Bamboo in SoCal

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Stephen
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Bamboo in SoCal

Postby Stephen » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:20 pm

I thought I'd ask a couple of questions for those with Bamboo experience.

1. Where did you buy your bamboo plants? (I've heard good things about Bamboo HQ in Vista)

2. Anyone have experience with a 10-18ft upright variety? I'm thinking Golden Goddess. How far apart did you plant them?

3. Looking for something else that's shorter and super upright....max of 10ft tall. Any ideas?
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Postby Luka » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:26 pm

We had bamboo, it was installed by a previous owner and unfortunately they did not build a containment system so it began to spread and spread and spread. It pushed up pavers, a wooden deck and was just a general nuisance. I love the look but my advice would be to make absolute sure you have an underground containment system in place.

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Postby Joe » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:46 pm

contain contain contain!!

I have a 70 foot bed. I built my bed to contain it, based on books and articles in the web. didn't work. I think mine is golden bamboo. 16-20 ft high. very messy. drops leaves all year around.

if I were to do it over, I would not have gone with that much bamboo.

when you start getting runners outside your bed, I'll share my tricks for killing them :?

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Postby egads » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:56 pm

Oh man, and was ready for bed, but here it goes:

I have bamboo in a couple of places. I did go down and visit Bamboo HQ, looked at everything, picked their brain and then never bought from them. Mostly because I found the varieties I was interested in at Home Depot. (HD was the dumping ground of a couple of major commercial nurseries that went out of business)

Bamboo comes in two main groups, clumping and running. Anything with a botanical name starting with Phyllostachys is running. It must have a barrier. That is a lot of work. The barrier I used is 2' deep. So yes, the Mrs. and I dug out an area 2.5 X 20' to get the barrier in. I also used about 20 bags of expensive soil amendment and peat. That area has Black bamboo. The barrier has to stick up above the soil line. So far, that has not "taken off" The thing about bamboo is, it can take a couple of years before it starts putting out shoots that are normal to the species. You cannot judge what it will be like from the container. (thus the trip to HQ) Running bamboos are the only ones that grow really upright. So if you really want that bamboo look, running is the way to go.

In another area I have a row of clumping. That species name starts with Bambusa. I have the entire side in bambusa multiplex "Alphonse Karr" It has green stripes and should have canes that are 3/4. It's been in a little longer, sent out a lot of shoots last spring. (I just removed everything that was old. Filled up 6 trash cans. Keeping bamboo looking good is work. But as they will tell you at HQ, you can always cut it back.

Running bamboo has soft shoots that they say you can just cut off. In fact, if one's soil is not well drained, they recommend one only place the barrier on three sides and then run a shovel down the open side once or twice a year. There is a large apt complex in the SFV that someone once planted a ton of bamboo and it is kept in check by being next to lawn that is regularly mowed.

Clumping bamboo sounds innocent enough, but it can be much more difficult to dig out if that kind of control is needed. It is also strong enough to bust it's way out of a confined area. I'm sure that, in ten years, I will have to remove all the clumping, divide it and put some back to control it. That and trimming at least once a year. (through trimming, not week to week grooming)

Joe is right about the mess. It is best if it can be in a place that can just take the leaves. In fact, bamboo wants to have a thick mulch of leaves at it's base. But the do blow all over the place. And unlike some leaves, they are hard to sweep. They stick in cracks.

The giant timber kind, is all over Disneyland. But they have a maintenance budget. I have one giant still in a pot that I have only one place it can be as tall as it will be. I also have three bambusa multiplex "fernleaf" It seems to drape down and I would only recommend it in a pot. (mine is coming out of the ground I think.)

Another good one for a pot is Buddha Belly. It is a real mess in the ground, but very showy in a container.

All bamboos are grasses. They like lawn food and lots of water. And look best groomed. I'm ecstatic at how good the mess I had a couple of weeks ago looks now. So if one is not a gardener, if one likes thing really neat, look at something else.

For an area that one does not need extreme height, look at Heavenly Bamboo. It is not a real bamboo, but will give you the look without the headache. Two points: If you want height, be careful not to get one of the newer shorter varieties. And never let a uneducated gardener near them. There is only one way to trim them. You cut off an unwanted cane to the ground. But you will see them trimmed like hedges. It pains me and they look ridiculous. But the color they produce in the fall is killer. Red berries too.

If one wants height in a narrow space with a tropical look, plant some Podocarpus macrophyllus. This can also be trimmed as a hedge, but looks much more tropical if left natural. This is an easy care choice for screening.

Here's a bamboo link I found very informative:

http://www.endangeredspecies.com/

They have galleries of their installed projects and other planted bamboo they have found in Southern California.

And I do intend to buy something from HQ, they were really wonderful folks. But I shamelessly put cheap bamboo on my HD credit card. It was there and $30. @ five gallon.

