All bamboo varieties are classified under two basic types: running bamboo and clumping bamboo. Running bamboo reproduces by underground rhizomes that grow straight down and then across, where a new shoot develops. Running bamboo, which can eventually become invasive and difficult to manage, should only be planted in containers, according to the University of Florida Extension. Clumping bamboo grows from a short rhizome that remains in one place and does not become invasive.
Dwarf buddha (IBambusa vulgaris) is an interesting clumping bamboo that develops swollen nodes that resemble Buddha's belly. Dwarf buddha is a moderately sized bamboo that reaches a height of 15 feet at maturity. Canes are approximately 3 inches in diameter. Dwarf buddha won't tolerate temperatures below 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
Giant timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) is widely grown across the United States, valued not only for its extreme height--up to 55 feet--but for its ability to withstand cold temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Giant timber bamboo makes an effective windbreak or screen, with canes that can reach diameters of 5 inches at maturity. Giant timber bamboo is a clumping bamboo.
Timor black bamboo (Bambusa lako) is a showy clumping bamboo with canes that are initially brown, eventually turning black, then developing pale green stripes. Although Timor black bamboo can reach heights of 70 feet in the wild, it usually won't exceed 50 feet in the home landscape. Timor black bamboo can tolerate temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful when purchasing black bamboo, as a running black bamboo variety (which can be invasive), is also available.
Alphonse Karr (Bambusa multiplex) is a clumping bamboo with dense 1-inch diameter canes, making it an ideal bamboo for privacy screens or hedges. Hardy to chilly temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, alphonse karr begins as a soft, pink color, eventually turning gold with green strips. Alphonse karr reaches heights of 25 to 35 feet at maturity.
New umbrella (Fargesia murieliae), is a small, clumping variety, with each clump growing 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall at maturity. New umbrella is a good choice for cold, northern climates, as the plant is hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Green screen (Fargesia robusta), growing to heights of 15 to 18 feet, is a versatile bamboo that can tolerate hot summertime heat and sunlight as well as winter cold to temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. As its name suggests, green screen makes an effective privacy screen.
Kuma bamboo (Sasa veitchii) is a running bamboo that can become invasive and problematic, but at heights of only 4 feet, the bamboo works well in containers. Kuma bamboo, which prefers shade, will turn from dark green to buff during the fall and winter. Kuma bamboo can tolerate temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Photo Credit bamboo image by cyndi Claessens from Fotolia.com
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