Bamboo is a fast growing woody plant yet it is a grass!
It is a hardy species of the poaceae family that tolerates a wide range of weather conditions.
They can grow from 2-5 metres tall (6 - 16ft) depending upon on species.
Some of the taller varieties are often used as living screens
It is generally accepted that they are too large and invasive for the smaller garden, but some of the variegated varieties are more manageable, growing to around 1.2m (4ft) high.
Bamboos require lots of sunlight and water to perform well.
As mentioned above they are often used as screens and windbreaks but care must be given to them at planting out time to ensure that they are not subjected to high winds, at least not until they become established.
Meaning they will require some form of support until such times as they become established.
Similarly tall slender varieties should be supported with a framework of posts and horizontal wires particularly in areas exposed to strong winds.
Newly planted bamboo plants should be watered frequently, for example:at least a couple of times per week in dry hot weather.
However it must be said that over-watering newly planted bamboo plants may cause leaf drop.
Once established, bamboo plants are tolerant to either flooding or lack of irrigation.
They do not require a lot of feeding, but will respond to the occasional high nitrogen feed.
Plant out new stock in a sunny or partially shaded position sheltered from cold easterly winds in a neutral to acid moisture retentive soil.
Established plants can be cut down or divided at this time.
Tall species are best reduced in height by around half to aid establishment and reduce wind rock, but do not cut the canes back too far as this can weaken the plant.
Smaller species can be propagated by removing outer sections of the main clump and planting them into pots then placing them in a cold frame until established.
Water these divisions during dry spells.
Bamboos can also be propagated from sections of rhizome.
Cut off sections of rhizome at least 300mm (12”) in length and place in a tray / pan of gritty compost.
Keep in a warm greenhouse until planting out time.
Young plants should be kept free of weeds until they become established, after this it is not quite as important.
In colder areas it is advisable to protect the root system with a minimum 75mm (3") layer of mulching material.
This will protect the roots from penetrating frosts.
Pests and Diseases:
They are generally trouble free but can sometines be attacked by some insects and fungal diseases.
Scale insects: can be controlled with a suitable insecticide or alternatively; blasted off with a power hose, or both!
In areas of high humidity plants may be affected by fungal diseases.
Plants that are densely packed together can also be affected in this manner.
Spraying with a copper based fungicide and or thinning out the stems will help to alleviate this problem by allowing the better passage of air around the plants.