There are many species of bamboo plants and many, many cultivars. Often the rarer species can be expensive and quite hard to find.
In this post I’ve featured my own personal favourites, all of which are bamboo plants I have used in gardens over the years. So I can vouch for their garden-worthiness. However, it is always worth planting bamboo with a root barrier so that you don’t have any issues with them spreading further than you want.
Bearing in mind that it is not always easy to source affordable bamboo plants, I have started by highlighting three of the best bamboo plants that are usually readily available in plant nurseries and are not over-expensive.
Links in this post are affiliate links to plant suppliers in the UK and to the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society.
Phyllostachis Nigra – the Black Bamboo, is considered by many to the most beautiful of the bamboos.
Young stems are green, but turn through brown to black as they mature. A fairly slow growing bamboo, without too much tendency to run, Nigra provides a great screen if planted in twos and threes, or a wonderful specimen plant.
- Ultimate height – 2.5-4 metres
- Ultimate spread – 2.5-4 metres
- Hardy down to approx. -15 degrees C
Phyllostachys aureosulcata Spectabilis
Phyllostachys aureosulcata Spectabilis (Yellow Bamboo) is another striking bamboo with yellow culms (stems), often flecked with red.
As the plant matures the stems develop a kink, which adds to the appeal.
Grow for screening or even in pots, but make sure they never dry out.
Fargesia nitida ‘Black Pearl’
Fargesia nitida ‘Black Pearl‘, the Black Stem Umbrella Bamboo, is a dense clump forming bamboo with slender culms and a leafy habit.
As it does not grow as tall as the Phyllostachys species, Fargesia may suit smaller spaces, although they can form dense, tight clumps.
Young stems are green but mature to purple or black. The denseness of the clumps means that they rattle and rustle in the breeze providing another point of interest.
These Fargesia are easy to maintain and provide lasting all round interest in spaces large and small.
Himalayacalamus (Arundinaria) falconeri
I first saw Himalayacalamus (Arundinaria) falconeri at the late Christopher Lloyd’s garden at Great Dixter in East Sussex (UK) and was captivated by the delicate elegance of this bamboo.
Himalayacalamus falconeri has beautiful, slender olive green culms, which are incredibly striking when you prune off the the side shoots from the bottom couple of metres of the plant.
This species is not as hardy as some of the other bamboo plants featured here, and it may not survive beyond -6 degrees C. A heavy mulch in winter may help protect the roots. It is also not very tolerant of wet winter soil, so avoid cold and poorly drained spots.
Martin Cole has been an avid gardener for more than 20 years and loves to talk and write about gardening. In 2006 he was a finalist in the BBC Gardener of the Year competition.
He previously lived in London and Sydney, Australia, where he took a diploma course in Horticultural studies and is now based in North Berwick in Scotland. He founded GardeningStepbyStep.com in 2012. The website is aimed at everybody who has been bitten by the gardening bug and wants to know more.
Gardening Step by Step has been cited by Thompson and Morgan, the UK’s largest mail order plant retailer, as a website that publishes expert gardening content.
Check out my comprehensive step by step guide, with plain language explanations and ultra-useful images and illustrations. This is for you if you love dahlias and want to the best out of the dahlias you grow.