Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’
Most temperate bamboos make horrible house plants, but this subtropical beauty makes a great container plant indoors and out. The first time I saw Alphonse Karr bamboo, it was growing in a pot in and office building near a large window. Since most bamboos (especially the temperate, cold hardy ones we grow outside here) make poor house plants at best, I was surprised to see a vigorous plant with lush, green foliage growing indoors. Once I started growing it for myself, I found that Alphonse Karr is very fast to size up, even growing indoors. Compared to the cold hardy bamboos I grow in containers, Alphonse Karr is every bit as vigorous. Not only that, but it's much hardier than I would have expected from a "tender" bamboo. Last winter, my plants spent over a month in a dark, unheated, shop, with night temperatures well below freezing, for about two months. Canes Probably the most outstanding feature of this bamboo is the bright yellow color of the canes. You will see some random green striping, and with a little sun exposure, culms will develop a magenta/red blush. Foliage The leaves are fairly large, 5"-6" and remain lush green in our unheated hoop house down to about 25 degrees F. Growing it WellAs a container plant, Alphonse Karr bamboo can be grown outdoors even in mild frost. During the coldest months of winter, you can put it in an unheated garage or cellar for bout two months, without harming the plant, amybe even longer. Or you can bring it inside to grow as a house plant. It does best in a well lit space (i.e. next to a sunny window) but will tolerate even dimly lit interior spaces. Like most container plants, it's best to let the potting mix dry down to the point where it is barely moist, then saturate (water running out of the drain holes, and then some). There are oodles of fertilizers you can use to feed with. Water soluable fertilizers are probably the easiest, but you could use a time release granule, or even a commercial potting mix that already has fertilizer in it. As always, apply fertilizer following the rates recommended by the manufacturer. If your bamboo is happy, then you will have to divide it, or transplant it into a larger container every 1-2 years. Plants maintained in a "tall #5" container can be expected to reach about 8' high, but can reach up to 15'-20' in commercial-size containers (#15-#25).