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Choosing Bamboo

With so many different varieties, choosing the appropriate bamboo can seem quite overwhelming. There are many factors to consider when choosing a suitable bamboo.

Here are the most common general criteria when choosing a bamboo:

Can you grow the bamboo in your local area? Generally, all the bamboos listed below are fairly cold hardy and have no problem growing here in the Canadian Pacific Northwest. For those planning to grow bamboo in a different climate zone, note the cold hardiness of each bamboo and make sure it is suitable for your area. Not sure of your climate zone? See Light and Temperature for Bamboo.

Are you looking for a bamboo for a planter or container? Clumping bamboos make the most ideal container bamboos but do not grow as thick or tall. Running bamboos can be planted in pots but due to their aggressive root systems they tend to get root bound much sooner. This means that you will have to repot or divide much sooner. If this is not a concern, then running bamboo will give a much wider range of choices. Also see Bamboo In Containers.

Is your planting area exposed to full sun or shade? Bamboos grow in all sorts of climates in their natural habitat. Some thrive well in full sun and some thrive in partial shade. Although some bamboos can tolerate both shade or sun, you want to choose a bamboo that grows best for your growing environment.

Are you planting the bamboo in the ground? If so, you may need to consider a containment method if selecting a running bamboo with aggressive root systems. Consider the perimeter of where the bamboo will reach (ie. close to a fence, paving or neighbors property). Access may be needed to repair fences, buildings, etc. See Controlling Bamboo Spread.

Below is a brief summary for the more common bamboos and their applications:

Short Bamboos - Under 15' (5m)
(also Shade Tolerant)

Clumping bamboo
Fargesia Jiuzhaigou '2'

These bamboos tolerate growing areas with low sunlight conditions or with dappled sunlight. Ideally, they grow best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Remarkeably, they can also tolerate full sun but will not grow to their best potential. All the bamboos in the below list are also clumping bamboos (non-invasive). Because of their non-aggressive root systems, they are most suitable for planters and containers. Here in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, these bamboos can reach heights of 8 - 15 feet (2.5 - 5m) when planted in the ground (depends on species and growing conditions). These bamboos are also very cold hardy and are able to tolerant temperatures as low as to -23°C (-10°F) to -29°C (-20°F).

Medium Height Bamboo - Between 15 - 30' (5 - 9m)

Medium height bamboo
Phyllostachys Nigra

Most of the below listed bamboos typically grow between 15 - 30 feet (5 -9m) here in the Canadian Pacific Northwest when planted in the ground. They are running bamboos (invasive root systems) and therefore installing a containment method is recommended (See Controlling Bamboo Spread). These bamboos grow best with full sun exposure. They can tolerant areas with less sunlight but their growth characteristics will be diminished (ie. shorter and thinner culms, less leaves, etc.).

Tall Timber Bamboo - Over 30' (9m)

Medium height bamboo
Phyllostyachys Edulis

For those seeking the 'awe' inspiring heights of bamboo, timber bamboos are the obvious choice. The below listed bamboos will generally reach heights of 30 - 50 feet (9 - 15m) here in the Canadian Pacific Northwest when planted in the ground. They are running bamboos (invasive root systems) and therefore installing a containment method is recommended (See Controlling Bamboo Spread). These bamboos grow best with full sun exposure and large growing areas. They can tolerant areas with less sunlight but their growth characteristics will be diminished (ie. shorter and thinner culms, less leaves, etc.).

Bamboos for the Interior

Bambusa ventricosa
Bambusa ventricosa
(Buddha Belly)

Bamboos in general do not grow very well indoors as reproducing their natural growing environment can be quite challenging. However if attempted, the indoor environment must have excellent sun exposure. Good examples are areas with large, south facing windows. Most importantly, good air flow is a must. Good examples are large open spaces or solariums where air is not stagnant. Humidity is also another factor to consider as well depending on the species. Tropical and sub-tropical bamboos are the best candidates for indoor bamboos. However, here at Bamboo Botanicals we do not grow tropical bamboos.

If you have specific project needs, please inquire with Bamboo Botanicals and arrangements can be made to have tropical bamboos brought in. Here are a list of some bamboos that have been proven to do well in suitable indoor environments.