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Some Qs on bamboo.

PnDPnD Posts: 17
Hi. Considering bamboo as being the best option for screening. They'd need to be varieties that grow to between 4 and 6m high, and I've shortlisted some species (tho' always open to folks' particular recommendations).

Some general Qs, please. I understand bamboo falls into two basic groups - 'invasive' and clumping? For the former, how controllable are they? I mean, I understand that if they are trimmed close to the ground, that's it - these shoots won't regrow? So, in theory it's simple to keep them in check - at least where the new shoots are accessible and trimmable. My Q would be, tho', how far away from a neighbouring boundary should you be so that roots won't travel beyond the kept-trimmed areas? Will the roots travel more than, say, 2m before popping up again beyond a trimmed area?!

How deep do their roots go before they 'travel'? I'd be planting them on a raised bank, around 0.6 - 1m high; are they likely to go down to below the 'base' ground level and then travel?

Finally, how to encourage spread - is it worth trying to propagate them? Can dug-up clumps be easily split without damage? If so, what's the process? I mean, should they be trimmed before splitting, and then new shoots would grow around them, or is it best to keep them as full-shooted plants and just divide them?

Thanks for any answers, and for any other tips :-)


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  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,904
    I planted two of the clumping type,  the clumps grew bigger as does any shrub but it never, ever trailed and came up anywhere else.
    It didn't suit  my garden,  just filled a gap at the time so we hacked it out,  was a pick axe job, but it’s never popped a shoot up since. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Nel_StaffsNel_Staffs Staffordshire Posts: 7
    We planted a clumping type several years ago.  It came in a large pot so I divided it, by putting a spade  through the roots, before planting. Over the years each plant has filled out gently and we like them.  Height wise you can prune to suit your purposes and that stem will not regain height. The rhizomes, which is how it spreads are only a couple of inches under the surface of the soil. 
    Earlier this year I heard a cracking  sound from neighbouring garden. Neighbour  had wrenched out, then lobbed a  small new shoot of  bamboo back into our garden.  I'm so glad he did.
    We investigated and discovered the rhizomes had very slowly spread about 12 inches side ways to the left in our border and a couple had gone 6 inches under the gravel board of our fence into neighbours garden.  Each rhizome had sent up new shoots. They were only a few inches tall so OH managed to hack through the offending rhizomes to separate them from main plant  and dig out the spreaders. It was hard work as the rhizomes were very very hard. We shall keep a watchful eye from now on. 
  • ErgatesErgates Devon, east of ExeterPosts: 757
    In my experience, invasive means just that. We have loads of it in our garden, planted by the previous owner. Cutting it down just seems to encourage it, and nothing will stop the suckers. Backbreaking trying to dig it out, and we always miss a few, and back it comes.
    I once heard a tour guide recommending a fool proof method of removal, I thought great, just what I need. It was cut it back, set fire to the stumps, - then move house quickly!
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 6,721
    I've always kept it in pots just to be on the safe side. It's very sneaky,it's the roots you have to contain, underground with ideally a metal barrier.any chance of a picture of where you intend to grow them
  • KardemomKardemom Posts: 5
    Fargesia rufa is very slow to gain height imo. It's a clumping type. 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,904
    The invasive ones are just that, but the clumping ones are not, as @Nel_Staffs. Says , it never strays much further than the main plant.,  no more that any other shrub.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 107
    Hi @PnD, in the UK, clumping varieties of bamboo are mainly varieties of Fargesia, which are quite fine leafed and become vase shaped as they mature.  They are less vigorous than the invasive species like Phyllostachys, but even some of these can be less aggressive in the UK than they are in their native countries.

    For all bamboos, the diameter of each new cane as it emerges will remain the same as it grows, it will not get any wider.  Once the new cane has reached its final height, normally in a matter of weeks, it will not get any higher.  I wait until my new bamboo shoots have emerged in early summer and then prune out all the weaker stems, or culms, leaving the more robust ones to add to the screen of the older canes which I have retained from previous growing seasons.

    The link below gives a very detailed explanation of how bamboo grows, it's from a US grower but all the details are still applicable to growth and maintenance of bamboos in the UK. 

    Once you understand how bamboo grows and you choose the right species for the right place, it can produce a very attractive evergreen screen which adds gentle movement and sound to your garden.  I am a great fan of them but only when they are grown in the ground and maintained properly!

    How does bamboo grow? – Lewis Bamboo

    This other link will give you an idea of the choice of bamboos available for growing in a UK garden and their various characteristics:

    https://www.bigplantnursery.co.uk/shop/plants/bamboo/

    I hope this helps.
    "Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years."  Anon.
  • Doghouse RileyDoghouse Riley Souh ManchesterPosts: 128
    We're lucky, I wasn't aware of how far rhizomes  can spread for some varieties, when I broke up this clump that "appeared" halfway down a side border and replanted it hard up against our back fence nearly thirty years ago.
    It hasn't "crept" more than six inches forwards, when it filled up the spaces either side of the small clumps.




    Conversely, our daughter inherited some bamboo  at the bottom of their garden when they bought the house, which produces tall canes, "you could roll carpets around" and the rhizomes would travel over 12ft and come up in the middle of the lawn. They had to dig a trench and  make a barrier out of "Council sized" paving stones to contain it.
    Some rhizomes still come up behind their back fence in the middle of the dirt road used by the adjacent allotment users!


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,450
    We inherited a bamboo when we moved here 11 years ago. No idea which variety but it had clearly been planted on the boundary as a screen. Our new neighbour came round to tell us they were very concerned that the bamboo was lifting their paving slabs and starting to creep under their conservatory. 

    We launched a combined, concerted effort from both sides of the fence of digging and glyphosate. The final area excavated was some 3m long be 2m wide and in places about 0.75m deep. It was a mammoth task to remove the main clump and a year-long ongoing battle to remove all the little bits which sprouted all over the place the following season.

    But we beat the bu$$er. Having seen it lift and break through tarmac in a pub car park nearby and the concrete parking pad in another house - I would never, ever plant bamboo in my garden other than in a container. I know some are supposed to not cause a problem but I suspect they are like 'dwarf' conifers - they may be slow growing but, if they like the conditions, they'll outgrow their allotted space eventually.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Doghouse RileyDoghouse Riley Souh ManchesterPosts: 128
    edited 14 October
    Topbird said:
    We inherited a bamboo when we moved here 11 years ago. No idea which variety but it had clearly been planted on the boundary as a screen. Our new neighbour came round to tell us they were very concerned that the bamboo was lifting their paving slabs and starting to creep under their conservatory. 

    We launched a combined, concerted effort from both sides of the fence of digging and glyphosate. The final area excavated was some 3m long be 2m wide and in places about 0.75m deep. It was a mammoth task to remove the main clump and a year-long ongoing battle to remove all the little bits which sprouted all over the place the following season.

    But we beat the bu$$er. Having seen it lift and break through tarmac in a pub car park nearby and the concrete parking pad in another house - I would never, ever plant bamboo in my garden other than in a container. I know some are supposed to not cause a problem but I suspect they are like 'dwarf' conifers - they may be slow growing but, if they like the conditions, they'll outgrow their allotted space eventually.

    That sounds like a nightmare similar to our daughter's

    Good advice.

    Fortunately, ours is very whimpy, it'd fall over if there wasn't a containing wire across the width at about five feet up. Only a few branches attempt to grow above the canopy each year. We were just lucky.
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