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
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 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
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
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.