feet tall.
If you want to keep your bamboo small, plant it in a large container such as a tub. Also, prepare the soil before you plant it. The soil should be loose, soft and most importantly, it should be porous.
Do not use soil from your backyard as it will be packed together and will not have the right air flow that the bamboo needs.
You can also plant the sapling in a large bucket that has several holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. It is important that you keep the soil lightly moist but not soaked.
How to Water Bamboo
Before you plant your bamboo, it is important that you know how to water them properly.
Newly planted bamboos need a lot of water to help them get established in their new home. Water them deeply to help the roots grow strong and plentiful. Water newly planted bamboos every day for the first month.
After that period, water it once every 2 or 3 days. The bamboo will tell you when it needs water by wilting.
After the first few months, you only need to water your bamboo about once a week. The soil should always be damp, but never soaking wet. Bamboo can survive in drought conditions, but this will slow down its growth rate and will eventually kill it.
If you are having a long dry spell, it is best to water your bamboo every day. Bamboo can’t survive without water for more than a week.
Some bamboos such as Fargesia robusta and Fargesia denstorfii need even more water than others. These species will not survive long without regular water.
Bamboo stems have nodes where leaves sprout out of and it is important to water these as well. If you are planting on a large scale, buy a garden hose with a fine rose to help distribute the water and save yourself some time and effort.
It is also important to note that some types of bamboo need more water than others. For example, Phyllostachys pubescens and other running bamboos need less water than other types such as the clumping types like Fargesia, Yushania, and Thamnocalamus.
How to Water Bamboo in Winter
If you live in an area that has cold winters, it is important to learn how to water bamboo in the winter as well. Bamboos are evergreens so they need water all year round. If the ground is frozen, you can either water the plant thoroughly enough that it absorbs all the moisture or you can bring the container into your home and keep it next to a window so it can receive reflected sunlight.
If this is not possible, you can also use a tarp or piece of wood to shelter the plant from wind and keep the plants dry.
There are other factors that affect how much water your bamboo needs. These include:
Soil – Bamboo grows best in loose, fertile soil. If your soil is too compact or clay-like, it will not be able to absorb enough water and the bamboo will not be able to survive.
The climate – In dry areas, bamboos need more water than those in swampy ones.
Time of year – In summer, your bamboo will need water more frequently than it does in winter.
Other factors – If the temperature is hotter or colder than normal, your bamboo will need more water. Also, if it is very windy, it will not be able to retain water and could end up drying out.
When it comes to watering bamboos, less is definitely more. You do not want to over water your bamboo as this can cause the roots to rot and will eventually kill the plant. If you over water your bamboo, the roots will become dormant.
How to Tell If Your Bamboo Needs Water
There are several ways you can tell if your bamboo needs water. For one thing, the leaves start to droop. Another thing is if you feel the topsoil and it feels dry, then your plant definitely needs water.
Another way to tell if your plant needs water is by inspecting the roots. If the top 2 or 3 inches (5-7.5cm) of soil are dry, then this means that the roots have dried out and need water.
How to Water Your Bamboo
It is best to water your bamboo early in the morning so the water has plenty of time to be absorbed into the ground. Water it until the water starts to come out of the bottom of the container and soak the soil. If this doesn’t happen, then you need to add organic material or gravel at the bottom of the pot to ensure excess water can drain through.
The Importance of Fertilizing Your Bamboo
It is important to remember that bamboos are evergreens so they keep their leaves all year round. This means that they require more fertilizer than deciduous plants. However, you don’t want to over-fertilize your bamboo as this can burn and even kill the plant.
Bamboo should be fertilized during spring and summer. A good fertilizer should contain lots of nitrogen and little to no phosphate or potash. (However, if you add too much nitrogen then this can burn your plants.
A good tip is to look for fertilizer with the chemical name of “ammonia”.)
The best way to fertilize your bamboo is by creating a “sacrifice” area in your ground to grow nitrogen-fixing bacteria. You can then collect this bacteria and spread it around your bamboo plants. This bacteria will feed on the nitrogen in the air and leave behind phosphorus and potassium, which are perfect for growing bamboos.
How to Water and Fertilize Your Bamboo
To water and fertilize your bamboo, you first need to find a place where there is nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This can be found in any area of earth that has recently had animal dung dropped on it. These areas can be depleted of nitrogen but will start to grow again after a few years.
