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Potting my bamboo

BagzBagz Posts: 38
I'm going to put my bamboo in a pot in the ground as a precaution, incase it gets out of control. I'm going to use one of them big rubber buckets. Do I need to put holes in the base for drainage?? Will the roots grow through the holes? If I don't put holes in, and do I risk drowning the plant?


  • Yep, without holes you'll have built a pond and it'll drown. What sort of bamboo have you got? If you get the non invasive clump forming ones, then no need to worry.

    You can get root control bags for fruit trees:

    But don't know how effective they'd be for something more keen like a bamboo. Anyone?
  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    The key is your variety of bamboo. As above, if it's non-invasive, you don't need to worry about a pot to contain it. If invasive, though, a pot won't contain it. The roots will be out through the drainage holes and off or even up the sides of the pot and out and off.

    I speak from bitter experience. I once inherited a garden in which a bright spark of a landscape designer buried an old laundry trough and planted an invasive variety. He left the plug in the trough, he said, to stop it spreading through the plug hole. The roots ran up the sides of the trough and out and off. A nightmare.

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892
    Supernoodle wrote (see)
    ...What sort of bamboo have you got? If you get the non invasive clump forming ones, then no need to worry.

    This is the important point. A few bamboos are invasive. But many are not.

    So the first thing is to establish whether yours is an invasive one. You ought to be able to identify the species. There are not many 'popular' bamboos. You might have the label, which might actually say non-invasive or clump-forming.

    Alternatively, if you've had the plant growing for a few years, then it should be obvious whether it has behaved itself, or not. There's no point in going to a lot of effort if it is completely unnecessary.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,963

    Not any help to you, just a little anecdote - I have an area of woodland with a clearing in it that can get rather soggy after heavy rain, so I planted what I thought would be a big bamboo that I could use for runner bean poles and staking. But the garden centre had put the wrong label on it and it is a chest high clump forming one with delicate canes!

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Oh blimey, Busy-Lizzie - imagine it had been the other way round - you'd wanted a small clump forming one and got a big invasive one!

  • BagzBagz Posts: 38
    Thanks for the advice guys.

    Identifying it may not be easy. I originally pulled up a young shoot from a larger plant at work to get my bamboo. Judging by the leaf and cain colour etc it could still be a number of varieties. The mother plant is around 4 meters tall with a spread of about 3-4 meters.

    I've heard stories of bamboo popping up in neighbours gardens 3 or 4 doors down..... surely not???
  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    There are hundreds of species of bamboo. But the number of varieties sold in garden centres tends to be quite small. If you've seen the mother plant, then that may give you a good idea of its ultimate size.

    You say you pulled up a young shoot. That does sound a bit onimous, as though the plant is keen to spread itself around. And you've very helpfully cooperated with it, by taking its offspring back to your own garden.

    The most popular bamboo, the one most often recommended on TV shows and readily available in garden centes is Golden Bamboo, (Phyllostachys aurea), and the closey related black variety (Phyllostachys nigra). Neither of those are invasive bamboos. Although they are both unsuitable for small gardens, IMO, simply because they grow so tall, and also tend to flop. Planting in a pot can help to keep them small.

    Another common bamboo is Sasa palmata. This is very popular because it has large paddle like leaves, and does appeal to people who want a tropical look. It does have a very distinctive appearance. This leaf image from wiki...

    This one definitely is invasive, and should not be planted in open soil in a small garden. That is the one to beware of.


  • I put a fargesia nitida in earlier this year.  Now I'd heard about Busy-Lizzie's experience, I'm going to watch it like a hawk.  Any sign of unclump-like behaviour and it's coming out image

  • BagzBagz Posts: 38




    Don't know if anyone else can identify this?  But as mentioned the mother plant doesnt seem too aggressive, so i'm going to assume this will clumpimage

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Those photos are very interesting.

    At first sight the leaves do look very much like the dreaded Sasa.

    But to my mind, those stems (culms) do NOT look like Sasa. Sasa stems tend to be slimmer and more bendy and do not tend to branch. Yours look a lot more like proper bamboo canes.

    So I'm not sure that yours is.

    You may be OK, but it needs watching.

    The way that invasive bamboos spread is by thick underground roots, which are just beneath the surface of the soil. If a bamboo is non-invasive clump-forming, then it will not attempt to put out long roots near the surface.

    So the best thing is just to see what's beneath the surface of the soil. Take a few spots about a foot away from the plant, and scrape down about an inch, and see whether there are any long exploratory roots radiating out from the plant. The absence of surface roots now doesn't mean that the plant might not put some out when it grows more. Just keep an eye out for any, now, and in the furture.

    Or was the shoot that you got, from the parent plant, coming up from a long root just beneath the surface that had been sent out by the parent plant.

    It's only a little plant, just keep an eye on it.

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