Bambusa nana is a rare bamboo species native to subtropical regions of Thailand. Its delicate, tree-like appearance boosts greenery and invites nature right into your backyard. When planted close together, this tight-clumping bamboo can be shaped into a privacy screen or luscious topiary that is sure to be a statement piece in any garden.
- Common name: Thai Silk Bamboo
- Botanical name: Bambusa nana
- Type: Clumping
- Average height: 20 ft (6m)
- Average diameter: 2 in (5cm)
- Hardiness: 29°F (-2°C)
- USDA Zones: 8-9
- Light requirements: Full sun to partial shade
- Best use: Privacy screen/hedge, ornamental, container, culinary, construction
Bambusa nana is a tight clumping, and non-invasive bamboo. Its culms grow straight and tend to be bare at the base while boasting a beautiful canopy of silky, pastel green leaves earning it the name Thai Silk Bamboo.
With a subtropical vibe, Thai Silk Bamboo offers elegance and charm. Wildlife flock to enjoy its virtues wherever it’s grown.
As a culinary bamboo, its shoots are sweet to the taste when cooked in soup or stir fry. Testament to its graceful appearance, Thai Silk Bamboo is often grown as a mid-height privacy hedge or as an ornamental feature.
What does Bambusa nana look like?
Bambusa nana is considered a premium, high-end bamboo for the backyard. It has an upright growing habit with straight, dark green culms. As the culms grow taller, they bend slightly from the weight of the leaves, creating a bowing canopy.
Its light green foliage spawn in long, delicate strands that have a silky appearance. Fewer leaves grow near the base of the culms, making the top two-thirds dense and bushy.
As a clumping bamboo species, it’s compact enough to create a privacy screen when planted in clusters. For a decorative look, it can also be grown sparsely to create light, soft, and airy shrubbery in the garden.
Where to plant Bambusa nana
Being native to Thailand, Thai Silk Bamboo prefers to be grown in regions with warm summers, long growing seasons, and mild winters. It’s cold-tolerant but isn’t as resistant to low temperatures as some other bamboo species.
Non-hardy regions in zones 8-9 are ideal for growing Thai Silk Bamboo, where temperatures are warm and stable throughout the year.
When choosing the right planting position in your backyard, it’s best to opt for full sun. Partial shade is tolerated, but sunnier spots are preferred. If you’re growing Thai Silk Bamboo in partial shade, make sure your bamboo will still receive a minimum 6 hours of sunlight.
Like most species of bamboo, Thai Silk Bamboo prefers to live in moist soil with good drainage. Plant your bamboo in heavy, loamy, or clay-type soil. To prevent the ground from becoming brittle, mulch your bamboo once a year, especially during dry conditions.
Luckily, Thai Silk Bamboo isn’t too fussy, so you can use wood chips, oak leaves, pine needles, or even bamboo leaves as mulch.
How to take care of Bambusa nana
Thai Silk Bamboo can be a low-maintenance plant, but it depends on how you want it to appear in your garden. It can be neatly shaped or left alone to sprout wildly.
For example, to grow Thai Silk Bamboo as an elegant ornamental piece, you’ll need to prune it regularly to keep it tidy. On the other hand, when growing it as a mid-height privacy screen you can let it grow freely so as to produce a nice dense patch.
Water sparsely in the rainy season and regularly during hot weather. Thai Silk Bamboo is susceptible to root rot when the soil remains soggy, so it’s important to have well-draining soil.
Mulching your bamboo is an excellent way to prevent over or under-watering. Mulch retains moisture, which prevents the soil from becoming too wet or too dry.
When applying mulch, it’s best to keep it 1-2 inches away from the base of the culms. This allows some water to penetrate the soil directly as well as the mulch. It also gives the shoots breathing room and prevents rotting.
A unique feature of Thai Silk Bamboo is its lack of leaves on the bottom third of the culms. When regularly pruned, you can shape your bamboo into a tree-like structure or topiary.
As the bamboo grows, it should shed most of its bottom leaves. However, it’s normal for some to remain on the culms throughout the year. To keep your bamboo looking tidy, prune the leaves on the bottom third at least once a year.
If you want to shape your Thai Silk Bamboo into a topiary, you can prune the culms as far as up to the top third. Since bamboo is fast-growing, you’ll need to regularly shape the topiary to keep it tamed.
Uses of Bambusa nana
Being a rare bamboo species that’s usually cultivated (rather than found in the wild), Thai Silk Bamboo can be hard to find. This is why it’s often grown as a conversational centerpiece.
Although it usually doesn’t grow to more than 20ft in height, it’s best grown as a medium-height privacy screen. It’s generally low-maintenance, but if you’re shaping your Thai Silk Bamboo into an archway or topiary, it’ll require plenty of time, care, and attention.
Moreover, the shoots of Thai Silk Bamboo can be processed, harvested, and cooked! The culms taste sweet, and are ideal for adding to soups or stir fry.