Ready to begin your bamboo search? If you aren't up to wading through the stats of over 400 bamboos listed on Bambooweb.info
, here's a more manageable list of just a few wonderful bamboos that are evergreen in USDA Zones 7a-8a to get you started. Note that the sizes are common for Western Washington, but may be different depending on your location.
If you want a fast-spreading bamboo, or one with giant canes, or one with huge or variegated leaves, you will have to get a running bamboo. Here's the short list by category.
Large & Timber bamboos (over 25') for Full Sun
grows to 50', the fattest culms
of any of the bamboos we can grow in Western Washington, remaining a rich evergreen over winter. It spreads and sizes up quickly in good growing conditions, and has very tasty shoots. Huge bamboo for a creating a bamboo forest. Expect minor to severe breakage from wet snow or ice, due to the thin culm walls of this bamboo.
Phyllostachys nigra 'Henon'
grows to 40', wonderful for a bamboo forest or giant screen
. Upright culms bear a canopy of billowing, tiered foliage, remaining lush over winter. Mature culms at grove interior have a green-grey cast. Stronger than Vivax, but still expect some snow breakage.
grows to 30', with strongly tapered culms that have the "big bamboo" look. Known as Incense Bamboo for the distinct aroma of the canes (esp. in full sun, or rubbed). It has a strongly upright habit once established, and the new shoots
are very ornamental, as well as tasty. One of very few bamboos that tolerates truly soggy soil, and is the best of the "big" bamboos under snow load.
Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis' grows to 30', and features yellow culms with a green stripe. New shoots are blushed burgundy-magenta when exposed to full sun, fading over the growing season. Culm leaves also have wonderful color. Spreads quickly. Great for a tall screen or stand alone specimen.
Small Bamboos w/Bold Foliage for Shade
grows to about 15', and is know as Arrow bamboo for its straight, thin culms. Use it as a thick, wild-looking hedge, or transform it into a transparent screen
, or in containers as an accent plant
in theme gardens. The very large, (nearly a foot long) deep green leaves make it one of the best bamboos for creating coarse, tropical effects. Grows well in nearly full sun (w/ample water) to nearly full shade. Holds up well in containers in a shaded areas.
grow to about 7', and has the largest leaves
of any bamboo. Best in shade, protected from high winds. Use it for tropical effects, or to contrast with finer textured foliage plants. Also makes a unique accent plant near a water feature. Unlike most of the smaller bamboos, this one is very mite resistant.
Pleioblastus shibuyanus 'Tsuboi' grows to 7', but can be maintained much shorter by annual pruning. This highly ornamental, variegated bamboo can be used as a ground cover, shrub, low screen/hedge, or a stand alone specimen. It spreads quickly once established, but needs moisture in dry months, or foliage will desiccate. Does best in a somewhat sheltered environment.
These three bamboos are all suitable for screening, in plant compositions, or as a stand alone specimen. Each will grow in full sun to nearly full shade, but will do best with morning sun and afternoon shade. All need moist soil to reach full potential, especially in full sun.
grows to about 15' (to 20' reported, but I haven't seen it yet) is the current darling of the clumping bamboos, and made the Elizabeth Miller Great Plant Picks
list in 2008. Roughly vase-shaped with arching perimeter stems, it sustains a little leaf damage over winter in the colder micro climates of Western Washington.
grows to 12', with a very wide canopy of delicate foliage. Older culms arch dramatically, creating a fountain of foliage. Stunning! Best use of this plant is a stand alone specimen in a focal point of the landscape.
Fargesia rufa grows to about 6', with wide spreading form that makes it great for a low hedge or screen. The toughest of the Fargesia genus, it is also fast-growing and easy to propagate.