I detest bamboo !!! I wasted a whole week and wrecked my back, digging it out of my mother inlaws backyard. That stuff is a horrible weed.
It is true. Melbourne has been cursed with the highly invasive Golden Bamboo for many decades now. If it is planted with no boundaries it will fulfil its duties to invade the whole area. However this is a good looking indestructible plant, fantastic for screening or even a stand alone specimen plant in just about any conditions. If planted in a controlled area and inspected every few months for rhizomes escaping, you will not have any problems with it. Clumping variety bamboos are just that, they form a clump and do not run away. Over several years several bamboo enthusiasts have imported these clumping varieties from all over the world. Many people do not understand that there is such a bamboo plant that is non invasive. In fact, clumping bamboo is far less intrusive than most trees and shrubs that are planted in any garden. Bamboo has a fine surface root system that will not seek out drain pipes and block them.
Bamboo is a tropical plant isn’t it?
There are over 1200 varieties of bamboo throughout the world, they grow from very cold temperate climates to the hot tropics. Most of the cold growing varieties are running types. There are not a lot of clumping varieties which will thrive in this climate. It takes several years of trialling a plant before we will begin selling it.
What variety should I grow?
Melbourne’s climate certainly does not suit most bamboos, so local knowledge is extremely important in choosing a plant. Many varieties that grow well in New South Wales or Queensland will not perform here in Victoria and will ultimately die.
Why is bamboo so expensive?
Bamboo very rarely produces seed, so most propagation procedures are by division or culm cuttings, both which are labour intensive and slow to achieve a successful result.
Does bamboo need a lot of care?
Once planted in the right position and made sure of adequate moisture and nutrition for the first few months, the plant can be cared for like any other garden plant. A quick tidy up of shabby older culms is recommended to keep up the best appearance.
My neighbours have recently built a huge house which overlooks mine, how can I keep them from prying?
Bamboo is an excellent screening plant for that situation. Semi mature plants can be purchased and can screen them off instantly, or if you have some patience smaller younger plants can be planted and after one or two seasons the job will be complete. With its small foot print and rapid growth, nothing else compares.
Growing bamboo indoors
What a nice effect; a beautiful bamboo plant to compliment your home décor.
I have no direct experience with growing bamboo or any other plant indoors but I do listen to others with experience and ask questions and call on my many years in the nursery industry.
I do not recommend growing bamboo indoors. Yes, it can be done but there is a long list of conditions which must be kept in some kind of balance.
Things to consider:
Light: lots of natural light, but not direct sun through glass.
Soil: an open mix which holds moisture and nutrients.
Watering: very difficult to retain the right amount of moisture content in the soil. Over watering will damage a plant quickly, drying out will damage it even quicker.
Humidity: indoors in Melbourne is usually dry air. Bamboo loves high humidity.
Air flow: an open window nearby is very beneficial
Bugs: thrive on an indoor plant. Spider mite, scale, mealy bug, etc.
Grow at your own will!
This would have to be the most miss-understood plant in Australia.
“Bamboo; it’s such a curse, do not even think about planting it, it will invade the whole garden, lift up the driveway and you will never be able to get rid of it”. This is the belief of many nurserymen and gardeners, and yes it is true for one family of bamboo which has been a resident of Australia for the last 80 or so years.
Welcome the new kid on the block, clumping bamboo, yes it does clump, just like mondo grass, after all they are both grasses. Most clumping bamboo are tropical plants but there is a good range which perform well in the southern areas of Australia. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world; even in these cooler climates they can grow a staggering amount over a twelve month period. Bamboo is an expensive plant; this is due to the difficulty and time in propagating. It can take three years for a plant to be saleable in a 200mm pot. From a 200 mm pot at 1 mt tall it can grow an astonishing amount over its first summer (up to 5mt height) and will almost grow to its peak after another year.
Bamboo does not present well in a small nursery container, it is usually very ‘leggy’ with not a lot of bush, but with a tight bundle of fibrous roots. The roots develop early to provide the energy for the phenomenal amount of growth in the following season.
Having such a tight mass of roots creates a problem with transplanting.
The problem is that they can dehydrate very quickly so they need more attention to watering than other plants. They sometimes need daily watering directly onto the root ball for the first few weeks from planting; this must be kept up until the new roots grow into the surrounding soil. Once the roots are established into the soil, the plant is no less water dependent than other plants, although for best results it is advisable to keep the soil moist with frequent feeds of high nitrogenous fertilizer.
The best bamboo which fits most situations is bambusa textilis Gracilis. It is a very fast grower which can reach 6mt tall in two seasons and has the classic bamboo’look’. It is so versatile; it can screen out a two story building or it can be kept at 2mt tall by pruning.
So for you next unique garden, have a look at bamboo. If you’re not sure which variety to use, seek some advice.