There are a number of different factors that are involved in choosing bamboo plants that can best suit your location and needs.
Doing a bit of planning in advance can help to ensure that you plant the best bamboo for your individual needs.
There is an endless number of different uses for bamboo, in all of the various forms that it comes in: screens, hedges, open groves, stand-alone, striking specimen plants, accents plants inside pots on a patio or deck, ground covers, low variegated borders, an interesting entryway, or a tunnel.
However, the most popular way that bamboo is used by far is for evergreen hedges and fast-growing privacy screens. Since bamboo is among the fastest-growing plants in the world, bamboo hedges and screens can be made more inexpensively and quickly than other trees or plants. Nearly any species may be used to create effective screening since it will grow to whatever height you want in the space you are able to allow for it, and given the fact that it is matched properly to your growing conditions and climate.
Selection all comes down to purpose and personal taste. There is an incredible variety of different bamboos to choose from. There are canes that have small or large diameters, stripes, colores, canes that are hidden by foliage, exposed canes. Keep in mind that leaves can be variegated and striped, white or yellow with green, thin and long, wide and large, or delicate and very small. Their growth habit might be airy or dense, arching at the top, weeping, wide and bushy, or narrow and vertical.
Remember that the young plants you buy may not show variegation and colors or any other special traits immediately. Those features start becoming more prominent after one or two years. Also, some features might only appear in certain conditions. For example, purple and red culms of some species only come out when direct sunlight hits the actual canes on a consistent basis.
Cold-hardiness This is the lowest temperature that the root system of each of the species is able to tolerate for 2-3 nights at once. Generally, the cold-hardiness rating represents the root death threshold. Temperatures that are near this rating might kill the tops or entire canes, which will cause them to turn a beige colour. Dead canes won’t produce new leaves. However, if the roots are able to survive, new shoots (or young culms) will be produced by the bamboo when shooting season starts.
The best thing to do is choose bamboos that can tolerate temperatures that are well under the lowest temperatures that the area has experienced over the past 10 years in order to ensure the long-term health of the plants. Temperatures that are somewhat less cold might only cause loss of leaves and leaf burn. If the canes do not get damaged, then new leaves will start budding out again after the weather starts to warm up. Placing a really deep mulch on top of the bamboo during the fall can considerably expand its cold-hardiness.
There are some bamboos that suffer from heat in the summer instead of the cold and are not able to tolerate daytime temperature that exceeds 100 degrees F and hotter on a regular basis or hot summer nights (hotter than 70 degrees F).
For example, some Chusqueas and most Fargesias don’t do very well in those conditions.
They are mainly mountain bamboos, which have evolved for the cold weather instead of hot temperatures.
Ideal shade tolerance and sun exposure parameters are a significant factor that you should consider when selecting bamboo. Compare the number of hours worth of direct sunlight that your bamboo plants will get, and the part of the day they are going to be in the sun. The coolest sunlight is in the morning, while afternoon sun might be hotter, and in dry, hot climates is particularly harsh.
Climbing Rhizome or Running Type
Another factor is the type of root (rhizome) of each of the bamboos. Take into consideration all of the pros and cons of runners and clumpers for your situation. For example, clumpers have a tendency to spread wide at a slower rate but tend to grow tall more quickly and do not need a root barrier to contain them. On the other hand, runners have a tendency to quickly spread wide and form screens and are also less expensive. However, they usually need containment like planter boxes or a root barrier.
Diameter and Height
The maximum diameter and height that is reached by each of the species of bamboo in their original climate should be notes as well. They are provided as “known reference points,” but the diameter and height are affected by all of the different aspects of your climate and growing situation: size of the growing area, how long the growing season is, the amount of water that is supplied, aridity/humidity, shade/sun exposure, as well as the high and low temperatures, etc.
There is a correlation between diameter and height. With a 15 foot tall plant, you won’t have a 3-4 inch diameter culm. Those diameters are achieved by species that grow 30-50 in height. Generally speaking, the culms are thinner the short the bamboo is.