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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Will Fear Keep You From Growing this Awesome Garden Workhorse?

So many gardeners avoid running bamboo because of its reputation for being able to send runners a long way underground and pop up to create massive stands of inpenetrable canes.   I personally love my running bamboo, it returns so much useful material for such a small investment.   I can't say that I have seen runners travel very far either.  That may depend on water availability and soil conditions, though.   Here in the PNW there is no summer rain so the ground is quite dry and may suppress formation of runners in my largely unirrigated garden.  None of my bamboos get supplemental water at all.  My main bamboo for canes at present is Phyllostachys nuda, on the right, also known as a source of edible shoots.  I haven't tried them.
On the left but younger is P. vivax and P. nigra 'Henon', one set behind the other.  Someday they may make canes worthy of their reputation.  Can't wait.  I have an older larger clump of P. nuda (shown below 4 years ago) that has provided me 10+ years with literally hundreds of tomato stakes and 8' tall canes used to add height to my welded wire deer fences, with wire stretched between the canes at various levels.  It is incredibly beautiful in the winter when all the surrounding deciduous trees are bare and ugly.

Sasaella kurilensis 'Shimofuri', which has pinstripe variegation, makes an attractive accent in a shady place and spreads very slowly, at about 6' tall-

Finally, Sasaella masamuneana 'Albostriata', known as Sasa Masa, is useful as an evergreen hedge or backdrop, at about 4' tall-

They don't come any more low-maintenance than that.  This is 27' of plant material all from one gallon pot.

I have to comment also that my one clumping Fountain bamboo, Fargesia nitida, flowered one year.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what happens when a bamboo flowers, the plant considers that it has achieved its life purpose and dies.  So... no more Fountain bamboo.

So, for my most practical plant collection, the award goes to (drumroll) running bamboo!


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