Are you looking for a beautiful, quick-growing, and tasty bamboo to grow in your garden? Sweetshoot Bamboo is a running variety known especially for its thick culms and edible shoots.
- Common name: Sweetshoot Bamboo
- Botanical name: Phyllostachys dulcis
- Type: Running
- Average height: 30-40 ft (9-12 m)
- Average diameter: 3 in (7.6 cm)
- Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
- USDA Zones: 6-10
- Light requirements: Full sun to partial shade
- Best use: Decorative, wood crafts, privacy screening, windbreak, erosion control, container, edible shoots
Phyllostachys dulcis or Sweetshoot Bamboo is native to the temperate forests of China. As the name suggests, Sweetshoot Bamboo is traditionally grown for its delicious edible shoots in several Chinese provinces such as Zhejiang, Fujian, and Jiangsu.
Not only are its shoots some of the best-tasting of all bamboos, but Phyllostachys dulcis is also a versatile, easy-to-grow ornamental.
This running bamboo species has a fast growth rate and spreads quickly, especially in warm, humid regions. It can reach almost 40 feet in height and produces large, thick culms even though it’s not as tall as its other cousins in the Phyllostachys genus.
What does Phyllostachys dulcis look like?
The culms of Sweetshoot Bamboo are light green in color, with evenly spaced internodes. Occasionally they’ll also display cream-colored stripes. When young, the internodes are coated in a thin, white powder. As they mature, they take on a bluish-green tint, but the silvery-white coating remains on the culms near the joints.
It’s very rare that you’ll see Phyllostachys dulcis in bloom. On average, it only flowers once every 42 to 43 years. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime event! When it does happen, the plants all bloom simultaneously and start to produce seeds. At the same time, the culms begin to dry and within a few years all of the bamboo dies.
How to grow Sweetshoot Bamboo
Phyllostachys dulcis isn’t too picky about where it’s grown as long as it has access to sufficient sunlight, water, and nutrients.
If you’d like to grow this bamboo into a privacy screen or windbreak, space the young plants about 3-4 feet (1 m) apart. Your bamboo patch may have a sparse look at first, but the plants will send out new shoots that will fill up the gaps in no time.
For best results, plant your Phyllostachys dulcis in a part of the garden that gets full sun for at least 6-8 hours per day. It can tolerate partial shade but will grow at a slower rate. However, planting this running bamboo in partial shade could help in managing its spread.
Phyllostachys dulcis can grow in a wide range of soil types but will perform best in loamy, slightly acidic, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. If your garden has clay-heavy soil, mix in some compost, sand, and leaf mold before planting. This will improve drainage and provide your bamboo with the nutrients needed for healthy growth.
How to care for Phyllostachys dulcis
Sweetshoot Bamboo is a hardy and dependable ornamental that’s fairly easy to care for. But because it’s such a tough, fast-growing species, it can easily escape cultivation and, if you’re not careful, it can become invasive. With that in mind, keep reading to learn how to best care for this beautiful bamboo.
Water your Sweetshoot Bamboo thoroughly and regularly directly after planting. This will encourage the young plants to become established. If planting later in the year, use plenty of mulch to protect the roots from the cold.
After planting, make sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soaked. Bamboo plants need regular water in the first year after planting. You can add mulch to help retain soil moisture. Grass clippings are a great choice, as they will also give the plants a nitrogen boost. Once the bamboo becomes established, it can go longer without regular watering, especially if your area receives regular rainfall.
Make sure to pay close attention if you’re growing Phyllostachys dulcis in pots. The soil in containers tends to dry out faster, which means you need to water your bamboo more often. However, if the pot has poor drainage, or if the potting mix is compacted, the soil can become waterlogged, and the roots will start rotting.
Phyllostachys dulcis is a vigorous grower, so it will need fertilizer to support that growth. Given that all bamboo species are a type of grass, you can simply use lawn fertilizer. Or, if you’re looking for an organic alternative, use a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, such as blood meal. For best results, fertilize your bamboo early in the season, before the new shoots emerge.
If you have deer in your area, they may be tempted by your Sweetshoot Bamboo, especially in winter. But don’t worry, it’s unlikely they’ll do severe damage to your grove. Deer may browse the foliage or munch on the occasional shoot. However, they don’t find this bamboo particularly appetizing, so you don’t need to take any preventive measures to keep it safe from deer.
Sweetshoot Bamboo is an evergreen plant, but it will shed and renew its leaves in the spring. There’s no need to rake up the fallen leaves. In fact, they act as an organic mulch and weed suppressant!
You can help highlight the classic beauty of Phyllostachys dulcis by pruning along the culms, which also gives your bamboo patch an open grove look.
How to control the spread of Phyllostachys dulcis
Like all Phyllostachys species, Sweetshoot Bamboo can spread rapidly. The easiest way to keep it contained is using a root barrier, regularly trimming the rhizomes, and harvesting the young shoots.
Another option is to grow Sweetshoot Bamboo in large containers. Admittedly, growing bamboo in a pot will reduce its height, so it’s unlikely that it’ll grow taller than 6 feet. But this is a great way to make sure it doesn’t shoot up all over your garden, or worse, your neighbors’ yards.
How to use Sweetshoot Bamboo
Phyllostachys dulcis is a fantastic plant that combines ornamental and culinary value. The clue is in the name, after all. Sweetshoot Bamboo is one of the tastiest varieties of edible bamboo, producing tender shoots with very little bitterness. The shoots emerge in late April and are best enjoyed when they’re young.
Sweetshoot Bamboo is not only tasty, but also a gorgeous ornamental plant. The combination of pale green and white rings adds to the attractive appearance of the young culms.
Phyllostachys dulcis is a wonderful pick if you want to create a bamboo grove but don’t have a lot of space, or you don’t want to deal with very large, towering plants. Unlike other species in this genus, Sweetshoot Bamboo typically grows to a height of 30 to 40 ft (9-12 m). Its thick, large canes make it a great option as a natural bamboo windbreak.
Traditionally, the culms of the Phyllostachys dulcis are also used to make handles for farming tools.
What do you like about Sweetshoot Bamboo? Comment below with any questions you have!
[Main photo source: Bambooweb]