Was: Hello all, plus pics; now: bamboo discussions


@tonyOmahaz5 , I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to discourage you. Many factors can play a role in how quickly that tub gets filled up with rhizomes and root bound.

I don’t want to add to any hysteria, but if there is a way out then it is possible for a rhizome to squeeze through. I think a lot of the bamboo hysteria is due to the fact that the shooting season is so dramatic. Where just a few weeks prior there was a flat well-manicured lawn, now there are 10’s or even 100’s of giant shoots rocketing out of the ground at an alarming growth rate. One thing that must be kept in mind is bamboo spends an enormous amount of energy in producing these shoots. These shoots meanwhile are not photosynthesizing or at least not in any large amount. If you knock the shoots down prior to them leafing out, then you just starved that rhizome of all it’s hard work. New shoots are quite tender, if I don’t like where one is I simply kick it over.

Also, shooting season is a short time frame. My phyllostachys shoot over a few week period. Sure you may get a summer whip shoot or two, but those are few and far between. For me, I would much rather keep a grove of bamboo maintained/contained than deal with this pervasive bahiagrass we have down here. A simple kick or sickle slice vs. a grass that continually chokes both my trees and lawnmower. @Barkslip if after X amount of years you do get an escaped rhizome and it’s on your property, I wouldn’t worry terribly about it. I routinely have bamboo rhizomes escape through drainage holes in 30 gallon pots. They may send up a much smaller “survival” shoot or two after removal of the first. This is evidence the rhizome is dying, which is great for my compacted clay soil.

Dax, I can see your concern for the property line. I wish I could say you are 100% guaranteed never to have a rhizome run into those woods, but unfortunately I can’t. I think odds are very low for the next decade or so. If you ever did have an issue with this border you could till (as long as no piping or wiring is present). I visited the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens a few years back, which is a historic bamboo garden. They simply till between the small plots of bamboo. I don’t know if they till once or twice a year, but I imagine once during the fall would be sufficient. These plots are many decades old, but each year there are a decent amount of shoots in the allocated plots.

@Barkslip Fargesia dracocephala ‘rufa’ is an actual bamboo, it’t not the same as the species you mentioned above. One source says it’s hardy to -5 F, and grows 6 foot with 0.5 inch canes. Another source (Bamboo Garden) says it’s hardy to zones 5 through 9 and grows to 10 foot with 0.5 inch canes. Once again, it’s a clumper this means it’s does not send out horizontal rhizomes. No barrier is needed. I don’t know how well it will do for you guys in your zone, but it can’t hurt to try one. Sure, you would never get the amount of poles as compared to say P. Bissetii, but not many bamboo species do in temperate zones.

I hope this was some help.



Lewis Bamboo is a good site for info and where we purchased our plants. The pictures of Giant Bamboo growth are incredible.

We have a small, ten-year-old, grove of P. Aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ with a 24” rhizome barrier. Spectabilis is similar to the Yellow Groove but somewhat smaller and, perhaps, a little more cold hardy. You will see how shallow the rhizomes are as your Yellow Groove grows. We have found that our Spectabilis has reached about 22’ (taller than Lewis Bamboo said to expect) here in zone 6A/5B with a culm diameter of 1-1.25”. In milder winters, it has retained leaves but in hard winters such as 2014 and 2015 there was leaf drop and culm damage especially to the very tall culms. We chose Spectabilis because of its cold hardiness, look and full-sun tolerance. Ideally, we would have liked a clumping bamboo but very few can tolerate full sun. Overall, we have been happy with Spectabilis.
Since our grove was to be a privacy screen against our rear property line, we opted for a barrier. Our bamboo has grown over the barrier but, if the area around the barrier is clear, it is easy to prune the rhizomes as they escape. If you excavate, line and backfill your area with screened fill, it is unlikely that you would need a barrier deeper than 24”. Screened fill provides no obstacles that would tend to push rhizomes downward as cousinfloyd pointed out. Another option you could consider is angling the barrier outward at the top to promote rhizomes growing upward. This is not ideal but, if you are committed to rhizome pruning, this makes it easier to see escapees as well as reducing the risk of rhizomes diving. Some websites suggest a sand moat around a grove without the need for a barrier to make subsoiling and rhizome pruning easier.

