I like bamboo plants, both for decorative purposes, and also its significance in culture, especially in the East. I find bamboo beautiful and evocative, and there are so many forms and varieties of bamboo that you could never run out of ideas on how to best implement bamboo, either in your home, or garden. Bamboo is found worldwide, and there are even a few places in the United States where some species grow, so its a misconception that bamboo is an import from the Far East, although they do play a big role there.
The endless uses of bamboo plants in Asia
Bamboo plants play a large role in many Asian countries. Bamboo wood is used to construct entire houses in Asia, as construction scaffoldings, as food for people (the young shoots, I mean), and also indoor and outdoor decor, farmyard tools, baskets, chopsticks, engravings, and lots more. A certain type of bamboo serves as the main diet of the giant panda in China. That’s how useful bamboo really is, it’s mind boggling.
Today, bamboo blinds, floors, and other wood products are more popular than they have ever been. Although it bamboo is technically grass and not wood, bamboo plants have the strength and durability of wood, as well as the beautiful appearance of grass; which combined, make them endearing collectibles.
Bamboo “lucky plants” are now sold in drugstores, as well as alongside nurseries and DIY hardware stores. It is amazing how many places you can find bamboo plants for sale, these days. Often, you’ll see them on the counter in whole stores that don’t specialize in that sort of thing. This isn’t so much because they are lucky, as because they are absolutely adorable. They are easily shaped into a variety of novel positions, are easy to take care of, and can easily fit into any small display pot.
Bamboo can be grown in many sizes depending on species
Note: Bamboo are one of the fastest growing plants in the world; some giant bamboo may grow several feet in a day!
One of the neat things about bamboo plants is that you can get them for basically any size you prefer, even though they can grow quite tall. The culms of giant bamboo may extend to 30 meters long! If you keep a suitable bamboo species in captivity (note there are lots of species) and take care of it properly, you can maintain the bamboo at just about any suitable size. How is this done? You can use ribbons, string, or wires to shape the plant as it grows, and I have seen many novel geometrical forms made out of this beautiful and versatile plant.
The type of bamboo plant influences its use in the garden. Normally, bamboo can be classed into several habits of growth:
- Dwarf bamboo (small, low ground cover types)
- Clump bamboo (grows in clump form, resembling fountains)
- Running bamboo (very low growth that runs on the ground)
- Giant bamboos (the largest types)
The key to controlling bamboo is through managing their rhizome growth by pruning, or edging off the superfluous rhizomes. There are many smaller bamboo species though, that will grow slowly and can be potted and kept indoors.
Bamboo makes a good gift these days…
Out of ideas on what to give a friend who likes green stuff? If you have to get someone something, and don’t want to buy another calendar, a bamboo plant may be the answer. After all, bamboo plants are still considered somewhat novel, yet still generic enough to make a good gift. But, let’s be sure our bamboo gift doesn’t wind up in a corner of a house to wilt away. You can give it to someone whose tastes you don’t know very well, and they will be as likely as not to appreciate it.
Bamboo growers are usually ardent fans as well. Not just limited to gardeners, bamboo finds fans in architects, interior designers, carpenters, and botanical researchers. If you are looking to give your garden a unique look and feel, try adding bamboo groves as opposed to the standard shrub hedges, and watch your garden stand out.
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