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Whats the Difference Between Clumping and Running Bamboo

A Clumping Bamboo is a diverse group of grasses (Yes, that's right bamboo plants are giant, woody grasses.) that range from 6 inches to over 100 feet tall.  There are over 1,300 different cultivars (short for cultivated varieties) of bamboo, but only 2 major classes.Clumping and Running.


Clumping Bamboo

The bamboo that behaves, Clumping bamboo (commonly referred to as tropical bamboo), represents a group of bamboo that has a predictable growth pattern eventually growing into a compact clump similar to a multi trunk palm (very similar growth pattern to Areca palms).

This group of bamboo grow to a very predictable clump size and overall height and are extremely valuable as a fast growing natural privacy screening. A single clump grows to full size in 3-5 years and makes an outstanding focal point both in the landscape or in a planter. Clumping bamboo is as versatile as it is beautiful.

Unfortunately clumping bamboo tends to be less cold hardy than running bamboo. Although there are a few varieties of Clumping bamboo like Fargesia rufa that are hardy down to 0F and colder, most clumping varieties are tropical in nature and prefer warmer temperatures. We have a good selection of clumping bamboo for climates that don’t dip below -12F on their coldest winter nights.


Running Bamboo

Running Bamboo is the notorious bamboo that people warn you about. Running bamboo looks great in the pot at the nursery, but it gets its name from sending underground shoots that run parallel under the ground and emerge everywhere, causing an entire area to be taken over and formed into a bamboo grove. While this could be useful for situations like erosion control or for commercial timber or biomass production, for landscapes purposes running bamboo has limited applications.

Running bamboo must be contained with a physical barrier. Most use a rhizome barrier made of thick plastic and buried around the bamboo area. Be very careful when using running bamboo anywhere other than a container as it can easily get out of control. Running bamboo usually likes a winter cold, dormant period, and does well in cold conditions. There are hundreds of varieties of running bamboo, some are ultra fast growing and aggressive and others are creeping and easy to maintain. There are specific landscape applications where running bamboo is the perfect solution, , just make sure to respect its power and have a strong containment strategy, you can’t go wrong with a large planter.



The Uses Of Bamboo

There are so many uses for bamboo, from an amazing potted plant to a fast growing privacy screen. It can be used to control erosion on river banks or as an impenetrable security hedge in both residential and commercial settings.

Landscape Bamboo. Clumping bamboo can serve so many purposes in the landscape. Because clumping bamboo is so fast growing it is a popular choice for privacy screens and as a barrier. Bamboo is often used to privatize sections of a property and to provide a beautiful, low maintenance green screen that comes in many sizes and colors.

Privacy screens. One of the most popular applications for bamboo is as a privacy screen. Because bamboo grows so quickly it is often the ideal choice when a large screen is needed.  From small 7’-12’ screens of Fernleaf Stripestem Hedge Bamboo to large 50’ stately and erect clumps of Oldhamii Giant Timber bamboo there is a variety of bamboo to fit your screening application.

Although some varieties provide more privacy than others, clumping bamboo form excellent privacy screens, with very few exceptions. Just remember to choose something that properly fits the space, and remember that within 3 years your bamboo will grow into a large and fully mature clump.

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