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Bamboo Confusion

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Question from Kathryn Layard


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Reading through another post I don't think I am the only one confused about Bamboo in pots. I moved to a house with a small garden this year and bought Hibanobambusa tranquillans 'Shiroshima' + Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis + Nigra thinking they could all live in containers and not realising that this is suggested only for a short while and even then they need potting to bigger and bigger pots and their roots axed through to keep the culm small. I am thinking therefore of selling on the above and buying some Fargesia bamboos and planting them straight in the border. The border is west facing not very wide about 2 foot and fenced can anyone suggest which Fargesias to go for given that I only want 2 in this border and they will be the only interest in my garden appart from the container grown acers and a few pots of colourful perennials. I would like Fargesias that are as upright as possible as space is limited thanks.

Bamboo Confusion (24/09/2010)Bamboo Confusion (24/09/2010)

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  • Replies: 10
  • Posted: Fri. 24th September 2010 09:57

Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Seasons Gardening


in general the Fargesia muralae are very good for upright interest, Jumbo goes quite tall (4m) Bimbo is a lot smaller 1-2m and Simba in between. A good website for info on varieties is http://www.junglegiants.co.uk/acatalog/Fargesia.html and you can order from them as well.
Good luck with your bamboo search!

Re: Bamboo Confusion (24/09/2010)

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  • Posted: Fri. 24th September 2010 12:48

Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Blooming Brilliant

Hi! Fargesia mur. 'Bimbo' is a good one to try, as it will only go about a metre high & wide. If you'd like something a bit larger, try 'Simba,' that will grow up to around 2 metres. They won't be quite so much work as your containerized ones, but do make sure they stay moist enough, as the border sounds as if it could dry out quickly, being so small & up against a fence.

  • Posted: Sat. 25th September 2010 08:46

Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Jude, Kent

The Fargesias would be well behaved in pots too. As well as F.murielae, other Fargesias would look good, either in the ground or in pots. Some of the F.nitida varieties are gorgeous (eg 'Asian Wonder'). And Fargesias have much more manageable roots if you do need to chop them. Another good nursey is PW Plants in Norfolk, www.hardybamboo.com. Go for it!

  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 00:07

Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Kathryn Layard

Thanks for your help everyone . I think I will plant my Fargesia Rufa in the far corner by the hedge (I have one currently in a pot that I could use) . I have a Fargesia Murielae also in a pot but reading through the blurb online they can grow up to
4 meters and I think that is going to be too tall for my border. As for the bamboo for the other end of the garden closest to the house I have decided to put a bamboo in a pot there as I realised the whole garden (which is a bit on a slant) and patio after rain, drains into that border and I can’t imagine anything will like that much.

I have looked at Simba but it looks a bit floppy, I prefer the upright ones but if I planted something like Robusta I am wondering what it would do in a pot, would it still reach 4 meters, and will my Murielae also grow 4 meters in a pot? I really like Asian Wonder and I did read that it doesn’t mind a bit of sun and rarely grows over 3 meters in a pot.

I am wondering Jude if you could say more about Fargesias in pots and how much hard work it is to divide the roots. I did read online that even Fargesias should only be left in pots for 6 years, is that correct? I do have to consider with the whole repotting and sawing through roots that I am heading towards 60 and arthritic and my husband is over 60 and finds gardening difficult, I dig all the holes in our clay soil otherwise he easily can put his hip out! Great pair. So how hard is it to pot these bamboos on? I wondered if I could pot them on for a few years, then buy some smaller ones a few years on, then when the old ones are getting very big sell them on and bring on the smaller ones etc.. But I am totally ignorant when it comes to bamboo, perhaps I wouldn’t even need to buy smaller ones perhaps the chopped bits from the larger ones as I pot them on could be brought on could they? Thanks in advance for help.

I have put my Hibanobambusa and Phyllostachys on ebay so fingers crossed they find a good home

  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 10:18

Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Jude, Kent

Hi Kathryn

Fargesias are one of the best in pots and they don't reach anything like maximum height. F. rufa is a favourite of mine. I think it should be less than 3 metres potted. The genus has much thinner and more fibrous roots than the Phyllostachis (which is quite a thug) and is much easier to divide. I'm past 60 and a bit arthritic and I can manage them quite easily. Yes, I know the books say they don't last in pots but my plants can't read. My oldest is about ten and still happy. If you need to split, the pieces can be repotted so you don't need to buy another. The toughest of their roots can be cut with loppers if you have trouble with secateurs and arthritis.
Incidentally, I have the Hibanobambusa in a pot and it's fine. When it gets too big, I'll split it and replant. It's just like splitting a herbaceous perennial.
Any old canes can be cut off and used in the garden. They don't last as long as the prepared ones you buy but they'll last at least 2 years and they're free! You can thin out canes from pots if they get dense, which makes them more graceful. Judging by your photos, they'll look lovely there.
There are quite a few plants that would like your boggy bit. To go with bamboos, I suggest sedges such as Carex morrowii 'Fisher's Form' , a variegated one, or the blue Carex glauca. Just watch out that you don't get one of the sedges that like it drier. Most of them will be happy in a bog.

Hope this helps.

