Dense foliage of Fargesia Bamboo at a pond

Fargesia Bamboo Plants – Hardy & Non-Invasive

Bamboo species of the Fargesia genus are some of the most popular choices for privacy screens. They are non-invasive clumpers that don’t get too tall.

Fargesia bamboo plants are native to the mountainous areas of South Western China. They also grow in abundance in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, as well as Eastern Himalaya. Some of the Fargesia bamboos are vital food for the Chinese Panda.

Fargesia was named after Père Paul Guillaume Farges (1844-1912), who was a French missionary as well as amateur botanist in China. In Chinese, Fargesia bamboo is referred to as ‘Jian Zhu’ which means ‘arrow bamboo.’

Until a century ago, only a few species of the Fargesia genus were available to the American gardener but in the last few decades, many more species of Fargesia have been imported into the US from China.

Why is Fargesia bamboo a popular choice?

Whether it is for privacy or an accent in the garden, Fargesias have become quite popular all over the world. The question is why, though?

A hardy bamboo for cooler climates

Being a mountain bamboo, these species are hardy plants which prefer cooler climates. They love shade or morning sun.

The only climate Fargesia bamboo doesn’t prefer is very hot and humid weather. So, it’s not suitable for the Southern USA.

Doesn’t grow too tall

Compared to other bamboo species, Fargesias don’t grow very tall. They are considered short to mid-sized bamboos. The tallest variety gets about 30 ft (10 m).

It’s non-invasive

Fargesia bamboo is characterized as pachymorph meaning that they have clump roots. This means it stays in one area and doesn’t travel far (like running bamboo does). So, you don’t have to worry about barriers and the bamboo taking over your neighbor’s garden.

Perfect privacy screen

All varieties of Fargesia have copious green foliage and grow very dense. This makes an excellent evergreen hedge or screen. More important, these bamboo are also deer and pest resistant.

Beautiful appearance

Most Fargesia varieties have thin culms and slender, green, glossy leaves. The foliage becomes so heavy that the culms bend outwards. This make them look like a fountain.

The culms may vary in color from reddish-brown to green.

Growing Fargesia bamboo plants

You might be here because you are thinking about picking a Fargesia variety. For that you need to know if they are suitable for your area and purpose.

Most of the Fargesia species take about 10-14 years to fully mature.

The one great feature about fargesia bamboo is that they can be planted all year round as long as the soil is moist, well-drained, and free of frost.

During the initial growth, fargesia requires plenty of water and some liquid fertilizer. In the summer, especially in dry weather, the leaves will curl up. Hence, regular watering is required.

Hardiness & tolerances

All fargesia species are quite drought tolerant. If the weather is dry for prolonged periods, watering is recommended to prevent growth retardation.

These hardy bamboos are very tolerant of severe cold including areas where there is snow and winter ice. They are also fine with wind.

They like the morning sun but shouldn’t be fully exposed in the midday sun. So, shade to partial shade is best.

Which North American zones can Fargesia be grown in?

Most Fargesia bamboos can grow in zones 6-9. Their hardiness makes them perfect for growing in many parts of the northern USA.

Areas where Fargesia should not be grown

Because these bamboo do not tolerate extremes of heat and humidity, they are not recommended in areas of the Southern USA, especially the SE where nighttime temperatures are usually above 72F.

Two photos of Fargesia Bamboo species and the text: Fargesia Bamboo - Hardy & Non-Invasive

Fargesia care

During the hotter periods, you should water frequently. If you see the leaves curl up, don’t panic! This is a well known defense mechanism of Fargesias. They will uncurl when the sun sets or/and when they get water.

Even though fargesia bamboo requires little maintenance, regular pruning is recommended to enhance aesthetics.

All dead leaves and weakened stems should be removed at least once a year. If the bamboo growth is dense, then trimming may be required to thin the vegetation.

What Fargesia bamboo plants are there?

The Fargesia genus has roughly 80 accepted varieties. Some of the previously listed Fargesia species have been moved over to the genera Thamnocalamus, Yushania, and Borinda.

