All bamboos of the genus Phyllostachys form more or less strong runners, which makes the installation of a rhizome barrier useful. This should already be introduced into the soil when planting, because subsequent installation is very complex and not unproblematic. This fascinating plant has numerous uses. So it comes into its own as a solitary plant, as a hedge plant, but also in combination with perennials. Some species are also very suitable for pot planting.
Table of Contents
Popular Phyllostachys species
Bamboos of the genus Phyllostachys are evergreen plants which, with around 76 species, belong to the grass family. Depending on the species, they can grow to a height of 3 to 10 m and a culm thickness of up to 6 cm. They grow almost twice as fast in warmer regions than in cooler ones.
This Phyllostachys impresses with a striking drawing of the culm. These are lemon yellow and form green stripes on the longitudinal grooves with age. Its shiny green leaves also have isolated white stripes. In the winter sun, the stalks turn red for a short time. In the lower area, they often grow in a zigzag shape, which is why this species is also known as zigzag bamboo. It grows upright and can reach heights of between 4 and 7 m. It is one of the hardiest bamboos and tolerates temperatures from -18 to -25 degrees. The space requirement of this type of bamboo is at least 10 m². It is suitable as a solitary plant, for topiary hedges or groves.
Phyllostachys bambusoides ‚Tanake ‘
This variety is particularly suitable for regions with mild winters and impresses with its very decorative green stalks, which are covered with dark brown to black spots of varying sizes. They reach a diameter of up to 4 cm. The variety bambusoides ‘Tanake’ is between 4 and 7 m high and grows slightly overhanging with up to 12 cm long leaves. It is relatively hardy and tolerates temperatures between -14 and -20 degrees. This Phyllostachys is particularly suitable for solitary planting. It is only conditionally suitable for keeping in a bucket.
This type of bamboo is also known as the ‘Moso’ giant bamboo and grows to between 4 and 8 m in height. Its culms are green and floured, with black shoots. They reach a diameter of up to 10 cm. It grows upright with curved tips and is hardy from -12 to -18 degrees. It is used as a solitary plant or in a small grove. It is only suitable to a limited extent for pot planting. The sprouts of this strong runner-forming variety are edible and very tasty.
The ‘bisetti’ variety is the most frost hardy of the Phyllostachys genus. It is hardy to -25 degrees. The culms reach heights of between 4 and 7 m, are fresh green and gray floured when young and later olive green. They reach a diameter of 2.5 cm and are densely leafy with glossy dark green leaves. This bamboo protects itself from excessive cold, heat and drought by rolling up its leaves. This pruning-tolerant variety is used as a solitary plant, wind, privacy and topiary hedge and as a container plant.
Phyllostachys nigra f. Punctata
This rather grove-forming bamboo is considered particularly impressive. Their stalks are green at first, then they get dark spots and from the second, sometimes even the first year, the stalks are pitch black with a diameter of up to 4 cm. These black culms provide a beautiful contrast to the green leaves. This bamboo grows between 3 and 4 m high and is hardy from -16 to -22 degrees. It is suitable as a solitary, hedge and container plant and tolerates pruning well.
Phyllostachys bambusoides ‚Holochrysa‘
This bamboo is probably one of the most beautiful yellow bamboo species. The 4-9 m tall bamboo grows upright and slightly overhanging with a stem diameter of up to 5 cm. The golden yellow, floured culms are covered with shiny green leaves. The winter hardiness of this variety is between -14 and a maximum of -20 degrees. In regions with mild winters, it is suitable as a solitary plant and, to a limited extent, as a container plant.
Plant Phyllostachys species
Bamboo can be planted all year round in frost-free weather. However, when planting after October, appropriate winter protection should be considered. Equally important is the increased water requirement when planting in summer.
For a new planting you should first look for a suitable location for the respective species. To protect against waterlogging, to which bamboo is particularly sensitive, it is advisable to place an appropriate drainage layer of gravel or lava grit in the planting hole before planting. An alternative to this is planting on a small hill.
