Bamboos – a touch of the exotic

Few plants create such an exotic atmosphere in gardens or balconies as bamboos. There are numerous genera and species that all belong the Poaceae family. Bambusa, Thamnocalamus and Fergesia have short rhizomes and grow into dense bushes while Phyllostachys forms runners. The plants all have the same structure: they have an underground rhizome, stems and leaves. The stems are mostly green but they can also be yellow, brown or black, and single-coloured, flecked or patterned. Depending on the species they grow upright or arching. The young decorative stems stand out beautifully if the older stems are cut away regularly. The panicles of flowers are very similar to those of grasses. An interesting feature of bamboos is that they flower at very long intervals, sometimes only after 100 years. Because the formation of flowers uses up such a lot of the plant’s energy, most of them die afterwards. The only thing you can do if this happens is to buy a new plant.

Most species prefer partial to full shade where they are also protected from the wind. Only Phyllostachys will thrive in the sun. All species need regular watering. Water-logging leads to root rot but lack of water will cause the leaves to curl up. Bamboos benefit from weekly applications of fertilizer between spring and late summer.

The plants are best divided when new shoots appear, or you can cut and plant a piece of rhizome with at least one stem. Most species can be left outside during winter if the container is sufficiently protected. It is probably safer for bamboos to over-winter in a frost-free but very bright place.

06. May 2014 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit Trees | Comments Off on Bamboos – a touch of the exotic

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