Bamboo is the best plant for many looking to live a sustainable life. It grows fast with minimum care and is used to make the most eco-friendly products. Besides that, bamboo is the best plant to consider for ornamental purposes, and one place to start is by growing its dwarf variations as bamboo ground cover.
What Does Bamboo Ground Cover Mean?
A ground cover is short vegetation you can grow alone or under taller plants in a garden to maintain a beautiful landscape. You can use dwarf bamboo species as your best ground cover for tall bamboo plants or as the best hedging for your garden.
Bamboo plants are available in thousands of species. So, if looking for the best ground cover, you will need to choose between a leaf-ornamental ground cover, pole-ornamental ground cover, or bush-ornamental ground cover. Luckily, many bamboo plants do not grow taller than a few feet, and you will only need to choose the best leaf colors to complement your gardens.
If looking to bamboo for the best ground cover plant, here are some of the best species to consider.
1. Albostriata Bamboo
The Albostriata bamboo is a short, brightly striped dwarf bamboo you can use to create a leafy-ornamental bamboo cover. It is an excellent ground cover with variegated dark green leaves. The plant grows as tall as 6-feet in most soil types and hardiness zones of 7-10. In addition, it thrives well under shades but avoid exposing it to the full sun when the soil is dry.
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While this plant can create beautiful dense foliage, it is a running plant, meaning you might need to provide more care to contain it. If you need to use it to landscape an urban garden, it could be better to plant it in containers to tame the rhizomes.
2. Pleioblastus Akebono
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This dwarf bamboo species is another excellent ground cover with variegated leaves with cream and green stripes. The Pleioblastus bamboos grow as tall as 1.5 feet in hardiness zones between 7-9. In addition, you can plant the bamboo on any soil and in shady areas.
The Pleioblastus Akebono bamboo is your best option when looking for a leaf ornamental ground cover as the leaves will appear creamy white when young, then start developing beautiful green lines as the plant ages. The excellent ground cover is a slow-growing plant but will need constant watering.
3. Pygmy Bamboo
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Another from the Pleioblastus bamboos family, the pygmy bamboo is a short, evergreen bamboo species that requires little watering and shades. It is your best option for the outdoors and dry conditions. The plant will thrive in hardiness zones between 6-10 on any soil.
While the drought-tolerant plant grows as tall as 1.5 feet, it is a dense-growth runner bamboo that will easily spread to other areas. Therefore, when planting it, ensure you have the space in your garden lest it encroaches on other areas or neighbors' gardens. Finally, you can use the dwarf species for soil erosion control.
4. Indocalamus Tessellatus
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If you are looking for a bush ornamental ground cover, the Indocalamus Tessellatus bamboo is your best option. You can grow the bamboo in a flower pot or a garden for erosion control. The species is characterized by long, green leaves with a glossy finish and will thrive well under a partial shade.
The plant will grow well in well-drained soil and hardiness zones of 7-10. In addition, it grows as tall as 7 feet, making it also ideal as a garden hedge. While this evergreen bamboo plant will be excellent for your garden cover, you will need to plant it in less-windy areas as it can shed the leaves easily.
5. Dwarf Whitestripe Bamboo
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Also called the Pleioblastus fortune, this is one of the best dwarf bamboos to use for ground cover or as a hedge. The plant needs a natural habitat with well-drained soils and partial shades to thrive. You can plant it in hardiness zones of 6a-9b, and you can expect the cover to grow as tall as 3 feet.
The only challenge with this type of bamboo is that it may spread to other plants and areas in your garden. So, you can use containers to control the spread if you don't have a big garden. The plant comes with green and white striped foliage that makes a great leaf ornamental cover.
6. Ruscus-leafed Bamboo
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This bamboo plant is also called Shibataea Kumasaca and is identifiable from its dark green foliage and 5-feet height. It is a great ground cover plant that you can design for a garden. You can also plant this bamboo as a beautiful hedge to accentuate other garden features.
The Shibataea Kumasaca bamboo thrives in hardiness zones between 6-9 and acidic to neutral soils. In addition, avoid exposing the plants to direct sunlight. Finally, the plant is a runner, so you can use it to prevent soil erosion.
7. Pseudosasa Owatarii
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This native Asian bamboo is another plant you can use for ground cover. It only grows 5-feet tall in hardiness zones between 7-10. In addition, you can plant it on any soil and under partial sun. Slender green leaves characterize the bamboo species, making the plant excellent for leaf, bush, and pole ornamental ground covers.
While it can also make the best garden hedge, this bamboo also has an excellent root barrier for erosion control.
8. Sasaella Ramosa
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If you need a plant you can easily maintain at ground level; the Sasaella Ramosa bamboo is your best shot. Characterized by slender evergreen leaves, this dwarf plant is best for gardens and houseplant pots.
This bamboo plant can grow to a maximum height of 3 feet while thriving in hardiness zones between 7-9. In addition, you will not need to worry about the soil as this bamboo will thrive under any soil or sun coverage. The Sasaella Ramosa is also a great erosion control plant.
Factors to Consider Before Planting Bamboo Ground Covers
While you can grow your dwarf bamboo species to keep your garden covered in natural vegetation, you need to consider several vital factors before planting. These are:
a) Where you want to plant the bamboo
Bamboo species have different growth features, and you will need to understand the roots to decide where you want to plant your ground cover. For example, some bamboo plants are runners, meaning the roots spread quickly and far, so the ground cover can also spread to other areas you do not want to cover.
If you get a runner bamboo species and have limited space to work with, it might be better to use containers to curb the spreading roots. On the other hand, you can plant running bamboo outdoors when you have a large garden to work with.
b) Your hardiness zone
According to the USDA, your hardiness zone can tell you which plants can thrive in your location, depending on the annual winter temperatures. So, before planting any bamboo plants, it is best to understand if they can grow healthily in your area.
c) Soil type
Most dwarf bamboos will thrive in most soil types, but you will need to ensure the soil is well watered and drained to maintain good growth. First, however, understand how acidic or alkaline the soil is since most bamboo plants will require acidic to neutral soil types.
You also need to understand how tall you want your ground cover to be. For instance, if you have taller bamboo trees that have left the ground bare, you can opt for dwarf bamboos growing as tall as 5-8 feet to maintain a beautiful ground cover.
Alternatively, you can also opt for shorter bamboos growing as tall as three feet of you are planting them alone in urban landscapes.
It is also best to understand how to maintain the bamboo species you want to plant. For example, some slow-growing bamboo plants require less maintenance, while others will require frequent watering, pruning, and ending for best results.
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