Red bamboo stems

Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Bamboo’

Thanks to its show-stopping red culms, Fargesia jiuzhaigou is better known by its common names, Red Bamboo Plant or Red Dragon Bamboo. Red Bamboo is not only strong, durable and cold hardy, but it’s also elegant and ornamental, making it a great addition to any bamboo garden.

Quick Facts

  • Common name: Red Dragon
  • Botanical Name: Fargesia Jiuzhaigou (pronounced: ju-zie-go)
  • Type: Clumping
  • Average height: 9-12 ft (2.7-3.7 m)
  • Average diameter: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-30°C)
  • USDA Zones: 5-9
  • UK Hardiness Zones: H7-H3
  • Light requirements: Prefers mostly sunny environments, but not intense sunlight
  • Best use: Privacy screen, ornamental
USDA Zones 5-9 highlighted on a map
USDA Zones 5-9

This enchanting and colorful bamboo variety was discovered in Jiuzhaigou Park, located in northern Sichuan, China. Its collector, German pharmacist Stephan Wagner, brought the seedlings back to Europe in 1986. It was then propagated and eventually made its way to the United States.

Red Bamboo is a popular choice for privacy screening, tall hedges, or ornamental gardening. Its upright, light structure makes for a tranquil appearance.

Fargesia Jiuzhaigou has several cultivars with slight variations in their color or size, including:

  • Jiuzhaigou II
  • Jiuzhaigou Genf
  • ‍‍Jiuzhaigou 4
  • Jiuzhaigou 9
  • ‍‍Jiuzhaigou 10

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about caring for this delicate bamboo species, which is easier than you might expect!

What does Fargesia jiuzhaigou look like?

As its name suggests, Red Bamboo was nicknamed for its vibrant red culms. New stems emerge green but change to a reddish-purple color over time. As the culms age, they eventually lighten into a pale orange color.

Culms of Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Bamboo'
[Source: BambooWeb]

Depending on the temperature and light exposure, the red color can intensify more during the fall and spring. More sunlight exposure will turn the culms a deeper red, but too much sun can cause the leaves to curl.

Like other Fargesia bamboo species, Red Bamboo has thin, wispy leaves that are delicate in appearance. The small leaves don’t weigh down the culms, giving Red Bamboo its upright appearance. Red Bamboo can flower, but it’s not expected to do so for a long time.

Fargesia jiuzhaigou is quite hardy. However, it can shed a third of its beautiful foliage in the winter. This means that strong winds can pose a problem, so aim to plant your Red Bamboo in a well-protected location.

What are the best growing conditions for Fargesia jiuzhaigou?

Don’t let the beautiful and delicate foliage of Red Bamboo intimidate you! Keeping this fast-growing red beauty as a privacy screen or as an ornamental feature in your garden landscape is easier than you might expect. Once you establish a great location that will give it the light and temperature requirements it needs, it will grow to its full potential in no time.

Leaves of Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Bamboo’ with the text Best Growing Conditions for Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Bamboo’.

Light requirements

Fargesia Jiuzhaigou thrives in dappled shade environments. Depending on how hot and humid your climate gets, this type of bamboo can also tolerate full-sun conditions.

Ideally, it should receive plenty of morning sun and be protected from the harsh afternoon heat. If your Red Bamboo is getting too much sunlight, you’ll notice that the leaves can start to curl to protect themselves. If this happens, try not to panic, as they’ll unfurl again in the shade.

Temperature requirements

Red Bamboo is cold tolerant to -25°F (or -31°C). However, if your bamboo is young, you’ll want to protect it with horticultural fleece for its first two winters. You may also notice some leaf loss in juvenile plants during the winter, but as it matures your plant will be able to better tolerate the cold.

If your temperature gets hot during the summer, you can mulch around the bamboo to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. Fargesia jiuzhaigou isn’t tolerant of intense heat and high humidity, so it’s not suitable for climates that experience scorching summer heat, including many southern regions in the United States.

Soil requirements

Red Bamboo will grow best in a rich, well-draining soil. It’s not particularly invasive, therefore rhizome barriers are not necessary. However, because of its hardiness, you can easily grow Red Bamboo in containers.

A person examining a rich, well-draining soil compatible for Red Bamboo.

While Red Bamboo isn’t particular about soil pH, it’ll grow much better in rich, high-quality soil. You can amend your soil with garden compost or a slow-release fertilizer in order to encourage the development of healthy roots and ample foliage.

When fertilizing your Red Bamboo, an application of spring fertilizer combined with another application of autumn fertilizer in early fall will help it weather cold winters.

Watering

Water your red bamboo plant when the top two inches of the soil becomes dry. Remember that depending on temperature, your shade-dwelling red bamboo may not dry out as quickly, so avoid root rot by checking the soil before watering. Fargesia jiuzhaigou is intolerant of standing water, so having well-draining soil is paramount to preventing overwatering and rot.

On the other hand, if your soil is drying out too quickly, particularly in the summer, you’ll notice that a large part of your beautiful bamboo foliage will begin to drop. Ensuring juvenile red bamboo is watered efficiently is key to giving it the best start possible. You can also add a layer of mulch to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

How to care for Fargesia jiuzhaigou

If you’ve been thinking about adding Red Bamboo to your garden, you’ll be happy to know that it’s quite easy to care for. As long as you can master your Red Bamboo’s nuanced watering requirements, it’s a rewarding bamboo to grow since it requires very little maintenance and rarely encounters problems.

Pruning

Pruning isn’t necessary for healthy growth because your red bamboo plant is a fast grower on its own. However, you can prune your plant up to twice annually if desired. If you choose to prune your Red Bamboo, the best time to give it a trim is in May or June.

Common problems and pests

If you can master your bamboo’s watering technique, you’re likely in the clear for most diseases or problems. Luckily Red Bamboo is overall very pest resistant; it’s not particularly prone to aphids, slugs, or even larger pests like rabbits and deer.

Occasionally, you may find spider mites or white flies on your Fargesia jiuzhaigou, and in Germany, cicadas have become increasingly problematic. However, that’s much less prevalent in North America. Fargesia jiuzhaigou also is remarkably resistant to most fungal or viral diseases.

Gardening tools and materials use to care and maintain Fargesia Jiuzhaigou ‘Red Bamboo’.

If you spot a pest on your Red Bamboo, do your best to remove any visible adults by spraying the foliage with water and then treating it with either an insecticidal soap or diluted neem oil. It’s best to spray in the evening and first test the product on a small area of the plant.

Ultimately, pests are most drawn to struggling plants, so growing healthy, strong bamboo is your best defense against pests and other diseases.

Uses for Fargesia jiuzhaigou

Fargesia jiuzhaigou is excellent for tall privacy hedges and ornamental gardens. It’s a fast grower, so you can have a tall privacy hedge very quickly. So much so that if you’re looking for a shorter privacy hedge, this bamboo might not be the best choice.

Additionally, garden lovers will thoroughly enjoy this peaceful-looking plant. It’s often combined with other ornamental garden features like water fountains to create a true feeling of zen and relaxation. You’ll love the calming sound of its refined and delicate leaves rustling in the breeze!

Where to buy Red Bamboo

If you’re convinced that this bamboo species is a great choice for your home, you can buy Red Bamboo at your local nursery. Sometimes this may not be available to you so online shops can come to the rescue. 

Have you grown Red Bamboo in your garden? What issues have you encountered, and how did you deal with them? Let us know!
Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider

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