Of course, you cannot buy all of these. For the commonly available Fargesias, click here.

Some common Fargesia species that are available in the USA and Europe include the following:

Fargesia nitida ‘Blue Fountain’

  • Height: 12-15 ft (3.7-4.6 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.75 in (1.9 cm)
  • USDA zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Full shade, part shade
  • Soil: Light sandy, medium soil
  • Watering: Regular

Fargesia nitida is an evergreen bamboo that reaches a height of 12 feet on average. When mature the culms have a dark greenish hue. As you can probably imagine with the name, this bamboo droops for the fountain look.

This is an ideal bamboo for the gardener who wants to perform little maintenance. The bamboo is sturdy, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. It is often used as a fence, hedge or a screen.

Bushy Fragesia nitida in a garden landscape behind a house
Fargesia nitida (Photo source: Bamboo Garden)

Fargesia murielae ‘Umbrella Bamboo’

  • Height: 10-13 ft (3-4 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.5 in (1.27 cm)
  • USDA zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Part shade
  • Soil: Moist soil, neutral or slightly alkaline
  • Watering: Regular

Fargesia murielae (also known as the Umbrella Bamboo) is a beautiful evergreen bamboo with greenish-yellow canes that will bow outwards. The general shape is like Fargesia nitida.

Fargesia Muriliae bamboo in a garden
Fargesia Muriliae

Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Dragon’

  • Height: 9-12 ft (2.7-3.7 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.75 in (1.9 cm)
  • USDA zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Prefers mostly sunny environments, but not intense sunlight
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Watering: Regular

Fargesia sp. Jiuzhaigou, also known as the ‘Red Dragon’ grows to a height of 9-12 feet. Jiuzhaigou is well known for its intense reddish new culms. As the plant matures, the culms will start to change color and appear yellow.

Another distinct feature of this particular bamboo is that it needs to be planted in an area with plenty of direct sun. However, it does not tolerate the afternoon sun well and thus some type of shade should be provided. In the presence of too much sun, like most other Fargesia, the Jiuzhaigou leaves will curl up.

The leaves of Jiuzhaigou also tend to be small and thus will not add too much weight on the canes, leaving them to grow upright.

Red bamboo stems
Fargesia Jiuzhaigou

Fargesia rufa ‘Dragon Head Bamboo’

  • Height: 7-10 ft (2-3 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.5 in (1.27 cm)
  • USDA zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Light sun, part shade
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained
  • Watering: Average

Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’ is a medium height bamboo that is a beautiful, extremely cold hardy clumping bamboo plant. During early spring, the new shoots have a bright orange-reddish hue that immediately enhances the landscape.

Unlike other Fargesias, Rufa is able to tolerate full sun without causing the leaves to curl. For gardeners who want a fence or screen with little maintenance, this should be the top choice bamboo.

Young small Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa’ bamboo plant in a garden with white brick wall in the back
Fargesia rufa

Fargesia robusta ‘Campbell’s form’

  • Height: 12-15 ft (3.7-4.6 m)
  • Stem diameter: 0.75 in (1.9 cm)
  • USDA zones: 7-9
  • Hardiness: 0°F (-18°C)
  • Light: Light sun, part shade
  • Soil: Moist, sandy or heavy clay with good drainage
  • Watering: Regular

Fargesia robusta is one of the few varieties that stays upright because it has sturdy culms. The sheath is quite persistent and fades into a creamy-white. This gives Robusta a checkered look.

This Fargesia is also not as hardy as its “siblings”. However, it is more sun-tolerant than the others.

Green thin bamboo culms with white sheaths

Where to buy Fargesia bamboo plants?

If you made up your mind now that this is a great plant for your garden project, you are probably wondering where to buy it from.

I always recommend buying in a local store. Shipping plants isn’t the best. So, if you can go to a local store or nursery.

If this is unavailable for you, check out these online stores.

For the US:

Main Image Source: Daniel J. Layton

Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider