Clumping bamboo has been a long time favorite for landscapers, not only for its aesthetic appeal, but for its “stay-where-you-put-it” qualities as well. Unlike running bamboo, which has the habit of getting out of control, clumping bamboo grows in densely formed clumps of culms wherever you put it. Clumping bamboo is a great choice for creating a low-maintenance garden, Asian gardens, a Japanese-influenced theme, screens, hedges and much more.
Like most plants, some clumping bamboo does better in full sun, others in partial or full shade. That is why it is important to evaluate your landscaping site, before placing any bamboo plants. Most bamboo plants are full sun loving, however, some prefer partial to full shade in order to thrive. So, the first step in evaluating your site is determining what direction it faces.
Gardens that are facing the south will receive the most sunlight hours, while those facing north will receive the least. Gardens that face east or west receive full sun for part of the day. You can easily determine what way your garden faces by using your smartphone or a compass.
It is also important to evaluate your site’s overall position and landscaping features. For example, if your garden is surrounded by walls, then there is a good chance that they will partially block the site’s sunlight. Large trees, buildings and hedges are all some of the things which can affect the amount of sunlight your garden receives. In addition to sunlight, exposure also plays an important part in evaluating your landscaping site.
In a garden without hedges, walls or buildings, there is a high amount of exposure as there is nothing to break the prevailing winds. Strong winds are known for damaging plants and sucking the moisture out of their leaves. Some clumping bamboo, such as Seabreeze, is more wind tolerant than others, while others prefer a more sheltered location where the wind’s effects are tempered.
Clumping Bamboo is very adaptable and can thrive in many different soils, however, it prefers soils that are moderately acidic and loamy. The best way to ensure that your bamboo is receiving the soil nutrition that it needs is when you plant your new bamboo. Whenever you’re ready to plant your bamboo, dig a hole that is 1 ½ to 2 times as large as the bamboo’s root mass. Then work manure or compost into the bottom of the hole, this will provide nutrients as well as drainage. After placing your bamboo in the hole so that the top of the roots are even with the top soil, mix the compost or manure in with the local soil before filling in the hole. It is also recommended that you add 2 or 3 inches of compost on top of the clumping bamboo roots and around the base of the plant. Wild bamboo is a forest-lover and tends to do best whenever there is a layer of compost over the roots and rhizomes. In fact, one of the best choices is grass, for its high silica and nitrogen content.
Bamboo plants are a landscaper’s favorite, as they can easily be integrated into any garden style or theme with relatively little effort. As long as the sun, exposure and soil needs are met, bamboo will thrive under any number of adverse conditions.
photo credit: Mother and Child walking down a path via photopin (license)