Garden enthusiasts who are aiming for an evergreen privacy hedge that grows quickly are well advised to use umbrella bamboo. The graceful Fargesia rufa also serves as a decorative eye-catcher in single or group positions and as an imposing container plant. With the shimmering, green leaves that hang elegantly, this garden bamboo shoots skyward. At the same time, the sweet grass makes no move to conquer the garden, because it forms compact clumps. Since the umbrella bamboo only blooms every 100 years, it is surrounded by the fascination of the mysterious, because nobody knows why and when the bloom appears again. However, proper cultivation is not a mystery, as the following care instructions prove.


The umbrella bamboo is characterized by various attributes that make it an interesting candidate for the ornamental garden:

  • Evergreen sweet grass with a broad, bushy habit.
  • Growth height up to 3 meters.
  • Growth width up to 2.50 meters.
  • Winter hardy to -24 ° Celsius.
  • Forming clumps without sprawling runners.
  • Tapering, slightly curved leaves.
  • Rarely blooms every 100 years.
  • Red-brown sheath, later straw yellow.

Location and soil

Fargesia rufa is one of the privileged bamboo genera that thrive in almost all lighting conditions. In direct sunlight, the umbrella bamboo rolls up its leaves without further ado to reduce evaporation if the potting soil is not moist enough.

  • Sunny to partially shaded location.
  • Loose, humus-rich, well-drained soil, also sandy-loamy.
  • A slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.8 is ideal.
  • Use special bamboo soil in pots.
  • Alternatively, you can use your own mixture of garden soil, peat, humus and clay granules.

An umbrella bamboo does not necessarily depend on a slightly acidic substrate. If all other location factors meet its requirements, it will equally thrive in neutral to alkaline soil with a pH value of 7 and greater.

The Fargesia rufa feels extremely at home in the immediate vicinity of the garden pond or stream. In its natural range in western China there is usually a high level of humidity, from which the sweetgrass draws water through its leaves. Since there is also a higher level of humidity in the immediate vicinity of a body of water in the garden, the umbrella bamboo thrives particularly lush and broadly bushy in such a location.

Watering and fertilizing

As an evergreen plant, the garden bamboo evaporates moisture all year round, especially through the densely arranged leaves. The constant supply of water is therefore one of the main pillars of care. Since an umbrella bamboo reveals itself to be a heavy consumer, the supply of nutrients must not be neglected so that the sweet grass has the necessary power reserves to reach the final height of approx. 200 cm to 300 cm cm.

  • Create constant soil moisture all year round without causing waterlogging.
  • Water daily in a sunny location during summer drought.
  • There is a higher need for irrigation water in the bucket than in the bed.
  • Apply compound fertilizer every 4 weeks from the beginning of March until summer.
  • Do not fertilize from June / July, so that the stalks can go into winter when they are fully mature.
  • In a bucket culture, the garden bamboo receives a dose of liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.

If the hobby gardener has access to nitrogen-rich horse manure or other stable manure, this is an inexpensive alternative to standard bamboo fertilizer.

Tip : The fallen leaves of the umbrella bamboo remain on the ground, because they serve as mulch and release vital silica as they rot.

To cut

Since the umbrella bamboo renews its leaves every spring, a clearing cut is not necessary in principle. In view of the annual growth of up to 50 cm, the hobby gardener is very pleased with the considerable cut tolerance in order to regulate the height growth.

  • Shorten to the desired height in early spring before the new shoots.
  • Cut off dead shoots and those with frost damage close to the ground.

The knowledgeable hobby gardener promotes the bushy habit by cutting the tips of the new stalks. In this way, the umbrella bamboo is encouraged to branch better, which should be particularly desirable in opaque hedges. The garden bamboo is not suitable for the pruning of the front plants of a group, which is so popular with other types of bamboo, because it does not form the otherwise usual thick stalks. It would just appear ‘plucked’. In contrast, the Fargesia rufa scores with filigree shoots and leaves that can be easily cut into shape with simple secateurs.

Note : If a shoot of the garden bamboo is trimmed to just above the ground, it is very questionable whether it will sprout again from it. Such a cut should therefore be carefully considered.


One of the many attributes of Fargesia rufa is its perfect winter hardiness down to -24 ° Celsius. The more sheltered the location from the wind, the more resistant the plant is. Only the intense winter sun can make the evergreen umbrella bamboo difficult to cope with, so it is advisable to take precautions against burns in a sunny location.

