Nature landscape view of a bamboo tunnel with natural light

How To Train Or Tether Bamboo Plants

Have you ever seen those beautiful tropical archways in the movies? Where the plants themselves are woven together to make beautiful sculptures. Or maybe you’ve even seen bamboo at your local store that has been braided into a beautiful mini screen and wondered, “How do they do that?”

Training and tethering your bamboo plants is how! There are simple steps that can help you form your plants into beautiful designs. These procedures are very effective for certain species of bamboo.

Here, I’ll be giving you a step-by-step guide that’ll help you get the bamboo of your dreams. I’ll also be mentioning the perfect time for this activity and how long it’ll take you.

What are the benefits of tethering my bamboo?

Certain bamboo species tend to weep or bend when they are not exposed to direct sunlight. Bamboo training and tethering can help to avoid or amend these tendencies.

It can also help you make beautiful, eco-friendly archways and screens that’ll give your environment a true, unique definition.

When should you start training your bamboo?

The shooting season may not be the best time to start tethering your plants. Tethering these new shoots too early can cause damage to them. Once grown though, bamboo training and tethering can be done at any time of the year.

What bamboo species need training/tethering?

Some tall bamboo species, such as Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo) and Phyllostachys aureosulcata (Yellow Bamboo Grove), need tethering to straighten up.

This is because these species tend to bend over naturally. However, these will be great for those beautiful overgrown pathways or tunnels.

Best running bamboo for pathways and driveways

Certain bamboo species create amazing pathways. You can even tether them into different shapes to create a stunning tunnel.

If you want to build a driveway tunnel, you should pick a tall variety. If you’re only building a pathway tunnel, you can pick one of those mid-sized species.

Keep in mind these runners are very invasive which means you have to maintain them regularly. To prevent it from taking over the whole property or neighboring land, you should install and maintain barriers.

Blue chungii (Tropical Blue Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40 ft (12 m)
  • Diameter: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-7°C)
  • Light: Full sun to shade

Blue Chungii is an attractive bamboo that’s great for creating pathways. The color of this bamboo will surely improve the look of your landscape. Blue Chungii is a tall bamboo with vibrant foliage.

This species can withstand temperatures as low as 20°F, and it doesn’t require much maintenance. If you are looking for bamboo that’s impressive and perfect for creating pathways, then you should consider this tropical blue bamboo.

Bambusa ventricosa (Buddha’s Belly)

  • Average height: 40-55 ft (12-17 m)
  • Diameter: 2.25 inches (6 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-12
  • Hardiness: 18°F (-8°C)
  • Light: Sun to shade

This bamboo is definitely unique. Just like its name suggests, it has internodes that swell when the plant is under stress. Buddha’s Belly is easy to grow and its tiny leaves are impressive.

There’s a but! This bamboo cannot withstand frost. If you’re living in a frosty region, this may not be the best option for you.

Green culms of a Vivax bamboo variety
Green Vivax (Source: Flickr)

Phyllostachys vivax (Chinese Timber Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40-70 ft (12-21 m)
  • Diameter: 5 inches (13 cm)
  • USDA zones: 6-10
  • Hardiness: -5°F (−20°C)
  • Light: Full sun to shade

This is an amazing bamboo. You’ll love adding it to your landscape. It has beautiful golden stems and it can get up to 70 ft in good growing conditions.

It’s a quick-growing plant that requires a lot of space. It doesn’t grow upright and the culms tend to bend more than others. It’s a good idea to use root barriers to contain its growth, as it is a running bamboo.

Best clumping bamboo for arches and arching elements

For your pathways or arches, you need bamboo that grows upright and spreads slowly. You don’t want an aggressive bamboo that’ll take over your whole garden. These clumping bamboos don’t spread as fast and are a safer option for people who can’t perform regular maintenance tasks.