If we were to do it again, we would consider a sand moat around the outside of the barrier to help keep the area clear of other growth and to use an edger if needed. Other bamboos we would consider would be P. Nuda and the Bissetii Dwarf (as both cousinfloyd and BambooMan have suggested.) Bissetii is cold hardy, shorter and the shoots are said to be edible.


@cousinfloyd I was looking through your list you’ve got some nice treasures. I feel rude for not asking sooner. Are you working with any bamboo at the moment? Any species that performed well for you? I see you are wanting P. parvifolia, I will be making quite a few rhizome divisions this coming Feb. The last 4 shooting seasons has really tested my patience. Of course, it will be a while before the plants are stabilized enough to ship.


I had maybe around 60 different bamboos at the height of that obsession. I ended up being a little too cold for bamboo, zone 5, around -15F average lows, the main problem being frozen ground with their shallow root system and evergreen leaves.

There were no winters where it was evergreen, and about every year died back to the ground. I think it was 13-14 winter that the ground froze really deep, maybe 3’, and ended up losing 99% of my bamboo.


Here are a bunch of my bamboo photos in random order. All of the photos of things made/done with bamboo are at my place. All the photos of mature bamboo groves are from nearby friends’ and neighbors’ groves, which is where I’ve gotten all the poles and shoots that I’ve used on my farm and eaten so far. Of course, the thing I use bamboo for most often is staking (of all sorts of different types of things), but the photos are all of other uses.

This first one is a friend’s moso grove about 20 miles north of me:

resize moso grove

This next one is something I’ve done a few times with bamboo. In this case I’m using the bamboo bin to contain leaves until they rot down into the leaf mold that I use as a major part of my potting mix, especially for trees and other perennials. Bins like this seem to last well enough to serve their purpose for 4-5 years. You can see I added another layer to this bin right before the photo was taken.

Here are some tree pots I made from bamboo to grow some pawpaw seedlings in. The bottom of each pot (bamboo tube) is just below a node in which I drilled some drainage holes. If there were any other nodes I knocked them out. I like having modest size pots that don’t require too much potting mix but that can still accommodate a long tap root. I’ve started planting pawpaws like this at the start of their 3rd growing season. To plant them I smash the pots with a rock just enough to split them vertically into 3 or 4 pieces, then plant the whole pot in the ground, which seems to work especially well for pawpaws, the roots of which don’t seem to hold onto the soil as well as other trees and which also seem more susceptible to breaking. So far I’ve been very happy with the way they’ve worked.

Here are some moso shoots my family ate. The largest was over 1 lb after prepping (removing the outer parts.)

Here is a madake culm I brought home from the same friend’s place that has the moso in the first photo. I had to cut it in pieces to bring it home, but I pieced it back together for the photo. I only brought the part of the culm home that was below the first branches/leaves. There was probably another 20’ or so of culm (the part with all the leaves) that I left in the grove. Toward the upper left corner of the photo you can see the calf pen made from bamboo that I have another photo of below.

resize bambusoides and pen

Here’s a light weight movable cage I originally made for some geese and then repurposed for a pair of orphaned twin goat kids. It’s lashed together with scraps of discarded baling twine a neighbor gave me.

Here are some boiled P. aureosulcata shoots. They’re mild tasting but we like them a lot.

Here’s my own start of a P. aureosulcata grove, although I’m thinking of getting rid of this one, because I can only grow so much bamboo, and although this is one of my favorites for looks and it grows very well in my location, there are other similar sized bamboos I think could be more useful for me. P. aureosulcata shoots taste very good, but even at full size they’re on the small side for processing. If you look closely, you might be able to see the red/burgundy coloration on the new shoots to the left. The yellow with the green stripes is really pretty, and the temporary red in the spring adds even more eye appeal. If I cut down this grove I may try to pot up some of this in a really large pot just to look at.

Here’s a friend’s grove of P. vivax. I’m growing some as well (not nearly this big yet), and it’s the one I most want to grow for shoots, because they’re good size and late enough shooting that I’ll get a good part of them in May when my farmers market season starts. Most of the other Phyllostachys species shoot mostly in March or early April. P. vivax is also supposed to taste good. For scale, those are daffodils just to the left of the grove.

