A Chick Does Tropical Garden

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bamboo Madness

I LOVE bamboo!I'm mad about it!   I wish I had a large enough garden to have every single variety!  Too me, bamboo is the quintessential tropical plant that every tropical garden should have!   I actually think that EVERY garden has room for a bamboo plant or two.

Bamboo is actually a type of grass, but easier to take care of -- no mowing required! It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world.

There are two different types of bamboo -- the "running" and the "clumping" kind.  "Running bamboo" sends out "runners" through the soil, which causes the bamboo to spread quickly and can also become invasive.  It is tough to control running bamboo, so unless you have a huge piece of land that you want filled with it, I would recommend you keep running bamboo in pots.

"Clumping" bamboo stays confined to a smaller area and does not send out runners.  It it perfect for a smaller garden.  Depending upon the kind of bamboo, the base will not get much larger than 10 feet in diameter.

Oldhamii Bamboo
My garden has three different types of "clumping" bamboo.  My favorite is "Oldhamii", (pronounced "Old Hammy-eye" -- sounds kinda like a monster).  It is also known as "Giant Timber" bamboo.  This bamboo gets up to 5" in diameter and the branches do not grow all the way down to the base of the bamboo as some other bamboos do.  I do, however, trim back any leaves that grow on the culms (stalks) up to about as far as I can reach, because I love to see the bamboo culms.  Here are a couple of photos of Oldhamii.  It is fairly cold hardy and will handle temperatures below freezing.

Each year the culms emerge from the ground larger than the year before.  When I first got this plant, it had 2 culms, about 2" in diameter -- about 3 years ago.  Now the culms emerge at about 3-1/2 inches.  Some this year came up smaller, but I think that was due to the very bad freeze we had this year.  Hopefully next year they will come up thicker.

Here is a closer view of the culms of the Oldhamii Bamboo.  This particular bamboo can get up to 55' tall. Right now the base is about 5 feet in diameter.  It will eventually begin to grow into my yard, but then I will just have to move the garden boundaries.  I wouldn't care if this thing took over my yard!

Here is another photo of Oldhamii -- from a distance so you can see its height and width.  I have it growing close to a palm tree, but I love the look of palms and bamboo growing into each other -- reminds me of the plants growing naturally in the hills of Hawaii!

Below is a photo of a little hummingbird perching in the bamboo.  For some reasons, these little creatures loved sitting in my bamboo.  I loved watching them!

Another kind of bamboo in my garden is called "Doli Green Stripe".  This bamboo could get up to 3" in diameter.  Right now the culms are only emerging at a about an inch thick.  I think this is because I have moved and tried to divide the plant, and it didn't like it too much, so has taken a while to "take off".  I love the look of this bamboo, though -- more yellow in color with wide leaves, and a very distinct green verticle stripe on the culms.  Here are a few photos:

The last kind of bamboo in my garden is Weaver's bamboo.  This bamboo is very graceful looking and the culms can get up to 3 inches thick.  The first year I had this plant, I pulled it up from the ground and divided it with a hatchet and planted part of it in another corner of my yard.  Like I said, I'm pretty rough with plants.  Both plants survived!  It was hard work, but worth it.  I have both of these plants planted next to queen palms and love the way it looks.  They create a very "jungle-y" look to my garden.

I got all of my bamboo from Bamboo Texas.  I had also previously had a tropical black bamboo, but it could not withstand the freezes and alas, was short lived.  That one was one of my very favorites (and also most expensive).  You can also find out more information about bamboo at the Texas American Bamboo Society Website or Bamboo Web.

Just one more thing:  Go MAD about Bamboo!



T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun

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T.K. Goforth is a musician and author of the well-received book "Chord Piano is Fun!" She also writes a music blog called "Chord Piano Chick's Mostly Musical Musings.
Chord Piano Is Fun