Bamboo in containers

Discussion in 'Poaceae' started by Sue W, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Sue W

    Sue W Member

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    I would like to plant both black and blue bamboo in 2 large containers on our deck. I would appreciate advice on which types of the above are best suited to container growth and where to purchase the plants. They are not available at the nurseries I have tried so far but I hope to find the black bamboo at least if not the blue, somewhere on Vancouver Island.
    Looking forward to your replies.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Black is a super common item in this region so you're not being able to find it could be seasonal, with them being found aplenty later in the year. If by blue bamboo you mean fountain bamboo that went into bloom awhile back but there are new generation seedlings on the market. Look for these instead as divisions of clones dating from before the bloom cycle may come into bloom after purchase and deteriorate. Also be sure to plant this one in nearly full shade, if the situation will be sunny choose another kind. Golden bamboo makes a bushy specimen with a percentage of swollen "fishpole" culms in tubs and is a superior choice for that use. Like black bamboo it is hardy to about 0F in the ground and so may be somewhat at risk to frost damage in tubs here (fountain bamboo is subzero hardy). Black bamboo also has a comparatively poor habit for container use, tending to not fill in well - and when producing culms of some length apt to bend to nearly horizontal under the weight of water droplets. This can be a nuisance near access routes.

    http://www.americanbamboo.org/SpeciesSourceListPages/PlantAndProductSources.html#SourcesForeign
     
  3. Sue W

    Sue W Member

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    Thanks for the very useful suppliers list. The blue bamboos that I was considering are Himalayacalamus Hookerianus or Drepanostrachym Khasyanum.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Those are tender.
     
  5. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    If you're planting in containers I'd consider Bambusa Ventricosa "Buddha belly", it's very unique looking with bulbous culms and it gets the full bulbous effect exactly when forced in a slightly smaller pot. I can vouch that it's easy to grow from seed and there are sources on ebay for them if you can't find it anywhere else.

    I have some started from seed, some sources I've found say it's cold hardy to -7c but I'm planting some in pots for the patio and some directly outside to see what happens.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    A tropical genus, Bambusa is not hardy in PNW. Plants set out in ground and especially in pots (and left outside over winter) will not enjoy long lives here.

    Reports of survival of a low minimum temperature do not automatically indicate full northern hardiness, coming through in attractive condition. A plant must also be able to tolerate prolonged freezing of the soil to be hardy in the north. Many kinds of plants will endure the brief exposure to quite low temperatures followed immediately by a return to summer-like conditions that is not unknown in southerly areas. With reports of surviving a certain temperature it must be determined what, specifically "survival" constitutes in that example. In the case of a bamboo it may mean it froze to the ground but came back from the roots, or the leaves all died but the culms leafed back out later.
     
  7. JCardina

    JCardina Active Member

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    Yeah I plan on bringing the patio ones in pots inside over the winter. The outside ones I'm planting directly in the ground will be in various sheltered areas around our property and I'll mulch them in the fall and see if I can get them through the winter, if not I suspect they'll come back up again in the spring. It's fun to try anyway.

    We have a lot of plants that grow here that are not supposed to, as long as you give them a good thick mulch in the fall they come through.
     
  8. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Bambusa mulitplex "Alphonse Karr" is the best of the bambusa for growing in a pot, in my opinion. But you've got to bring it in for the winter. Black bamboo just doesn't work well in pots: never really attains its virtue, which is a large clump in a shady place, where mature culms can be thinned to maximum effect, and as Ron says, they tend to droop a lot. That being said, if you are looking for a local source (Comox Valley), you can send me a private message and I will give you contact info. for a local grower who's got it in stock.

    Yes, a lot of marginal plants can be nurtured through a coastal winter, especially if you are beside the ocean in Comox. Doesn't mean anything goes, though. The bamboos you list will have short, fairly tortured lives in the ground. Minimum temps for those you've listed is -7 celsius: in a very mild year, you might make it in certain microclimates, but over a 5 or 6 year span, your locale is almost certain to drop lower. It's worse, in my mind, to lose a plant that has made it for a few years, and is just starting to look good. But to each their own. Consider any number of other clumping bamboos: there are a great many hardy varieties that look beautiful.
     

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