Here are some P. aureosulcata shoots in the different stages of processing before cooking, as best as we’ve figured out to do it so far. We cut them in half length-wise, then peel off the culm sheath parts.

Here’s a close-up of the calf pen. Instead of lashing like the goose/goat pen, I drilled holes through larger diameter poles (the uprights) and put smaller diameter poles (the horizontals) through those holes.


Super @cousinfloyd that was really cool to read/see.

@mamuang thank you for your input.

@BambooMan I’ll be on the safe side and put a 24" barrier in. Maybe that’ll give me peace of mind. And anything that escapes I’ll follow your shoe on it method. If when I install a barrier will a sand/moat as mamuang suggests and apparently cousinfloyd as well be a good idea? How about pea gravel? Wouldn’t rocks burn off the tips of the escaping rhizomes?



How to contain probably depends how close the neighbors are. Looks like the front of the strip is mowed so much nothing is going to pop and grow there. The back depends what is on other side of the woods and how thick they are.


Wow, that’s quite a bamboo collection.

I have seven varieties of Phyllostachys. Listed by their common names, I have:
Sweet Shoot

All were planted in 2012. The tallest plants are well over 20 feet. I loved the look of bamboo, and am just fascinated by them. I hope to continue to add to my collection.


I’m not really familiar with the sand moat idea, but I assume the way it would work would be to create an area where it would be easy to dig so that you could physically sever the rhizomes that were starting to grow through it once or twice per year. In other words, I assume it wouldn’t serve as any kind of barrier, only that it would make digging/slicing pretty easy.


I don’t think species will make a big difference, but generally speaking size is inversely related to quantity. In other words, the bigger the bamboo the fewer culms there would be in the same size area. And you might like your poles to be a little smaller in diameter than Yellow Groove anyway. Phyllostachys culms don’t taper a whole lot, by the way, especially not below the first branches.

In a 4’ wide bed I don’t think you’ll see any significant difference in the culms at the edge of the bed versus the middle. In a larger grove, varying a little between species, I think the culms in the middle of the grove may be slightly taller, will tend to be straighter, and will tend to start branching higher up, which are all desirable traits for poles generally. You can cut lower branches off of culms that branch lower to the ground – I’d probably want to use a fairly heavy machete-like knife – but that’s more work. Sometimes I just harvest my poles from the branchless lower portion and leave the rest in the grove.


@Bambooman let me know if you’re ever interested in anything I could trade you, especially if you saw something that interested you on my trade list.

Thanks for sharing the photos and information. I love hearing reports like yours.

I planted my first bamboo in 2013 (including the P. aureosulcata in the photo above, albeit not in the best location) and my main second wave in 2015. My first planting really only started to take off this year. I have about 10 species total. I appreciate ornamental traits, but the species and cultivars I’ve planted have really been based on their useful traits, mainly wanting to have a good variety of different size poles and pole types (like solidstem and the supposedly highly flexible P. flexuosa culms) but also definitely being interested in the shoots for eating.


Thanks so much all.



Hey, @cousinfloyd those pics gave me moso envy. It’s probably my favorite boo. I’ve got a 7 gallon division of the Kimmei cultivar on reserve for fall pickup. I have more moso plantings than anything. Five of my ten plantings have a minimum of 500 square meters to grow into. I do have the Anderson clone. I’m sure many are aware, edulis translates to edible. A giant, edible, thick-walled and stunning bamboo seems too perfect.

I’m also a huge fan of pseudosasa amabilis or tonkin cane. It has extremely thick walls with little taper, unfortunately it’s not very cold hardy. It’s what they use for higher end bamboo fishing rods. My tonkin is only 0.5inch in diameter, but there is always next year. No winter die-back for me in zone 8.

You mentioned solid stem. I had all three forms of p. heteroclada (solida, purpurata, and the original). The purpurata failed to shoot. The other two are doing great, but the size of the culms are disappointing. Mine have only hit about 7 feet after 4 shooting seasons. This is far off from the reported 30, but they are young. I think the air channel in the rhizomes are a marketing gimmick. Common sense tells me wet soil kills bamboo feeder roots regardless of the rhizome.