I also found the barrier really cheap online. I even have enough left over for someone else's project. If interested, I'll find and post that link. I think I paid $130. including shipping for 150'

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Postby Stephen » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:17 am

Thanks for the copious info. Sadly, HD no longer has deals on bamboo (at least near me).

I've really got two areas I'm thinking of:

1. Back wall of my property. This is by the pool has a block wall backing. I need something at least 10 feet to completely screen out the neighbors but no more than 18 feet or I run into power lines. Mess isn't too big of a deal since I have a pool service. I'm not obsessed with bamboo, but I'm thinking cost, height, and speed of privacy. I can probably have something with 5 feet of width and it would be fine. So it doesn't have to super upright.

2. Courtyard -- Originally I wanted to keep things low and expose the block wall and fence. Now I'm rethinking that as I want the courtyard to have a more secluded feel. The wall and fence are 6 feet and jsut not quite tall enough. From my living room I see the fascia board of my neighbor's garage and the street on the other side of the fence is just a little bit higher. In this application I really do need something pretty upright and ideally I'd like something 8ft tall or hedge trimmable. I'd also like something not too messy as I've got a gravel / paver patio and it's not very sweepable.

It's funny you mention Podocarpus Macrophyllus. I sold a house owned by a landscape architect a few months back. He had a plant near his pool that was absolutely amazing. I asked him what it was and he mentioned Podocarpus Henkelii. I've been thinking of something like that.

Partly, I'm afraid of making a mistake with the bamboo and either planting it incorrectly or getting the wrong variety. However. given the barren, exposed area by the pool, I think any plant would be a vast improvement.
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Postby egads » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:07 am

Home depot is still selling the 5 gallon size bamboo for the same price ($30.) However, stock is low. I had to look at every HD I passed, even in west LA and the south bay if my travels took me there. I also got some at Lowes. In any case I would make the decision based on what variety I really wanted rather than what was available. I left Bamboo HQ with a list of what I might want, their height and running/clumping. Having those be available at HD/Lowes was just luck. The problem with bamboo nursery specialists is the small size (affordable) containers are never available. Only the larger more expensive ones. I am such an advocate of letting smaller plants grow into their space rather than instant gratification. It is also hard for a place like HD/Lowes to have the plants around because they die quickly if not watered daily. In any case, as I tried to stress above, having bamboo is a commitment. It's work.

I would suggest trying to find some old Sunset books on landscaping. I know that my old Sunset Western Garden Book had a whole section on planting around pools. (it does not matter if you have a pool service if the filter basket gets clogged in between the times they come)

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Postby Joe » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:12 am

I would be careful planting by a pool. if not contained, runners will penetrate your pool! Also, I hope you like cleaning your pool, because leaves will drop into it year around.

don't depend on your back wall to block either. runners will go under and your neighbor will have unwanted shoots :(
Last edited by Joe on Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ceanothus for Hedge

Postby Josquin » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:25 am


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Postby nichols » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:50 pm

San Gabriel Nursery has a nice variety of bamboo, is family owned and in a mid-century building...

http://sgnurserynews.com/site/

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Postby Joe » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:40 pm


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the post about the podocarpus

Postby modfan » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:25 pm

In my last house I tore out the cape honeysuckle and the oleander and planted podocarpus (the long straight kind not the one that grows into a tree). I moved away in 05 and they were still straight stalks.
Last time I drove by it's finally developed into a hedge.
It was a narrow strip to plant in-not good for cape honeysuckle-you have to trim it all the time and it puts out shoots like bamboo, bamboo wouldn't be good there either.

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Postby spinsLPs » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:31 am


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So

Postby modfan » Thu Jan 28, 2010 2:53 pm

Roundup won't kill it?

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Postby egads » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:14 pm

The San Diego Botanic Garden (formally Quail Gardens) also have a nice collection of Bamboo. And usually a benefit sale in the fall.

http://www.SDBGarden.org/

I also wanted to add a couple of things. My description of the two types above is simplistic in that there are many other Genesis of bamboo. I was just hitting on the main two types one might find in a nursery. Lists online, like the one Bamboo Headquarters has, is far more complete. Or visit the Bamboo society:

http://www.americanbamboo.org/

Also, I wanted to say that, having just trimmed mine, I would not go for a smaller cane because one thinks it will be smaller. The thing is, it's hard to get clippers in and around dense small canes. for instance:

BAMBUSA MULTIPLEX 'GOLDEN GODDESS'

will stay pretty small, but the clump is so dense it's hard to groom.

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Postby jonu » Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:33 pm


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Postby CapitalMod » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:43 pm

Heed Joe's warning- bamboo runs amok if not properly contained. The type that grows here looks great and serves well as a screen. But it is very invasive. My parents' place was overrun from bamboo coming in from the indifferent neighbors. A pick axe and Round Up took care of it, but at a cost of lot of sore muscles and chemical blitzkrieg.

I have read there are types that are not as invasive. Do some research. It looks really cool. Could you restrict it to some concrete planters?


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