Thursday, 13 October 2016


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Bamboo always looks fab in a garden, but way too often it is shoved in a pot and looks poorly and sick.  However get the planting right and they can form impressive clumps that add structure and drama in a garden.
Bamboo can be invasive, taking over small areas and looking unsightly. Although some types of bamboo are vigorous there are plenty of varieties to choose from that are slower growing and will suit a garden border.

Bamboo is a evergreen, woody perennial grown for their attractive cane stems. They are either classed as running or clump forming bamboos.  Running bamboos spread extensively by producing long underground stems (rhizomes) and will spread rapidly.  These include Arundinaria, Bashania, Chimonobambusa, Clavinodum, Hibanobambusa, Indocalamus, phyllostachys,  Pleioblastus, Pseudosasa, Sasa, Sasaella, Sasamorpha, Semiarundinaria, Sinobambusa and Yushania.

Clump forming bamboos are better behaved but will also spread out each year. They include: Bambusa, Chusquea, Dendrocalamus, Drepanostachyum, Fargesia, Himalayacalamus, Schizostachyum, Shibataea and Thamnocalamus.

Bamboos can be restricted by planting in a pot, although they never reach their full potential and always look a little sickly.  It is better to encase them with a physical barrier when planting, using paving slabs, corrugated iron sheets or root barrier materials.  However a large trench has to be dug (1 to 1.5 metres square) and the barrier needs to extend 6 cm above ground so a mulch around the base is essential.

Position in a sunny position in moist, but well drained, soil. Prepare the soil prior to planting by digging in well rotted farm manure to ensure the soil retains lots of moisture.  Bamboos are best planted in the spring as this allows them to establish upright canes during the summer and root into the soil prior to the windier weather at the end of the year. Plant the root ball slightly lower than the soil level and water and mulch after planting.

Water your bamboo regularly during dry periods and feed with a nitrogen feed in the spring, and a general purpose fertiliser for the rest of the growing season. the leaves can be stripped from the canes to provide a decorative stem effect. Allow the bamboo leaves to collect around the base of the plant as they contain silica which helps to provide strength and stability.

To ensure fresh new growth, divide the bamboo every couple of years in the spring.  Reduce the canes to 30 cm high and cut through the root ball, retaining the younger rhizomes and canes.