The tall, greeny and leafy bamboo plants are easy to fall in love with. The tall, thick canes are elegant and provide your backyard with a natural privacy screen. However, the invasive nature of some bamboo species is a dread to gardeners and their neighbors. So, is there a non-invasive bamboo species? Stick around and we'll tell you how to grow and take care of your bamboo privacy fence and keep your neighbors too.
What is A Bamboo?
Often mistaken for a tree, bamboo is the fastest-growing type of grass in the world. It is also the most abundant member of the grass family, with over 1500 species growing naturally worldwide. In addition, some non-invasive bamboo plants grow to tower heights, while others remain dwarfs throughout their lives.
With a growth rate of up to 4 feet tall a day, bamboos are good entry-level plants for both indoor and outdoor environments. They are low maintenance and can thrive without needing a lot of water, pesticides and fertilizer. In addition, the colorful bamboo stalks are perfect for adding color to any landscape.
Why Should You Grow Bamboo Plants?
With over 12,000 species, bamboo plants can be found in various patterns and stalk colors, such as dark green, light green, black and golden. For example, these different varieties, Bambusa multiplex, have varying growth rates, with some spring up to 10 feet tall per year. Depending on your purpose for planting, bamboos grow faster than any other plants and tree in the world.
2. Privacy Fence
Privacy is a very important part of anyone's livelihood, and more so home and backyard. No one wants to get random stares from weird or friendly neighbors due to a lack of privacy. If this is you, you might want to consider getting a non-invasive bamboo privacy screen rather than putting up a concrete wall.
When planted in rows, bamboos grow to create an elegant hedge at minimal costs. Since they also have a fast growth rate, you will be enjoying your new fence in a couple of months. In addition, keeping your bamboo privacy fence at your desired height is quite easy.
Bamboos have a good reputation when it comes to their eco-friendly nature. If your home is built on a hill or slope, planting bamboo will help you manage soil erosion. In addition, the green swaying leaves and culms are responsible for cooling your garden and purifying the air. Due to their fast regenerative nature, bamboos are an eco-friendly source for furniture, wood, homes, and paper.
Non-invasive bamboo plants grow in amazing patterns, such as umbrella bamboo and colors that add charm to your garden. They are attractive and have a pretty environmentally friendly way of adding a touch of beauty to your space. In addition, you still get to enjoy the other benefits of having bamboos around.
Unlike other plants that grow strictly indoors or outdoors, bamboos are versatile and thrive well in both conditions. If you have a small space, you can plant bamboo in pots as part of your indoor decor. Patios and porches are also a good location to put your container plant.
What Are the Main Types of Bamboos?
Bamboos are mainly referred to by their two types, running and clumping. Differentiating between these two types determines whether you will end up with an invasive or non-invasive bamboo type in your garden. Let us look at the types below.
1. Running Bamboo
Scientifically referred to as Monopodial or Leptomorph, running bamboos have thin horizontally extending rhizomes that go up to 2" to 18" deep. Running bamboos spread out fast over a large area owing to their invasive species.
While they can be a nightmare for a gardener, running bamboo can be controlled to avoid invading unwanted regions. Such control measures include using metal, cement, or polyethylene plastic rhizome barriers as containment methods. However, this is hard to do, especially if the running bamboo has breached the root barrier.
If you have a large yard that needs a fast-growing privacy screen, running bamboo is a great option. In addition, it grows well in temperate climates to give dense vegetation. However, if an invasive plant is not your cup of tea, the best way to control it is by planting non-invasive clumping bamboos.
Other ways of controlling running bamboo include:
- You can control running bamboo by planting it in a long container and keeping it outside. This will act as a privacy fence and prevent it from spreading. Another alternative is to plant bamboo in multiple containers placed side by side.
- If you have planted your bamboo in the round, you can mow around the edges of that location to ensure that new shoots do not spread. Mowing will not affect the plant or the mower.
- Digging a 10 to 12 inches deep trench is another great way to keep an eye on new shoots. This allows you to see the roots attempting to spread whenever they poke via the sides of the trench. Once you see any, you can use loopers, a shovel, or hand pruners to cut it.
- You can also plant bamboo in a raised plant bed surrounded by cement or walls. This is a common method that helps prevent the roots from spreading.
2. Clumping Bamboo
Clumping bamboos are non-invasive since they have a Sympodial or Pachymorph rhizome system. This means that instead of growing deep like runners, they have thick short roots that grow in a clump. In addition, non-invasive clumping bamboos produce culms that grow upwards and are close to their mothers. This is the main reason why they grow taller at a fast rate.
Growing non-invasive bamboo or clumping bamboo outside of zone 8-10 can be difficult since they are cold-hardy. Unfortunately, cold hardy bamboo means that the bamboo's ability to withstand cold temperatures is low.
Advantages of growing non-invasive clumping bamboos include:
- Fast-growing grass type
- You can grow them in confined spaces
- Do not break away from pots or containers
- They have a superficial root system that is non-invasive
- You can grow them in raised beds or gutters
- They offer wind protection and act as sound barriers
What Are the Common Techniques for Planting Non-Invasive Bamboo?
