When a plant is called Beautiful Bamboo, you know you should take a look at it. Although its culms are quite classic, the sheaths of shoots are very unique!
- Common name: Beautiful Bamboo
- Botanical name: Phyllostachys mannii ‘Decora’
- Type: Running
- Average height: 25-30 ft (7.6 – 9 m)
- Average diameter: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
- Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
- USDA zones: 6 to 10
- UK Hardiness: H6
- Light requirements: Full sun to shade
- Best use: Wood crafts, privacy screen/hedge, decorative, windbreaks, container, edible shoots
How does Beautiful Bamboo look like?
This running bamboo has green strong upright culms with regular internodes. I would say this is the appearance that you imagine bamboo to look like. The nodes are white and the sheath scar is dark (a thin line above and below node). Bamboos from the Phyllostachys genus often have a prominent sulcus groove in a different color. This one, however, is completely green.
What makes Phyllostachys decora so special, is the sheath. When new shoots emerge, they have colorfully striped sheaths. It surely is a one-of-a-kind feature. It looks like purple (sometimes reddish or brownish) fine stripes on a creamy natural blade.
The foliage of P. mannii ‘Decora’ is dense and droopy. It’s more like a bush in the first years. This makes it a great choice for privacy screens and hedges. It’s fascinating that the culms can be so upright with a density like this.
The leaves are shiny and dark green. They have a narrow lance shape.
Where does it grow best?
Beautiful Bamboo is native to the Yangtze valley in China. Despite the subtropical origin, it’s a quite tolerant and hardy plant. It is one of the best bamboos for stressful weather, such as drought, heat, and cold.
P. mannii ‘Decora’ can withstand dry spells and can be planted in full sun. This is why it is so popular in Nevada and Arizona, for example.
It also survives temperatures down to -10°F (-23°C) so that it’s even great for locations further North (USDA Zone 6).
How to take care of Phyllostachys decora?
Like I said above, this bamboo species is very tolerant, which means that it’s also not picky when it comes to plant care.
One thing, however, is very important. You need to contain it. Beautiful Bamboo is a vigorous spreader because of it’s running rhizomes. You need to build barriers and maintain them. Sometimes barriers can shift or break and won’t do the trick. This means you should check on them at least once a year. Otherwise, your neighbors might get upset.
You also should practice root pruning on a regular basis. This way you can keep the bamboo where it should stay.
Once a year in spring, you should also cut back dead culms. This way you enhance the display.
If you grow Phyllostachys decora in containers, you still have to repot and divide the plants. They will outgrow any pot within 2-3 years.
What Beautiful Bamboo is used for
Despite the attractive appearance, P. decora can be useful in other ways.
The shoots of this species don’t just look nice, you can eat them as well. They may not be the most delicious ones (in comparison to Moso or Sweet Shoot bamboo), but they are edible.
The strong and straight culms can be used for wood crafts, such as garden tools, furniture, decorative crafts, and more.
If you need a windbreak or a privacy screen, Phyllostachys decora is definitely a great choice! The dense foliage will provide this exactly. In addition, it also just makes a nice decorative arrangement in a garden setting. So, if you are just looking to add some tropical touch to your garden, it’ll get this job done as well.
Photo credit for featured image: David Arnold from MidTenn Bamboo