If you are looking for a good type of bamboo to grow, try going for the clump bamboos. Bamboo growth forms are generally divided into running and clumping types. The clumping bamboos are good for any garden that desires an oriental feel, and they tend to grow slowly, since the stems or culms clump together. Clump bamboos are mostly tropical or subtropical in origin, but they are adaptable, and can grow in temperate climates, provided they are not frequently subjected to drastic temperature changes. Most temperate climates that are not too northerly, are able to accommodate many species of clumping bamboos.
Tolerence to frost
The main clump bamboo genera include Chusquea, Bambusa, Sinarudinara, and Thamnocalamus. For temperate climates, Chusquea is most tolerant of frost and colder temperatures, of which Chusquea culeou in particular, comes to mind. Chusquea coronalis is another attractive clumping bamboo, with arching culms and small leaves and can attain 12-15 feet in height.
The other bamboo genera have varying degrees of cold adaptability; for example, most of the Bambusa varieties do not stand cold very well, with the exception of Bambusa multiplex. Bambusa multiplex rivieriorum (Chinese Goddess) and Bambusa textilis (Royal Bamboo) are two increasingly sought after bamboos because they are both beautiful and cold hardy. Clump bamboo rhizomes are very hardy in general, and can sit out cold winters only to come back in the spring. This is one of the main advantages of clump bamboos – they regenerate well.
Clumping bamboos propagate through sending out underground rhizomes which grow only a short distance before sending up new culms or stems. These culms will then form new bamboo clumps that expand slowly around the immediate edges of the main clump.
Propagation of clump bamboos is either through planting container grown culms directly into the soil, or via rhizome cuttings. A root bound container grown clump bamboo can be planted into the soil in March to early April, just before spring growth begins. Tropical species should be inserted a little later, in May to early June.
Rhizome cuttings consisting of a rooted culm base can be transferred to the garden in similar fashion to container grown clumps. The earlier the planting is done, the more time the bamboo has in establishing itself in the garden soil and attaining size increases by winter.
Soil and watering needs
Clumping bamboos thrive better if the soil has inclusions of organic matter. Although they can grow in sandy or clayey soils, the addition of compost helps in speeding up growth. Livestock manure are the cheapest types of compost, and work fine for bamboos.
Watering should be done regularly (3 times a week in hot weather) during the first few weeks of planting, and after that deliberately slowed down to once a week, after the plant has gotten established and growing, unless you don’t mind a tad bit more vigorous growth than is the norm.
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