Now, depending on the Phyllostachys species, you dig a planting hole of appropriate size. This should be at least 4 m² for medium-tall species and at least 10 m² for tall ones. In addition, it should be larger, the worse the soil condition is. The side walls and the soil in the planting hole should not be compacted if possible, so that excess water can seep away or escape on all sides.
A so-called root barrier, for example made of HDPE foil, is built into the planting hole at least 80 cm deep. For smaller species, a commercially available mortar bucket is also suitable as a root barrier, with the soil removed. When planting a hedge, this barrier must be installed over the entire length of the hedge.
At least 30-50 cm of a humus-rich soil mixture is then placed in the planting hole. Before using the plant, it makes sense to water its root ball well for about an hour. Then it is filled with excavated earth and the plant is used as well. After planting, it should be watered thoroughly. Regular watering is especially important now, so that the roots can spread well in the soil.
Site requirements and soil
- The location for bamboo is usually selected based on visual aspects.
- However, the needs of the plants should not be neglected.
- Phyllostachys species do well in sunny to partially shaded locations.
- These should also be sheltered from the wind if possible.
- These species are more or less stoloniferous.
- Accordingly, a rhizome barrier is essential.
- This should be included in the planting if possible.
- Subsequent installation is also possible but much more complex.
Bamboo generally does not make any special demands on the soil. Particularly poor soils can be upgraded with compost or sand, depending on the situation. As a rule, the soil should be permeable, nutrient-rich, sandy-loamy and humic with a slightly acidic or neutral pH.
Dry to moist soils with a crumbly structure are optimal. Particularly heavy loamy soils are unsuitable for planting bamboo. Such soils can be improved if necessary by mixing the excavated soil with special bamboo soil, commercially available potting soil, peat or compost.
Bamboo usually has an increased water requirement. For example, if it curls up its leaves, this is an indication that it should be watered. The Phyllostachys should be watered thoroughly after planting.
It is better to water well regularly and take a break in between than to water just a little every day. The roots should not dry out during growth. In locations with a high groundwater level, the plant can provide itself with sufficient water. However, waterlogging should not occur.
Since the bamboo also evaporates a relatively large amount of water from its large leaf mass, additional irrigation is required, especially during prolonged dry periods. Irrigation is also essential in winter, because even then the water evaporates. Bamboo that dies in winter is usually not frozen, but dried up.
Fertilization can be done in early spring or autumn. Plenty of compost, half-rotted cow or horse manure or commercial NPK fertilizer, a complex fertilizer, for example a long-term nitrogen fertilizer for lawns, are suitable for this.
A supply of silicon is particularly important for bamboo when it is young. It can be added in organic form, for example by incorporating bentonite or horsetail broth. The leaves of the bamboo are also particularly rich in silicon. As a result, fallen leaves should be left under the plant.
- Phyllostachys does not necessarily have to be blended.
- However, it makes sense to cut out old, unsightly and thin stalks.
- This maintains the typical appearance and promotes the growth of new stalks.
- It also serves to maintain the balance between the root area and the above-ground part of the plants.
- A shape cut in the spring is also possible.
- The stalks are cut off above a knot at the desired height.
- The branches can also be cut back.
- The best time for pruning is February/March.
Bamboos of the genus Phyllostachys are among the hardiest species. Despite everything, especially young plants are not sufficiently hardy in the first two years. It becomes problematic during longer periods of frost, so-called frost drought can occur. The plant withdraws the water from the leaves, which consequently leads to a lack of water.
In addition, the winter sun causes additional water to evaporate both through the stalks and the leaves, and the plant cannot absorb any water from the frozen ground. If this situation lasts longer, the leaves usually dry up. The plants usually survive shorter phases without any problems.
A layer of straw or leaves about 20 cm thick can be used to prevent the soil from freezing. In order to provide the bamboo with sufficient water even in winter, it should always be watered abundantly at the beginning of winter and in frost-free periods. It also makes sense to reduce evaporation via the leaves as much as possible.
This can be done by wrapping or enclosing the stalks with antifreeze fleece, depending on the size of the plant in question. This fleece also serves as shade and also protects against sunburn. Foil is completely unsuitable as frost protection, because heat would build up behind the foil, which the plant would probably not survive.