To begin, dig a hole that is about 6 inches (15cm) deep and about a foot (30cm) in diameter. Put some of the dung into the bottom of the hole, then add some fresh, urine-soaked dung. Keep doing this until you have added at least 1/3 of a wheelbarrow full or dung.
After this, cover the hole with earth and then allow it to sit and ferment. It should be ready in about a month.
When you want to feed your bamboo, dig out some of the soil surrounding the roots of your bamboo plant and replace it with some of the bacteria that you have created. Don’t fertilize the plant in excess. You only need to add about a handful of the bacteria to each plant.
How to Transplant Your Bamboo
When your bamboo reaches around 6 feet (1.8 meters) in height, it is time to transplant it. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the root system of your plant.
Try to disturb the roots as little as possible when you are transplanting your plant. After this, backfill the hole with soil and water the plant well.
How to Control Its Spread
It is not uncommon for bamboos to spread along the ground and even into the air if there is nothing blocking its path. These plants spread very quickly, and if left unchecked, they can cover acres of land. Some species can even choke out other native plants by spreading underground.
The best way to stop a bamboo from spreading is to cut off the flow of nutrients by severing the roots. You can do this by digging around the base of the plant and slicing through the underground roots with a spade or even your hands. It will soon start to droop and wilt.
Keep cutting back the green parts and it will eventually die.
Bamboo can also spread through its rhizomes. These are horizontal stems that grow just below the surface of the ground. These can be seen by looking for circular patches of coarse grass.
They can also be identified by their size, as they spread out and can be several feet in diameter.
To control a bamboo that is spreading through its rhizomes, you will need to draw a perimeter line around the area of growth. Dig long trenches along this perimeter and fill them with kerosene, diesel, or some other combustible liquid. You can also use a flammable gas such as propane.
Ignite the fuel and keep away from the area until it is burnt down to a certain diameter.
This process is very effective, but you must be careful when using flames or open flames around dried bamboo leaves and shoots, as they can sometimes act as an accelerant, making the fire spread more quickly. This can cause larger fires that are harder to control.
Planting and Maintaining a Bamboo Hedge
If you want to keep your bamboo inside a boundary, then you can plant it in a trench or a hole. Once again, make sure that the tip of the shoot is facing towards the top of the boundary. When the roots start to grow, they will slope downwards and form a barrier.
After you have planted your bamboo, backfill the hole with soil and water it well. If you have more than one row, then leave around a foot (30.4 cm) between each clump to allow for growth.
Water it well and keep on top of the watering routine.
If you want to speed up the growth process of your bamboo, then you can fertilize it once a month using a general-purpose fertilizer, but be careful not to overfeed it. Too much fertilizer can damage or even kill your plants.
Pruning and Trimming Your Bamboo Hedge
You can control the height of your bamboo hedge by trimming it back occasionally. If you want to keep it shorter, then cut the shoots back to whatever height you desire. If you want it taller, then clip the tips off the shoots.
New growth will soon appear from lower down on the cane.
You should prune your bamboo hedge once a year in late winter, just after the new shoots have appeared. This will give you clean cuts and nice straight shoots. If you wait until late summer, the shoots will be thicker and harder to cut.
If you want a good shape or canopy, then pruning is a must. You can do this in one of two ways: Lifting and shaping or thinning out.
Lifting and shaping is done by carefully digging up the entire plant, or part of it. This can be rather labor intensive and requires a lot of time and energy, but it leads to the best results. It also encourages new growth and thicker shoots as described above.
Thinning out involves careful removal of outer layers of shoots, leaving the inner ones to grow larger and stronger. This leads to a good shape and strong hedges, but doesn’t look as good as lifted and shaped hedges.
Digging up and moving a well-established clump can be extremely difficult, so beware!
Managing and Harvesting Your Bamboo
If you have more than one row or patch of bamboo, then harvesting can become very time-consuming. It is usually best to cut it all down at once rather than trying to take just one row.
You can then cut up the shoots and store them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use them. To use, just scrape off the hard, outermost layer and then rehydrate by placing the shoots in water for a few hours.
You need at least two good harvesting seasons from a patch of bamboo before it begins to decline in productivity. After this it becomes a maintenance issue – keeping the plants trimmed and under control – until ultimately, they die. At this point, you can attempt to dig up the rhizomes and transplant them elsewhere, but usually by this stage they are too well-entrenched to be moved without severe damage.