Slender tall culms of the Bambusa textilis variety with green foliage
Bambusa textilis weavers bamboo

Bambusa textilis gracilis (Weaver’s Bamboo)

  • Average height: 30-40 ft (9-12 m)
  • Diameter: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-6°C)
  • Light: Full sun

This is a great option for driveways. Weaver’s Bamboo is medium-sized with evergreen foliage and straight, vibrant yellowish-green culms. This is a fast-growing species, so you can expect to have a well-grown plant in as little as three years!

It is a non-invasive species that grows in tight clumps and is tolerant to most conditions, even the frigid cold. It is perfect for privacy screens, weaving and even does well growing in containers.

Lower part of the green stems of Bambusa oldhamii
Bambusa oldhamii (Photo source: Flicker)

Bambusa oldhamii (Giant Timber Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40-65 ft (12-20 m)
  • Diameter: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 8-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-6°C)
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade

This is a giant bamboo plant that makes an amazing archway if trained properly. It is a clumping bamboo so you can use it on driveways as well.

The clumps of this bamboo grow tightly together and it has lush green foliage. But this bamboo requires a lot of attention in its first year. You’ll need to water it generously and fertilize it appropriately. Oldhamii grows best in full sun and its height makes it a good catch for enormous pathways.

Bambusa lako (Timor Black Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40 ft (12 m)
  • Diameter: 3 inches (8 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9b-11
  • Hardiness: 28°F (-4°C)
  • Light: Full sun

Bambusa Lako is one of the most common black bamboos. It is a clumping black bamboo that starts off green, maturing into glossy black culms and light green leaves.

This bamboo has straight erect culms, making it perfect for driveways. Timor Black thrives in full sun and can get up to 70 feet if given the right growing conditions.

How to train and tether your bamboo plants

There are many different ways to tether these plants to get different shapes and sizes. These steps need to be followed closely if you want to be successful.

Amazing stone walkway through bamboo woods with the text: How to Train Bamboo for Bamboo Tunnels

How to straighten your bamboo plants

As part of your care procedures, you may want to train your bamboo to stay upright. Or you might have younger bamboo plants of certain species that tend to lean over. Here, we’ll explain a few methods to straighten out your young and old plants quickly and safely.

1. Using stakes

To keep your bamboo culms straight, you’ll support them with stakes (wooden or metal). To do this, drive stakes to the ground, and attach your plant to the stake. You can attach the stakes using a soft material. Leave them like this for a few months. They’ll support your plant and get them upright.

2. Trimming

If just the top of certain culms is leaning, trimming the top of these culms can help to keep them upright. Most times, these culms lean over because the top part becomes too heavy.

3. Tie them up

Tethering the weeping bamboo culms to other canes can be very helpful. You can even encircle the entire grove with a rope. This is the simplest way to straighten your bamboo plant.

How to tether your bamboo plant to create pathways

You can use certain tethering methods to create bamboo pathways or even exotic driveways.

Unique tropical archways can be created by crossing and wrapping the top of the culms together. Once you’ve crossed a few, other new growing culms will be directed along the same path.

Amazing winding road among green bamboo woods
Scenic road through the forest

How to control the height of your bamboo plant

If you want your bamboo to get to its maximum possible height, you’ll need to train your plant to encourage growth.

  1. Remove the old, dead, and overcrowded canes, this will help to boost airflow and plant health.
  2. During the shooting season, when you notice new shoots are emerging. Break off the smaller shoots so you can get the larger ones growing faster.
  3. Encourage bamboo growth by providing your plants with adequate water, fertilizer, light, and soil.

If you want to train your bamboo to look shorter and prettier, follow these procedures:

  1. Cut off the shoots that are much thicker than you desire. Only allow the growth of thinner shoots to grow.
  2. Topping is a pruning method where you remove the upper portion of the culm. Once you’ve topped your bamboo plants, they’ll maintain that height throughout their lifetime.
Have you used any of these tethering methods? Did we leave any questions unanswered? Let us know in the comments!
Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: Natalie Schneider

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