You’re Golden with Golden Bamboo

by philinshelton on April 10, 2009

in Bamboo Plants

Phyllostachys aurea, known as Golden Bamboo, is one of the most common bamboos in Western Washington gardens, garden centers and specialty bamboo nurseries. Here are five compelling reasons why this bamboo should find a place in your garden. You can click on the pics to view a larger image.


In warmer regions, this bamboo can be an aggressive weed, however, in the cool climate of Western Washington, Golden Bamboo has a slow to moderate spread. Throw a couple of environmental challenges at it, (i.e., afternoon shade, low nutrients, dry soils, cold microclimate) and it will remain in a well-behaved clump indefinitely. If you desire it to spread, full sun and moist fertile soils will speed it up.  You can learn about factors that affect how bamboo spreads in my article Running vs. Clumping Bamboo.

Bullet Proof

Golden Bamboo is a very tough bamboo.  Although it's not the most cold hardy of bamboos, it's evergreen just about anywhere west of the Cascades in USDA Zone 7b or higher.  Once established it is quiet drought tolerant, and maintains a respectable appearance even in poor, rocky soils.  This bamboo does well in full sun and shade, both.
Golden Bamboo as a solid screen

Golden Bamboo as a solid screen


Golden Bamboo has an upright, vase-shape or columnar form, with an average landscape height of 15'-20'.  As a single plant, it makes a suitable landscape specimen, accent plant in a theme garden or near a water feature.  Its dense culm spacing and top-to-bottom foliage make it ideal for creating a hedge or impenetrable screen (pic above).  Its adaptability makes it one of the very best for growing in narrow spaces (pic below).  If that's not enough, the shoots are edible, and the poles are good for crafts, screens and furniture. About 10 percent of the canes have shortened internodes on one side, creating a wonderful, "tortoise shell" effect.
Golden Bamboo after a decade in a tight space

Golden Bamboo after a decade in a tight space

Best Container Bamboo

In response to the hardships of container life, Golden Bamboo "slows down", but still manages to look presentable for longer than any other bamboo I have grown.  With a little care, (i.e. water and fertilizer) I have seen this bamboo survive for years in large containers (pic below)
Phyllostachys aurea in containers

Phyllostachys aurea in containers

It's Prunable

I've always thought formal pruning destroyed the natural beauty of bamboo, but hey, if you are going to shear your bamboo hedge into a rectangle or other formal shape, this is the bamboo for you.  Dense culm spacing and thick foliage are perfect for shaping as evidenced by the images above. When I first started collecting bamboo, I shunned this bamboo over more rare and exotic varieties.  Now, I value it for it's beauty and utility, and recommend it to all my customers who want a bamboo for containers.  For some other bamboo recommendations, check out my Bamboo Short, Short List and my Bamboo Links page to find nurseries in WA and OR that sell bamboo.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

EDITH OLAH September 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I live near Phoenix and we have a lot of in a Patio home and therefore very narrow yard. However I wanted to block my wall and above that view of the neighbors….and just brought home some Golden Bamboo to plant in pots where 3 Palm trees were cut down.
How much water do I give it and how often?
Thank you for your help.
Edith Olah

EDITH OLAH September 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Great article-but need help with plant in pot….how much water do I give it?

philinshelton October 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

During summers here in Western Washington, I water established container plants daily. In your region, it’s a safe bet that you will need to water at least that often to keep your plants happy. In a nutshell, keep the soil moist constantly!

Portia December 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I live in Raleigh, NC and I am wanting to transport Golden Bamboo from yard to wooden planter box [11x47x14] to use as a deck screen. Uncertain if I should put drainage holes in planter or not because I am planning to use upside down small black plastic nursery planters on the bottom over rocks to assist with drainage and this provides a large gap between bottom of planter and soil. Please advise. Also want great green look of leaves without rapid growth – 3 years max in this planter for our purposes.

philinshelton December 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I would recommend putting holes in any planter to keep the growing medium from getting saturated for prolonged intervals. The use of black plastic containers and rock at the bottom of the planter will not really assist in drainage. You are better off, drainage-wise, to fill the whole container with and quality planting mix, one that will hold moisture and nutrients, yet provide adequate drainage. There are lots of commercial mixes, or you can make your own with some research. Here’s a link explaining the drainage phenomena:

Karen February 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

Hi there. Thank you for your article. We planted several Golden Bamboo plants in some containers this last spring around our deck in order to create a privacy screen. We live in Southern Oregon and this past winter gave us a terrible cold snap we don’t normally get. Temperatures for several days were down to about 7 degrees. It appears our plants have perished. Not sure if they are completely dead or not, but they definitely don’t look good. (Dried, brown leaves and stems). Is there something we can do to try to try to bring them back to life currently? Not sure if completely cutting them back would be a good idea or would secure their fate. Thank you very much for any advice. We spent good money on these plants and the last thing I want to do is invest another couple bucks to replace them. Thanks again!

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