  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 14:03

Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Kathryn Layard

Thanks for all the wonderful info and advice and how nice that you really do know what gardening in our later years is like. I am sure my Fargesia’s are like yours and can’t read, problem is in a very small garden I can only accommodate a few bamboo and I do think I chose wisely earlier this year. Buy in haste repent at leisure….

How long have you had your Hibanobambusa and what size pot is it in? I will attach if I can a picture of my baby Hib, I love it so perhaps I will keep it for a while and decide later what to do. Thanks for the advice too about sedges, I already have some blue carex which I love must look into buying a few more.

Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion (29/09/2010)Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion (29/09/2010)

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  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 14:59

Re: Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Jude, Kent

I've had it about 5 years and it's in a hexagonal 38cm pot. At the moment it's fine but it may need splitting in a couple of years. They are beautiful, aren't they? Splitting is easier with 2 people. I've just helped a friend split a Pseudosasa japonica (easily as thuggish as Phyllostachis) and he worked up quite a sweat sawing through the rootball. By the way, if you ever use a saw on a bamboo, use an old one unless you're sure there are no stones in the compost.
I find it very frustrating when I can't do things I used to, like lifting bags of compost without a trolley, but that doesn't stop me spending all day in the garden. I keep forgetting what I can no longer do! Sometimes I can hardly move by evening, especially if I've sat down for a while, but I usually find I'm ok with a bit of a warm-up. I find yoga helps too - it's the stretching. But then I'm not very arthritic, just my hips and one finger, though my back gives me grief sometimes - like all gardeners!
Your Hib looks beautiful. It would be a shame to lose it. If you can't pot it on, you could try cutting a slice off the bottom of the rootball and trimming round the edges then putting back in the original pot with some fresh compost. If you reduce the roots, it would be beneficial to remove some canes.
Most bamboos, when you split them, produce thin canes first. If this happens, leave them for a season to photosynthesise, then you can remove them to improve the appearance. The next season's canes should be thicker.

  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 19:56

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Kathryn Layard

Hi and thanks again for all the info. I will try to make this my last posting to you, meant to ask this on the last posting but forgot. Do you wrap your pots in bubble wrap or anything in the winter or do you only have to do that too if you have Fargesias that can read?

I read it was important to keep the pots frost free because if the roots freeze the leaves can dry out really quickly in strong or freezing winds. It also said to water through the winter, what do you do? Beyond this do you feed through the summer and assume keep watering? Whilst I have had a lovely garden at my old home for 30 years I have never grown bamboo or worked with clay, gardened on sand at the last house so VERY different.

I know the hardly can move in the evening syndrome. We have, as my post said, only recently moved to the village and our garden is small, just around the corner are some lovely allotments, I would love one but I know it makes no sense. Almost caved in a few weeks ago only to do my hip hoovering, but I walk round the allotments every day and dream of being even 10 years younger and fitter. Thanks again for all your help. Must start a thread on sweetpeas and October sewing next !

  • Posted: Wed. 29th September 2010 22:39

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Jude, Kent

Hi and no problem, post as often as you like but my computer is going into hospital today so I'll be offline for a few days. Not sure how I'll manage the withdrawal symptoms but it'll probably do me good.
All my bamboos came through last winter without protection and all but one was outside. (I have a slightly delicate Chusquea culeou which I kept in an unheated greenhouse..) We're lucky to have illiterate plants. I feed very occasionally and water regularly in summer. It's true the leaves dry out if the roots freeze but they generally recover. If they look tatty in spring, just go over them and remove grotty leaves and they'll sprout new ones. They're grasses, after all, and look how lawns recover from drought.
If you can't manage a whole allotment, have you considered sharing one with neighbours? A whole plot can be quite daunting but lots of people can grow enough on half a plot or even less. Or other plot holders might be happy to borrow a piece of yours. I've taken over my neighbour's veg patch and a bit of another neighbour's garden - I usually expand to fill rather more than the space available. Same in the house - luckily I live alone!
Best of luck and feel free to post me if you need to. I can talk about plants till the cows come home and then some.

  • Posted: Thu. 30th September 2010 11:14

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bamboo Confusion

Reply from Kathryn Layard

SOWING SOWING SOWING - spelling was never my strong point but even I can see this mistake.

Thanks again Jude and Hib says thanks too because I have taken it off ebay after your advice yesterday .

Hope you get by without the PC. I HATE mine and LOVE it...

I have a theory that when we get to the other side St Peter will send us all back down immediately to live the 15 years that we wasted sitting waiting for a webpage to load or an e-mail to send or or .....

But they are fantastic for finding out about how to look after bamboo and what people think about using toilet rolls for planting sweetpeas !

I think I might bubble wrap my pots if it gets very cold I haven't got that many and I hate to think of my bamboos gasping!

I have thought about sharing an allotment but currently doing a degree ( I know I know I am a late starter) and I know even if I could do it physically TIME is at a premium. Who knows in 2 years perhaps I could find someone fit to share the plot with me, they can do the heavy digging I can do the hoeing and watering....I did think about paying for an allotment now (£23 a year) so I could perhaps share with someone later, will have to give this some more thought.

Not having used Shoot before if this thread ends how do I post you regarding Bamboo Q’s ?

  • Posted: Thu. 30th September 2010 12:53