Young bush of bambusa multiplex is growing in forest

Bambusa multiplex ‘Hedge Bamboo’

The culms of this unique bamboo feature random yet beautiful stripes and the leaves are fine and bushy. Plus, when planted in direct sun, the golden culms turn orange-red!

Quick facts

  • Common name: Hedge Bamboo
  • Botanical name: Bambusa multiplex
  • Type: Clumping
  • Average height: 10-30 ft (3-9 m)
  • Average diameter: 2 in (5 cm)
  • Hardiness:  14 to 23ºF (-5 to -10ºC)
  • USDA Zones: 6-9
  • Light requirements:  Partial shade to full sun
  • Best use: Hedges, privacy screen, container bamboo
USA States map with the USDA Zones 7-9 marked in green
USDA Zones 6-9

One of our favorite varieties of bamboo is Bambusa multiplex or Hedge Bamboo. It is sure to become a captivating feature of any garden in which it’s planted.

It is a clumping ‘dwarf’ variety of bamboo native to China. It’s a fast-growing bamboo with dense foliage, making it a quintessential choice for hedges or privacy screens. This elegantly striped bamboo is extremely hardy and easy to maintain, making it an excellent choice for a beginner bamboo gardener.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous, low-maintenance bamboo, Bambusa multiplex is an amazing option for you. Endowed with beautiful culms and foliage, this bamboo can be grown directly in the ground or even in containers or garden beds!

What does Bambusa multiplex look like?

We can all agree that bamboo by nature is a stunning addition to the garden, and an even better choice of plant when deciding to grow a hedge or privacy/wind screen. That said, not all bamboos look the same and there’s a wide range of varying growth habits. So what does Bambusa multiplex look like and what makes it so unique?

This stunning bamboo is popular amongst bamboo lovers largely because it boasts striped culms that turn orange-red when exposed to the sun over time.

As a ‘dwarf’ variety it’s shorter than many other types of bamboo, though when planted in good conditions it can still reach a considerable height of about 20 feet or more.

The culms are for the most part smooth, slender, and, as previously mentioned, striped. They can get up to 2 inches wide and arch slightly at the top due to the weight of the beautiful foliage. The foliage is full of lovely, olive green leaves with silver undersides.

Popular cultivars of Bambusa multiplex

Although the main features of Bambusa multiplex are shared by most of its cultivars, it should be noted that there are many cultivars of this bamboo with some unique features. The most popular cultivars include: Alphonse Karr, Golden Goddess, Silverstripe, and Fernleaf.

Of these, Golden Goddess is a true dwarf and grows up to about 10 feet tall, making it an ideal choice for container growing. Alphonse Karr and Silverstripe, on the other hand, are best known for their beautifully striped culms. Alphonse Karr’s golden-yellow culms have bright green stripes which make a beautiful addition to the garden.

As a bamboo that is better suited for container growing than many others, you can even consider growing it inside. Regardless of which features you’re looking for in your next bamboo plant, you’ll be sure to find a cultivar that you love from Bambusa multiplex.

What are the best growing conditions for Bambusa multiplex?

Bambusa multiplex is a low-maintenance bamboo that doesn’t require much attention to grow well. This bamboo species is quite drought tolerant once mature, though it’ll be happier and grow better when watered regularly and properly. The most common mistake a new bamboo gardener can make is actually overwatering bamboo, which can cause the roots to rot and the plants to die off.

In general, Bambusa multiplex is best grown in humus-rich soil and it needs adequate nutrients to keep it looking healthy. It can also be trimmed regularly to maintain shape and control its growth, especially when grown as a hedge.

Light requirements

Bambusa multiplex grows best in part-shade to full sun. Most cultivars of this bamboo are sun lovers, though they can do well in partial shade, especially in regions where the days are longer or hotter. For best results, plant Bambusa multiplex in a spot where it’ll receive at least 8 hours of sunlight per day.

Soil requirements

Although Bambusa multiplex requires little maintenance, it’s still important to plant it in humus-rich, well-draining soil that is loamy in nature. Avoid planting this bamboo in clay-like soil which will only stunt the growth of this plant instead of allowing it to thrive.

