It doesn’t surprise that it is called Fountain Bamboo when you look at it. The heavy foliage bends the thin stems outward. A beautiful clumping bamboo for anyone who wants a short privacy screen.
- Common name: Chinese Fountain Bamboo, Blue Fountain
- Botanical Name: Fargesia nitida
- Type: Clumping
- Average height: 10-12 ft (3-3.5 m)
- Average diameter: 0.75 in (1.9 cm)
- Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C) – Will not survive in high heat/humidity
- USDA Zones: 5-9
- Light requirements: Partial shade or total shade
- Best use: Privacy screen, ornamental, container, crafting
Fargesia nitida (also known as Chinese Fountain Bamboo and Blue Fountain), was previously referred to as Arundinaria nitida/Semiarundinaria nitida. It is a durable and elegant bamboo species, native to China.
How does Blue Fountain Bamboo look like?
Fargesia nitida tends to grow rapidly in clumps with greenish-purplish canes that are slender and tall. This particular bamboo is compact and will grow attractive dark green leaves. It will get to a height of 10-12 feet and because of its weight, the canes will droop like a bow and appear fountain-shaped.
At first glance, Fargesia nitida appears slim and fragile but in fact, the bamboo species is very durable and tough. The species is easily able to tolerate the severe winters in North America.
The leaves of Fargesia nitida reach a maximum size of 4 inches (10 cm) and tend to be narrow. The leaves have a slightly dark green appearance on the upper surface and more grayish-green on the undersurface.
Since it grows in clusters, the width or diameter will be about 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m). The individual mature canes will have a diameter of 0.3-0.75 inches (0.7-1.9 cm), depending on the environmental conditions. If the nights are hot and the daytime temperatures are high, the growth will be about 8 feet with a diameter of 0.3 inches.
What are the best growing conditions for Fargesia nitida
Fargesia Nitida is ideal for gardeners who want elegance with low maintenance.
Temperature & climate
The other key feature about this bamboo is the ability to tolerate exceptionally cold temperatures – as low as -20°F (-29°C). Fargesia nitida is a popular bamboo in many parts of Europe and has recently become very popular in the North-Western United States.
In the USA, Fargesia nitida grows well in zone 5. It doesn’t like environments with high humidity and high temperatures. So, it’s not a good choice for the South-Eastern states.
In hot and dry weather, the bamboo should be provided with regular water.
Fargesia Nitida prefers partial or complete shade. It can grow in the sun but too much light exposure will cause the leaves to wrinkle.
Fargesia nitida can be grown in light sandy or medium soil. It can even grow in heavy clay soil as long as it is provided with ample water and it drains well. It is important to ensure that the soil is rich in nutrients and fertile.
The soil should be neutral or slightly acidic for optimal growth.
While Fargesia nitida can grow almost anywhere, it thrives near the edges of a stream, pond or river.
How to plant F. nitida
If the bamboo is grown to form a screen or a hedge, then it is best to keep the plants 3-4 feet apart.
It takes about 3 years for the plant to be established and about 8-10 years to reach its maximum height of 8-12 feet.
Before growing the bamboo, you should ensure that the soil has water retentive properties and is fertile. Pick a spot that isn’t windy or very sunny.
The initial growth can take place in a loam-based compost with the regular addition of liquid fertilizer, esp. during the growth season (Spring).
The shoots will start to appear in late summer and remain bare throughout late fall and winter. The shoots will have a dark bluish hue and will be covered with a whitish sheath. As spring approaches, new shoots will emerge and generate leaves that add weight to the cane, causing it to bow or droop.
During the winter season, the leaves will curl into thin needle-like shapes, which helps decrease stress on the roots. When warm weather returns, the leaves will be restored to their original open shape.
How to care for Blue Fountain Bamboo
Like we said already, this bamboo requires little maintenance. There are still a few tips that we want to send your way.
Pruning is required in spring and at the end of summer to remove any dead, damaged or weak stems. Sometimes the bamboo growth can be dense and pruning also helps restore the aesthetics of the bamboo.
If you want to discourage any further bamboo growth, cut out any shoots when they appear.
If you find flowers, trim them so that the plant can grow. If you keep flowers, all energy goes into the flowering process, and eventually, it could kill your plant.
Disease and Safety
Fargesia Nitida is virtually disease-free. However, if the weather is very wet, you have to keep an eye out for slugs, which can damage new shoots. The bamboo is too hard to chew so it is deer resistant.
The other key benefit of this bamboo is that it is not harmful to animals or humans (no risk of allergies).
If you want to propagate the bamboo, this is best done in spring by planting cuttings of the young rhizomes.
Best uses of this Fargesia species
Chinese Fountain bamboo is a very popular choice for privacy screens or hedges. As it grows very dense and doesn’t spread, it creates a perfect screen.
A lot of people also use it as an accent in their garden as it stays in a circular shape. The cut stems (culms) can be used for crafts, such as patio covers, plant containers, or garden decoration.
[Photo credit: Bamboo Garden]