  • Wrap the garden bamboo in the bed with reed mats or garden fleece.
  • Water regularly on frost-free days because evaporation continues.
  • In bucket culture, moving to winter quarters at 1 ° to 10 ° Celsius is recommended.
  • Alternatively, wrap the planter with bubble wrap so that the root ball does not freeze to death.
  • Placed in the shelter of the south wall of the house, winter can do little to harm the plant.

If the umbrella bamboo was only planted in October, it is advisable to protect the root ball with a thick layer of leaves and to water it regularly throughout the winter when it is not freezing. Under no circumstances should an attempt be made to thaw the soil with hot water. Due to the extreme temperature differences that then act on the roots, there is a high risk that the entire plant will die.


A fascinating phenomenon is the rare bloom with a frequency of 100 years. When the time comes again, all Fargesia rufa bloom at the same time, forming fruits and seeds. The plants invest all of their energy in this process, so that they then die off. In regions of the world that exist economically from bamboo, flowering is a catastrophe because the entire population is lost as a result. Since the flowering occurs so rarely, it has been little researched. So far it is not known when it will appear again and what circumstances encourage it to do so. In view of these conditions, propagation by sowing is extremely delicate. It usually takes a number of years for germination to begin, with the rate of loss regularly exceeding 50%.


  • Dig up the umbrella bamboo in February or March.
  • Divide the root ball with the spade.
  • Each section represents an independent plant.
  • At the new location immediately put in the ground and water well.


  • Cut off a piece of rhizome with buds on the side of the bamboo.
  • Put in a pot in bamboo soil and care for a few weeks.
  • Keep it constantly slightly moist in the partially shaded, sheltered place.
  • If the first shoots appear, the young plant is transplanted into the bed or the tub.

The lateral separation of the rhizomes also serves to control the growth in width. The umbrella bamboo grows, but over the years it takes on a growth width of up to 250 cm. Hobby gardeners who want a more compact silhouette cut off the sides with a spade and automatically receive propagation material in abundance.


Umbrella bamboo that is grown on your own or that has already been grown in advance develops into a vital and healthy plant if various central factors are taken into account when planting. A rhizome barrier or a concrete bucket can confidently be dispensed with here, because Fargesia rufa does not develop runners.

  • The best time to plant is from March to October.
  • Loosen the root ball and put it in water until it is soaked.
  • In the meantime, dig a planting hole that is 40 cm wider than the root ball.
  • Mix the excavated material with compost or manure and add a handful of horn shavings.
  • Loosen the soil and create a drainage made of gravel or pottery shards.
  • Plant the potted umbrella bamboo and thoroughly sludge it.

Theoretically, the hardy sweet grass could also be planted later than October. In this case, there is of course the risk that the umbrella bamboo will no longer establish itself at the site in time for winter and that it will suffer frost damage. The later the bamboo gets into the ground, the more extensive the winter protection.

Tip : A watering wall that slopes down towards the middle of the bamboo increases the recycling capacity of rainwater and irrigation water.

In a similar way, the hobby gardener plants the young garden bamboo in the tub. It is important to note that every planter has a volume of at least 20 liters and has an opening in the base. Above this, the drainage is spread out in order to effectively counteract waterlogging. Knowledgeable hobby gardeners put a piece of weed fleece over it that is permeable to water and air so that it does not immediately become clogged by the substrate.

Diseases and pests

Fargesia rufa are known to be seldom bothered by diseases or pests. If problems arise, these are usually due to neglect in care. Research into the causes of an infection or pest infestation is only secondarily indicated.

If the leaves fall off in the middle of the vegetation phase, the leaves turn yellow and the stalks become soft, there is a high probability that the roots are in waterlogged substrate. It is advisable to dig up the garden bamboo in order to replant it with a drain on a small mound.

The umbrella bamboo can hardly cope with long, hot periods of drought. If he rolls up the leaves, he signals that he would like to be watered. Otherwise, it will shed all the leaves.

Scale insects
If the plants in the hedge are too close together, this increases their susceptibility to scale insects or aphids. This can be remedied by an extensive clearing cut in spring. The infected parts of the plant are removed so that the grass is then repeatedly sprayed with a curd soap solution.


With Fargesia rufa, what is probably the most sun-tolerant bamboo variety is finding its way into the ornamental garden. Of particular advantage is the clump-forming growth, which makes the spread controllable and makes the use of rhizome barriers superfluous. The high water and nutrient requirements should not be underestimated. Even in winter, the umbrella bamboo evaporates water from its leaves, which is quickly replenished so that it does not dry out. The better the location factors and care are tailored to the needs of the garden bamboo, the more lush and attractive it will thrive. The umbrella bamboo dies after flowering; Since this only shows up every 100 years and last appeared in the 1990s, there should be no danger to cultivation in the home garden from this direction.

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