How to Grow Bamboo – Phyllostachys

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Phyllostachys–commonly called bamboo–is an evergreen giant grass grown for its upright culms (hollow stems) and yellow-green or light to dark green, narrowly lance-shaped leaves. Phyllostachys are suitable for containers outdoors, as specimen plants, or in groups along with other shrubs in a border.

Phyllostachys are valued for their elegant form and foliage; some are colored yellow and others black. The culms (hollow stems) are often grooved and zig-zag from node to node. Phyllostachys can be grown in full sun or dappled shade and prefer humus-rich soil.

Phyllostachys is a genus of 80 species of medium-sized to large, evergreen bamboos. There are two types of bamboo, clump-forming and running. Running bamboos spread via underground rhizomes and can become very difficult to contain. Clump-forming bamboos spread–usually a few inches a year; they are the most suitable bamboos for gardens.

A related bamboo genus is Bambusa.

Get to know Phyllostachys

  • Plant type: Evergreen bamboos; members of the grass family (Poaceae)
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5-11 depending on the variety
  • Hardiness:
  • Height and width: 6 to 35 feet (2-11m) depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Narrowly lance-shaped yellow green or light to dark green leaves
  • Uses: Border, screen, container plant
  • Common name: Bamboo
  • Botanical name: Phyllostachys
  • Family name: Poaceae
  • Origin: Woodlands in East Asia and the Himalays
Leaves of golden bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea
Leaves of golden bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea

Where to plant Phyllostachys

  • Light outdoors: Grow Phyllostachys in full sun or dappled shade.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow in fertile, humus-rich, but well-drained soil.

When to plant Phyllostachys

  • Set Phyllostachys outdoors in spring.

Planting and spacing Phyllostachys

  • Space Phyllostachys 6 to 20 feet (2-6m) apart.

How to water and feed Phyllostachys

  • Water Phyllostachys regularly and moderately.
  • Fertilize Phyllostachys with a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.

Phyllostachys care

  • Where not hardy, shelter Phyllostachys from cold, drying winds.

Phyllostachys pests and diseases

  • Slugs and snails attack emerging shoots.
  • Rust and stem smut can occur.

Phyllostachys propagation

  • Divide Phyllostachys in spring.
Leaves and stems of moso bamboo plants, Phyllostachys edulis
Leaves and stems of moso bamboo plants, Phyllostachys edulis

Phyllostachys varieties to grow

  • Phyllostachys aurea, golden bamboo. Clump-forming, stiffly, upright bamboo grows 6 to 30 feet tall; grooved culms (hollow stems) are bright-mid-green early and become brown yellow with age; narrowly lance-shaped yellowis to golden green leaves.
  • P. aureosulcata, yellow-groove bamboo. Clump-forming bamboo grows 10 to 20 feet tall; brownish green culms with yellow grooves and striped sheaths; narrowly lance-shaped mid-green leaves.
  • P. bambusoides, giant timber bamboo. Clump-forming; grows 10 to 25 feet; thick shiny deep green culms and large thick sheaths; narrowly lance-shaped mid-green leaves.
  • P. fulcis, sweetshoot bamboo. Upright, mid-green culms grow to 40 feet; narrowly lance-shaped mid-green leaves.
  • P. flexuosa, zigzag bamboo. Arching culms, often zigziagged between nodes; grows to 30 feet ; bright geen at first, turning yellow-brown to almost black with age; narrowly lance-shaped fresh green leaves.
  • P. nidularia, swollen node bamboo. Clump formng bamboos grows to 35 feet, broadly lance-shaped, smooth green leaves.
  • P. nigra, black bamboo. Clump-forming to 10 feet tall; arching slender green culms turn lustrus black in second year; lance-shaped dark green leaves.
  • P. violascens. Clump-forming then spreading bamboo wiht swollen green clums, grow to 16 feet; finely striped purple become violet; narrow, lances-shaped dark green leaves.
  • P. viridi-glaucescens. arching, smooth green clums grow to 40 feet; broadly, lance=-shaped, mid-green leaves.
  • P. vivax. Upright culms to 70 feet tall; smooth mid-green culms with a white powdery band beneath each nodes.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Bambusa — Bamboo

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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