Do I need to cure this stuff prior to use or can I cut it directly from my patch and stick it in a pot with a tree in it? I never thought about it until now.

Cliff England sent a tree to me this Spring with a bright green and large bamboo stake I could easily tell that he grew. Since I’m a complete novice I assumed he cut it right out of a patch…



No curing unless you plan to make fishing poles or something like furniture, which I know very little about.


Can anyone suggest a clumping variety for middle Tennessee? I am thinking about a privacy screen and windbreak usage. Edibility is a plus. Making small tree strakes out of them would be nice as well but further down on the checklist.

I have looked at bamboo varieties before and there are so many different kinds it boggles the mind.



I’ve read quite a bit about bamboo (and have been growing multiple runner types for 4-1/2 years), but if there’s a clumping type of bamboo that would grow well in middle Tennessee, at least anything tall enough for even a short privacy screen, I don’t know about it. I and a lot of other people would want to grow it if there were such a thing. My very rough understanding is that the clumping types that are cold hardy enough can’t take hot humid summers (or that they might barely survive if shaded from the summer heat.) I’m pretty sure there’s no easy answer.


Bambooman, I’m actually a little down on moso lately. Moso might be a little bigger and the eating quality is, based on what I’ve read, definitely superior to madake (but inferior to vivax which is also close in size), but from what I’ve been able to observe so far (mainly from the friend’s grove where my moso photo was taken) madake grows straighter, is every bit as strong as moso size-for-size, is a little bit cold hardier than moso, and it shoots a lot later in the spring, so the new shoots are much less susceptible to late spring freezes.

Tonkin cane sounds like something I’d really like to grow if it could take another zone colder, but it sounds like it wouldn’t.


Another member asked a similar question, Eric is spot on from what I’ve read too. This was my response

"Unfortunately, none exist to my knowledge. A large diameter shoot is necessary, in my opinion, to be worthwhile. Most cold hardy clumpers have smaller shoots. Also, most clumpers don’t taste very good, save a few tropical varieties according to what I’ve read. I hear great reports on the taste of Phyllostachys vivax, but all Phyllostachys are runners. Vivax is one of the more cold hardy large bamboo. I know this is not what you want to read. For me, I’m growing Phyllostachys dulcis, as it’s common name is sweet shoot bamboo.

The Fargesia genus is the most cold hardy clumping variety, but the shoots are small in diameter. The only variety I work with is F. rufa. It is so small at the moment, it would be nearly impossible to try to harvest. If you do ever eat bamboo shoots make sure to cook them. Some varieties may contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides, which are deactivated by cooking."


I agree from what I’ve read you are spot on; however, I read something interesting about Madake (P. bambusoides). Supposedly Madake flowered a few decades ago. Many of the groves and divisions are the remnants of those flowered groves. When bamboo flowers what remains is a “weakened” version of the original plant. I don’t know how many of these seeds of the flowered Madake were germinated and eventually propagated. I have no idea if my Madake is the original or newer version. I do have 5 plantings of Madake, and you are right it is the most upright. It is my tallest bamboo at the moment. I have yet to see solid evidence of the reported 6 inch diameter 70 feet tall Madake culms.

For eating quality P. dulcis as I mentioned above is supposedly one of the best. I have 4 plantings, but it has been slower to grow than some of my other giants. I hear wonderful things about Vivax’s flavor and I have my fair share of this species too. In fact, I’ve been to Thigpentrail Bamboo a couple of times. It is by far the largest bamboo species he has. The thin walls of dulcis and vivax are what makes me wary of planting anymore.

I am very lucky to live in a climate very similar to the native climate of Moso (although my Summers can be dreadful). However, Moso is still a little annoying with it’s abnormally early shooting. I lost most of this year’s original shoots to freeze damage because of our extremely warm winter. One of my most vigorous “seedlings” suffered minimal freeze losses and sent up shoots later, perhaps some genetics were involved? As you can see from my photos I do love the beauty of bamboo. Moso has hairy leaves, which prevents insects from getting to and sucking on the leaves. While we don’t have Bamboo mites here, we do have plenty of spider mites. These mites really like Vivax. It is not obvious to most people, but it does bother me a little.