Bamboo - hardy in zone 4(b) to zone 9

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Leo Schordje

wilted blossom
Aug 22, 2006
Reaction score
NE Illinois
OKay, not even an orchid, but I think growing Bamboo is cool.
Phyllostachys aureosulcata hort. cultivar "Spectabilis" - Golden Yellow Groove Bamboo - the "Spectacular" cultivar. This is the most exquisite of the cultivars available of hardy bamboo. Canes are a light lemon yellow, with a green sulcus groove and occasional thin random green stripes on the culms. Larger canes can look hand painted. New shoots developing in the sun can be quite red for a few months until they age out to bright yellow. The normal color form is green with a dull yellow sulcus groove. This is the total opposite and anything but dull.
Winter hardy in Minneapolis. Evergreen to -10F, rhizomes are hardy to -25 F. In zone 5 a 5 year old planting can be expected to average 15 to 20 ft canes. In zone 7 capable of doing 40 ft canes. Will be shorter after a severe winter top kill of the above ground canes. Makes a great wind or privacy screen.
*** local customers only - no shipping available (too big and clumbsy to box up) **** Chicago - Milwaulee & St. Louis Customers I can deliver. I will be speaking in Batavia in October, BOS members can order for delivery then or before if we can figure a meeting point. Minneapolis customers - I can send your plant up with Kathy Creger or one of the other AOS judges that come down monthly to the Chicago judging center.

$46 per 3 gallon pot.

Bamboo as a landscape plant is misunderstood and much maligned, undeservedly so. The truth is that the first 2 or 3 years after you plant it you must baby it to keep it alive. Then for the rest of your life, you are fighting to keep it under control (well, not really fighting, but every year a little time must be put in to grooming the growve). The bad reputation comes from people planting bamboo then forgetting about it for 20 years, then after it has run wild they have a major job getting a path cut through their property. Bamboo is a moderately high maintainance landscape plant that properly groomed is beautiful beyond words.
1.) Give your bamboo a large enough space to develop, so it can do what it does naturally without having to be fought. My main grove is 35 ft x 3 ft. I recomend 50+ square feet minimum for the medium and large sized Phyllostachys.
2.) plan a barrier, either an expanse of mowed lawn, or a rhizome barrier 12 inches down or so. A raised bed works also. Compacted gravel driveway is also effective. Or annually edge your grove using a 12 inch wrecking blade in a battery powered Saws-All. Do not plant near a block or brick foundation building. Bamboo can not hurt concrete (unless it is badly cracked already). If you used a Saws All to edge your grove, you can then use Round-up to kill off out of bound rhizomes. Caution is that Roundup will travel up the rhizome and weaken the main grove if you don't sever the rhizome before using round-up. I prefer the no chemical approach, but Round Up is an effective last resort to regain control.
3.) Groom your grove - beginning year 4 harvest excess shoots (as they just come up - very tasty- cook like asparagus) - harvest smallest canes for arts & crafts projects. Leave only 2 or 3 of the largest canes per square foot. Excess large canes can be used for making fences, furniture, etc. Clear out dead canes and canes over 5 years old every spring.

Do the above, and you will be rewarded with the uncompromising beauty of bamboo.
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Also have 2 one gallon pots of Plieoblastus viridistriata - Dwarf Greenstriped Bamboo. - $ 10 each plus shipping costs actual. This is a wonderfull bamboo, hardy in the Chicago area. It will max out at about 3 feet tall, usually about 2 feet tall. The leaves open in spring are a lovely bright soft green with darker green stripes. Toward end of summer, the variegation fades to an even medium green. In winter usually the above ground parts winter kill, if not, cut it low before the ground thaws is spring. New growth from the rhizomes in spring will be absolutely lovely. A runner type bamboo, it will spread, plant in an area where it has some space to roam, say 6 to 10 square feet. The rhizome stays close to the surface, usually within 6 inches so the rhizome barrier does not have to be very deep. Personally I don't use a barrier, it stays fairly well in the slightly raised bed I planted it in.

If interested these can be shipped in the 1 gallon can, or I can also ship divisions, partially bare rooted, which will weigh a lot less and save on postage.

end of season photo (variegation has faded already) my front yard border.
I have black bamboo growing by the side of the house...its beautiful. And in the spring, if it grows anywhere I don't want it to, steamed bamboo shoots!
Sounds beautiful, looks beautiful but TOO high maintanence for me! Keep posting your pics, I'll enjoy it that way! Thanks!
Robert - I need to post more pictures, I'll put some up over the weekend. I have a limited number of pictures of other bamboo varieties on my website linked to the "For Sale" page toward the bottom where the other now out of stock bamboos are listed.

