Bamboos have been a popular choice among discerning gardeners in the UK since the Victorian era, thanks to the plants’ graceful lines, exotic looks, wide variety of colours and sizes and immense usefulness when it comes to landscaping.
A fact that you may not know is that bamboo is not a shrub or a tree but a member of the grass family. As such, the initial stems that a gardener receives will not grow any taller or thicker themselves, but will instead lead to the production of new stems as the root system grows. These new shoots will be noticeably taller and thicker and gradually the bamboo will reach its full, impressive height.
Two of the most popular forms of bamboo in British gardens are fargesia and phyllostachys. Fargesia bamboo is a favourite among gardeners who want the more slender stems growing in clumps, while horticulturalists seeking robust tall bamboo, with its classic thick woody stems for hedging or screening purposes favour the phyllostachys varieties. Another Popular Variety of Bamboo are the Pseudosasa.
Maintaining bamboo in your garden is relatively easy, so long as some basic guidelines are followed. Bamboo plants prefer moist soil and dislike drying out. This is not to say that bamboo cannot handle low rainfall once they are well established in a garden, however. The secret of success lies with good soil cultivation and the use of organic matter which will help them to retain moisture.
Establishing bamboo plants initially may require careful irrigation, if the planting takes place during a dry spell. An excellent mulch for the plants can be made from bamboo’s own leaf litter and sheaths, so resist the temptation to clear them away as they form around the base of the plants. To promote good stem display, sensible pruning of the lower branches and the thinner bamboo canes will do the job nicely.