This planting technique is important if you have bamboo platforms on smooth grounds. The first thing you want to do is dig a channel from the center of your chosen bamboo plant. Next, covering the soil in the trench's base, add compost and completely stir the manure. Finally, slice a bamboo chunk at the base and back facing the trench.
You will now need to put the leaves and the twigs of the original node in the head part of the culm. As for the other internodes, put buds on every node and two to three internodes with the central branch. In addition, you can split the remaining buds throughout the culm.
The next step is to force the bamboo parent into the trench gently. Use 2 inches of soil to coat it while firmly squeezing the covered soil. The only exposed parts should be the branches of the end node and the leaves. Lastly, use a straw mulch to spread it and then ensure to water it.
Layering enables the nodes to grow shoots and roots within a span of 100 days. In addition, every internode grows into a self-supporting plant. To carry out another layering project, dig out the plantings and prepare them for planting new bamboos. You can also transfer them to a local nursery for breeding.
2. Culm Planting
This technique is easy and has many benefits to offer, such as a high maturity rate and survival. This method also allows the entire culm to be used, rather than a variety of the culm, its end, or both. However, using the culm with the stump is recommended as it allows the germination of more node shoots.
Culm planting with an end or stump eliminates shoots on the culm not growing in the culm planting. In addition, since you are not entirely skipping the internodes of the stump and culm, you can carry the stump for sowing all through to its first maturity days.
3. Planting Nodes
This non-invasive clumping bamboo technique involves fastening one or two node culms together. To do this, you need to slice the culm's tip and saw it into one node or two-node pieces. When planting, slant the one node piece or put it in an erect position. On the other hand, position the two-node piece along a horizontal axis.
As a tip, when sowing a one node piece, leaving about 4 inches at the top and 10 inches at the bottom. In addition, if the two-node appears smaller than the one node, you can saw them horizontally. However, ensure not to damage the culm in the process. Once you have done this, you can plant the one node calm in a horizontal position, ensuring that the nodal shoots are facing upwards.
4. Planting Stump
When you want to plant a new generation of non-invasive bamboo, it is best to do that with a healthy stump. Ensure to protect the roots when digging as this could otherwise cause damage. Once you have your stump, you can divide it into two halves to reproduce them. Each half produces roots then shoots.
Next, make a trench and plant the stump either vertically or horizontally. You can use 1 inch of soil to wrap it and push the soil tightly to give it a firm hold. Finally, use hay to provide cover and finish off with watering. In 30-50 days, the stump will have produced shoots and the roots will have begun spreading. After this, you can harvest and transplant it in the next season.
5. Branch Cuttings
This process involves the main and the sub-branch to use for reproduction. This is because these parts price adventitious roots that later germinate and cause roots to spread. In addition, this technique has a guaranteed survival rate and does not cause harm to the parent bamboo.
To go about the process, you first need to choose the branches that appear to be solid and strong. You also want to ensure that the branches have small internodes and plump buds on the first three nodes. In addition, branch support with sprouting root detail is key.
Branch cuttings take 3 months to grow into young plants. Therefore, they can be transplanted about 4 -5 months later, preferably from March to April.
Non-Invasive Bamboo Plant Care
Knowing how to care for your bamboos is key in ensuring that you have healthy plants. Below, we explain how to take care of your outdoor and indoor bamboos.
1. Outdoor Bamboo Plants
When caring for your outdoor bamboo, you want to begin this process from the planting stage. The first step is to plant bamboo in an area that receives sunlight. This can be full or partial. This is mainly because clumping bamboos tend to grow and thrive in varying lighting conditions. However, if you want them to grow fastest, the sun should be your best friend.
It is also important to know that conditions such as harsh summer heat could be harmful to your non-invasive bamboo. For this reason, you may need to offer protection to the plant. In terms of soil, clumping varieties adapt to the natural soil they are planted in. So, whether heavy clay or sandy, your clumping bamboo will love it as long as it drains the water well.
Water is essential to every plant life, and clumping bamboo varieties are no exception. You need to ensure that you give an inch of water to your clumping bamboo weekly. This could either be by hand or rainfall. In addition, it is important to add at least a 3-inch mulch layer around the bamboo. This is important in retaining nutrients and moisture within the clumping bamboo. Yearly, especially during early spring, you can add a balanced organic fertilizer to the mature plants.
2. Potted Bamboo Plants
First thing first, ensure that your indoor clumping bamboo container has drainage holes. This is important as it ensures that extra water is not retained in the soil. Then, when watering your plant, do so until liquid(water) drains from the bottom of the pot. In addition, keep in mind that potted plants need more water than those planted directly in the ground.
You can choose to bring your potted plant indoors to protect it from harsh conditions during cold weather. Alternatively, you can use a mulch to insulate the pots or use insulating material such as burlap to wrap the container.