You can find a few photos at they are competitors, not my supplier, just a few good pictures. Remeber, my price here on the "Spectabilis' is a 3 gallon division, and includes a local delivery, there is no additional shipping charge. So I feel my price is competative.

As to Rose's comment about maintainance - Bamboo really only needs some work twice a year, so less than a fancy hybrid tea rose bed, fruit trees, or a topiary hedge. But Rose is right, bamboo does need more work than traditional landscape plantings. AND if you neglect your bamboo for 5 or more years, if it survives, it will wander about and go visit your neighbors.Then they will speak badly of you.
My Mom has been after me to get her some Bamboo......LOL how long would it take it to wander around 80 acres?

It would take half a century or more for a single pot of bamboo spread over 80 acres, as a guide, for a dense privacy screen within 5 years I would plants pots about 3 to 5 feet on center. If your goal is 10 years down the road, 5 or 10 feet on center would work. My planting took about 8 years for a single pot to run the length of my bed, and 15 years to densely fill in a 30 by 3 foot bed. My planting of the normal green with yellow groove form of Phyllostachys aureosulcata is now 25 years old. Phyllostachys bamboo run, but it is not supernatural nor extra-terrestrial. It really needs some loving care the first couple years.

And once it takes off, it needs at least a little loving discipline :evil: to keep it attractive and under control. Remeber - ALL Bamboo shoots are EDIBLE and all Phyllostachys are particularly tasty. (Pandas can't be wrong) Canes (Culms) reach their maximum structural strength at 4 or 5 years, and are very useful for all kinds of projects. Big ones for furniture & construction. Slender ones as stakes and can be used to weave screens and fences. Split canes are great for weaving baskets and other projects. Leaves, twigs, culm sheaths all can be used for hand made paper. Anything rattan is used for can be done with bamboo.

In China the average successful subsistance farmer, in addition to the fields for rice or millet and veggies has on average 1/4 acre of timber size bamboo to provide a the families needs for fiber & construction material, and shoots in season for food. Products from the bamboo then also become part of the family income. You don't have a viable farm unless you have a 1/4 acre bamboo grove.

Food for thought, so to speak.
well she is not wanting to have 80 acres of Bamboo but she is wanting to plant it in a couple of places and where she is wanting to plant it space would not be a issue it could spread as much as it wanted....LOL though I do wonder the one spot is at the edge of the pasture in a semi swampy place......think cows would eat it?

I have black bamboo growing by the side of the house...its beautiful. And in the spring, if it grows anywhere I don't want it to, steamed bamboo shoots!

I agree - Black Bamboo is stunningly beautiful. Sadly, it is at best marginally hardy in zone 6 and definitely a failure in zone 5 & 4. I keep some in a pot, and bring it in for the winter.

though I do wonder the one spot is at the edge of the pasture in a semi swampy place......think cows would eat it?
Cows, horses and deer will will reach as far as they can through a fence to munch on bamboo. Especially the new shoots. Bamboo and Bovines don't mix, you can have one, or the other.

Also, bamboo will survive flooded soils only for a short time - a few weeks at most. They do not do well on year round swampy soils - except a few specialized species. None of which I have in stock right now. They do best halfway up the hill from the stream, not too dry, not too wet. 50 & 100 year flood plains are okay -the annual flood plain is not good bamboo habitat.

Well folks, I am now sold out of Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' until next summer. The folks at the Milwaukee Bonsai Society snapped them up. I had an arm wrestling match in the aisle over the last pot !!!

The Dwarf Greenstriped Bamboo is sold out for this week - I just need to dig some more and give it a month to make sure it is a viable division.

Anyone who wants the Dwarf Green-striped Bamboo, Plieoblastus viridi-striata, please let me know and I will dig to order. $10 / 1 gallon division with rhizome section at least 3 culms (canes) long.

Similarly I can dig to order the normal green with dull yellow groove form of Phyllostachys aureosulcata - the Hardy Yellow-Groove Bamboo. This will be $35 per 3 culm long rhizome division. Shorter divisions will be $25. None are dug at this moment, the potential supply is nearly unlimited (my grove could supply 50 + divisions if I took the time to dig them).