Dark, almost black, bamboo canes next to yellow-green bamboo stems

Phyllostachys Nigra ‘Black Bamboo’

Grab an authentic black theme for your garden. An eye-catching ambiance will definitely bring back life to any regular garden.

Quick Facts

  • Common name: Black Bamboo
  • Botanical name: Phyllostachys Nigra
  • Type: Running
  • Average height: 20-35 feet
  • Average diameter: 2.25 inches
  • Hardiness: 5°F (-15°C)
  • USDA zones: 7-10
  • UK Hardiness Zones: H6-H2
  • Light requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Best use: Privacy screening, decorative woodwork, musical instruments, container
USDA Zones 7-10 highlighted in green on a USA map

What are the characteristics of Phyllostachys Nigra?

Black bamboos are native to China. You will also see them in New Zealand and Australia. They are pretty invasive in some parts of Tanzania. These species came from the Poaceae (Gramineae) family.

Enjoy the sight of these upright polished black bamboos and its feathery green leaves. This bamboo species can grow up to 35 feet high with a diameter of more than 2 inches. The fresh culms appear to be green each spring and will slowly turn black in a couple of years or even purplish-black as it matures. You will notice a variation of light and dark canes which is matched by its slim and dark green leaves. It will initially spread slowly. However, it can be pretty persuasive when it reached its maturity.

Feel relaxed with the rustling sound of its clustered oval-shaped leaves. They are alternately arranged as they develop on its small shoots that emerge from its branches. The base of its blades is so narrow and the sheaths are hairless or glabrous but not near their edges. There is a small membranous formation covered with hairs where its leaf sheath reaches the blade. The leaf blades measure from 2 to 5 inches and 0.5 inches wide.

Flowers and seeds are rarely seen in this species. They mainly reproduce through suckers from its long creeping underground rhizomes. The rhizomes extend laterally into nearby areas. Its crawling underground rhizomes can be scattered in the ground and even in discarded garden trash.

How to care for this black bamboo?

Moist and well-drained soil are perfect for this bamboo. If planted in poor soil black bamboo tends to grow in a compact clump that creates thin and drooping culms. Supply a bountiful layer of fertile topsoil. Apply an ample amount of compost or aged manure and mulch.

Make sure to plant it in a wide empty space or bigger containers with loam-based compost. Fertilize once a month especially during its growing period. These species may become invasive in a warm condition. It might rip its pot open when they tend to spread.

You can reproduce more black bamboos by division. It is best done in spring. Black bamboos are generally disease-free but watch out for some slugs. They may damage new shoots. Remove those dead and damaged stems in spring.

Phyllostachys Nigra ‘Black Bamboo’ with the text How to Grow Phyllostachys Nigra ‘Black Bamboo’

For best results, you may thin them to show off their black stems. Just cut out any flowering shoots quickly to discourage further growing back. And lastly, protect them from the cold and dry winds.

What are the benefits of black bamboos?

Well cared black bamboos can be the main point of attention in any garden. It can be a dense hedge if pruned well. They are also one of the most valuable bamboos for decorative woodworking. It will preserve its dark or irregular colors even when dried. Some musical instruments are also made from black bamboos.

How to manage growth of Phyllostachys Nigra?

The specific control standards utilized for any plant invasion depends upon many circumstances like the ground, the expense and availability of labor, the invasion situation, and the behavior of other invasive varieties.

Prevention is still the soundest method of invasive species control. But if prevention is no longer acceptable, it is best to manage it when they are small. Start with the least infested fields. It needs a regular follow-up activity for sustainable control.

Mechanical removal is finally accompanied by chemical treatment as these bamboos regrow. It is stressful to spray on higher bamboos. It is better to spray them on their base. Make sure to read the labels first. Consult an expert whenever you are in doubt. Fire can also be used to control the invasion.

Photo credit: Fabio Alessandro Locati via Wikimedia Commons

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

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