Picking Out the Right Bamboo
Unfortunately, there are many, many types of bamboo which can mean extensive research on your part. This page was created not necessarily to sell you bamboo, but to help you figure out what kind of bamboo you should buy based on your needs, and the best place to find bamboo for sale.
Three Criteria You Need to Know Before You Purchase Bamboo
There are thousands of “types” of bamboo ranging from one hundred feet tall to only a few inches tall each with their own characteristics. Below you will find three ways bamboo is commonly sorted which will help you determine what bamboo is best for you.
Do you want it to spread?
To start with, most bamboo nurseries separate their bamboo plants by clumping and running varieties. Bamboo can be extremely invasive so it’s important to evaluate if you are OK with the plant you chose spreading. You should also ask yourself if there would be a problem if your plant moved into neighboring land.
Clumping varieties (such as Fargesia) sendoff “U” shaped runners and thus the resulting plant will end up next to the parent. In this way, the bamboo doesn’t spread more than a few inches a year. This makes clumping varieties fairly easy to control.
Running varieties, on the other hand, are renowned for sending off runners in every which way. This type of bamboo tends to be more aggressive and invasive. Do note though that if you fall in love with a running variety there are some ways to control how and where they spread to.
What’s Your Climate?
The second way we typically sort our plants is by zones or cold hardiness. Bamboo is thought of as a tropical plant, but some species can be hardy to -20 F. Typically speaking, if you live in zones 3 or 4 it’s best to plan on enjoying bamboo houseplants or be willing to move your outdoor plants inside in the winter.
You also want to think about sunlight requirements as well. Many species of bamboo require large amounts of shade, but others may need up to eight hours of sunlight!
How tall do you want it?
When you look for bamboo plants for sale you will want to check how tall they get. Each grower classifies various heights differently, but on this website you can think of ground covers ranging from an inch in height to a couple feet, small bamboo plants are two to ten feet in height, medium bamboo is ten to thirty feet, and large bamboo is thirty feet and up.
Where to Buy Bamboo.
By now you should have an idea of how to distinguish the type of plant you want to buy for your intended purpose (hedge, groundcover, garden centerpiece etc.). So now, let’s talk about where to buy bamboo.
Obviously the best option is to find a local nursery with bamboo plants for sale. This shouldn’t be too much of issue in bigger cities and suburban areas. Especially if you aren’t seeking one specific bamboo species and are happy with the more common varieties. It is a good idea to make sure the nursery has a good reputation so they can deliver accurate information about how a plant grows best specific to your region (the biggest benefit of buying locally!). Local nurseries may also be the best way to get larger and older plants since transporting these types of plants can be costly.
Bamboo Plants Online
If you can’t find a reputable grower locally (which is often the case) you should be able to find a reputable grower online. Buying through an online nursery can be beneficial in that many of the nurseries specialize in bamboo alone and their expertise can help you find the perfect plant. Online nurseries also provide a larger variety of bamboo plants for sale than what you might find at a local nursery.
Although not recommended at all, if you don’t care exactly what kind of bamboo you get or if you’re willing to plant bamboo from seed or get small plants there’s a good chance you will be able to find cheap bamboo plants for sale. Bamboo plants can be found for sale in many local stores, such as Home Depot or Lowes. It’s hard to determine what you’re going to get when you purchase bamboo from stores like this, but you can often get good deals. Store like this are also very popular for buying indoor bamboo plants, such as lucky bamboo (although it isn’t really bamboo). But, once again, even with the indoor plants you won’t get the quality or the knowledge that comes with buying plants at a nursery. Another way to get bamboo plants for sale that are cheap is through local classifieds or online at auction sites such as Ebay. Although you may need to have some diligence when ordering bamboo from these types of locations. Lastly, if you’re interested in buying more exotic varieties at a potentially cheaper price you should tune into the American Bamboo Society auctions which also happen at local chapters (there may be one near you!). These bamboo are obviously not cheaper than popular bamboo variations you can find at Lowes, but they will be grown by reputable breeders.
Some people get lucky and are able to get free bamboo specimens. The easiest way to do this is by taking a cutting (with permission of course) from someone who already has an established plant. Another way to find free bamboo plants is to check Craigslist or local classifieds. The downside of getting free bamboo is that there is a good chance you won’t know much, if anything, about the plant you get.
Picking Out Your Plant
If you do have the privilege of picking out your bamboo in person these tips will help you.
Pick plants with large roots and large yellow rhizomes. Brown rhizomes are a bad sign! Do note though, that some parts of the rhizome will be covered by a sheath which can make it look brown. Since bamboo generates new culms each year, it’s more important that the plant have healthy roots above everything.
The next thing you should check out are the newest culms (especially if you can’t see the roots). Old culms may look big and beautiful or small and weak, but they won’t be a good representation of how the plant has fared since being potted. New culms should be big, healthy, and vigorous. If you get a plant that looks like it has “ok” new canes expect the plant to look “ok” as it grows.
If you find the roots and culms to be looking great than the foliage should look decent as well… and that’s all the plant NEEDS. But, if the plants you’re looking at have equally healthy looking roots and canes selecting the best foliage is a bonus.
Once you’ve found the perfect plant check out our page on planting bamboo!