Bamboo can also be an issue if you have a neighbor with a lot of it on their property. The roots can spread into your yard and the shoots can extend over the property line. If this is the case, you will need to have a good barrier in place to prevent this from happening.
A timber, rock or concrete wall is best, but a thick hedge works nearly as well. You just need to be sure that it extends at least one meter below ground level and is at least 1.83 meters high.
Special Considerations For Bamboo
Bamboo can be fairly easy or quite hard to control, depending on where you live and which species you are attempting to grow.
The most difficult part of growing bamboo is creating the right conditions for growth. This involves plenty of water, rich soil and a lot of room to grow. Individual clumps of bamboo can grown to thirty feet tall and spread out as far as twenty feet.
This means that if you live in a small townhouse or a cramped city environment then trying to manage your bamboo plants is going to be all but impossible. You will be better off selecting a different plant that will fit into your environment.
Bamboo is not usually a problem if you have plenty of space. The bigger issue is going to be your neighbors. As mentioned above, if you have a neighbor with a lot of bamboo on their land, then you had best put up a barrier to prevent the roots from creeping into your property and the shoots from growing over the property line.
If you live in a rural area, then your biggest concern is going to be your local environmentalists or conservationists. These people will often put up more of a fight than the average neighbor when it comes to proposed developments in rural areas. Quite often they will have research done that shows that the area you want to clear is some sort of habitat for local fauna.
This is complete nonsense in most cases, but you need to be prepared for this and have your own research done to disprove their findings.
Another thing to consider is fire. Many types of bamboo spread like wildfire and the dry shoots are very flammable. If your house would be surrounded by a large quantity of bamboo, then you might need to have it re-enforced to be more fire resistant.
The type of bamboo that you want to grow depends on where you live. For the most part you should avoid Giant Moso bamboo, as it has a tendency to take over everything in its path and is very hard to contain. If you want to grow Running Bamboo, then Caribbean or South American varieties are best because they are a lot less hardy than their Asian counterparts.
The larger bamboo types such as the Black Bamboo (which can reach fifty feet in height) and the Moon Bamboo (which has natural arches and curves in its growth) can be used in more temperate regions of the world, but generally are too large for most yards. If you prefer something a little smaller, but with a similar look, try considering the Japanese Timber Bamboo or the Pink Vine Bamboo.
House plants have been proven to clean the air in your home and make it a more enjoyable place to live. Most people don’t really realize it, but humans need contact with nature at least a little in order to maintain their sanity. Having house plants will provide you with this small link to the outside world.
Even people that work in offices with windows tend to put plants beside their desks.
Research has even shown that they can actually improve your health and help you to relieve stress. Having potted plants around the house can be a great way to bring the outdoors inside.
Of course you don’t want just any type of plant. Some cacti and succulents are great for dry areas, but not so much for wet areas. You also need to consider the amount of sunlight that your home receives.
This will be different depending on what floor of your home you live on and whether you have any windows. If you get something that requires little sunlight, then you can always move it closer to a window later.
If you want to keep things simple, most people just get a plain banana tree because of how common and easy to care for they are. Aloe Vera plants are also very easy to grow and can help heal your skin if it is rubbed on the plant. If you don’t have a lot of sunlight, then Money Trees are also a popular choice.
Another addition that many people make to their homes is hanging plants from the ceiling or walls. These are great at adding shade for windows that receive a lot of sunlight during the day. They can also make your home look a lot cooler because they are usually trailing plant that hangs down from a pot.
Whatever plants you choose to have in your home, just be sure to take care of them. Find out how much sunlight or water that they need and make sure that you are giving it to them. If you don’t have a green thumb and are worried about killing the plant, go with something hardy like the Aloe Vera or the Banana Tree.
If you want to save money, you can also look around at nurseries and garage sales for cheap plants. A lot of people start a plant and forget about it, so you can get a brand new one for free if you look around.
Whatever you get, just be sure to give your eyes a rest from the monotony of the walls from time to time.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Bamboo: a multipurpose agroforestry crop by S Diver – 2006 – agrisynergy.com
Nutritive Quality of Bamboo Browse for Livestock by JJ Halvorson, KA Cassida, KE Turner – American Forage and …, 2004 – ars.usda.gov
Bamboo: an overlooked biomass resource? by JMO Scurlock, DC Dayton, B Hames – Biomass and bioenergy, 2000 – Elsevier