The ideal pH for Bambusa multiplex is mildly acidic, neutral, or mildly alkaline. Mulching around the bamboo once planted can help provide nutrients to your bamboo and improve draining. Bamboo does best in soils with plenty of organic materials such as compost, wood chips, and peat.

Close up view of bambusa multiplex
Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ (Photo source: Bambooweb)

How to plant Bambusa multiplex

Whether you’re planting Bambusa multiplex for hedges or privacy screens, or as your next beautiful container specimen, it’s important to plant it properly with enough space to grow. When planting directly in the ground, make sure to leave at least 5 ft (1.5m) or even 6 ft (2 m) of spacing between clumps.

If confined (whether in a container or garden bed), Bambusa multiplex will grow slower, but you still need to make sure that the plants don’t get root-bound. You can consider confining this bamboo in the ground for low maintenance in the future, or if you’re trying to achieve a particular look such as circular, tight clumps. For most purposes, however, it’s important to keep that spacing between plants to provide them with ample room to grow.

Specific cultivars such as Fernleaf and Golden Goddess can be easily grown in pots or even as indoor plants.

The ideal time to plant Bambusa multiplex is in early spring. Despite its size, you’ll be surprised at the tremendous growth rate of this bamboo, especially during the shooting season in spring. This bamboo will likely form an established hedge in about 2-5 years, shorter when conditions are right and the bamboo has plenty of space, nutrients, and water to grow.

How to care for Bambusa multiplex

Most Bambusa varieties are low-maintenance, so it doesn’t take much to keep them healthy and happy throughout the year. Notably, Bambusa multiplex can withstand cold better than many other varieties of bamboo, being hardy down to about 14ºF (-8ºC). However, it’ll be happiest in areas with milder winters.

While it’s generally low-maintenance, it’s still important to ensure that your Bambusa multiplex has the nutrients it needs for its growth. You can feed this bamboo about once a year. Much more than this could be over fertilizing. It’s better to fertilize less and focus more on mulching or adding compost. You can also choose a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to provide the bamboo with nutrients over a long period of time.

If you’re growing this bamboo as a hedge, you’ll probably want to trim it to your desired height and shape. For privacy screens, prune your bamboo by taking out dead and damaged culms so your plant has extra space and energy for new growth.

Watering Bambusa multiplex

Bambusa multiplex has moderate watering requirements. This evergreen bamboo grows best in moist but well-draining soil, so you want to water the bamboo regularly while ensuring the soil doesn’t become water-logged. Also note that Bambusa multiplex becomes more drought-tolerant when it’s mature, but it’s still important to provide regular watering, especially in its first six months.

As a good rule of thumb, young Bambusa multiplex should be watered about 2-3 times a week in summer when temperatures are high and just once every week or two in the cold season (or not at all if your winters are particularly cold or wet). Bambusa multiplex is a water-loving plant, but over-watering this bamboo can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the roots to rot.

Damage from scale insects on a plant's leaves
Photo Source: Flickr

Pest and diseases

When well-taken care of, Bambusa multiplex doesn’t have many serious pests and disease problems. In fact, it’s known to be somewhat resistant to pests like honey fungus. However, look out for pests and diseases including fungal spots, mealybugs, and scale insects.

The best way to prevent an infection or infestation is to keep your bamboo healthy. Sterilize your pruning materials in order not to avoid spreading diseases. Also allow the soil to drain properly between waterings to reduce the risk of fungal disease.

How to propagate Bambusa multiplex

As with many varieties of bamboo, Bambusa multiplex is rarely propagated from seeds. Instead, it’s usually propagated by dividing the clumps or taking cuttings. To do so, take at least three culms or use cuttings from the rhizomatous roots. Generally, the fastest and easiest way to propagate Bambusa multiplex is by taking a root cutting.

Uses of Bambusa multiplex

Bambusa multiplex creates lush, thick, beautiful hedges and privacy screens. It’s a perfect choice for gorgeous hedges as it has lovely, dense culms that create an effective screen while being easy to trim and maintain.

You can also grow this elegant bamboo as a specimen plant in the garden. As a smaller variety of bamboo, it’s ideal for growing in containers. Bambusa multiplex is also very valuable for various crafts as it’s fairly flexible and makes amazing weaving material for baskets.

Main Photo Source: Flickr

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