Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words. "How fast will my bamboo grow?" -Answered.

"How fast will my bamboo grow?"

Of all the questions I get asked when someone is considering bamboo, this is the #1 question.

The answer to this question is of course, like most things in our world, is full of variables, uncertainties and other factors that no one can predict with true certainty.  With plants, there are factors that are somewhat controllable -  like the amount of water you can apply through modern irrigation or soil conditions that are also somewhat controllable or at least can be amended to a desired condition.  Also, you can certainly generalize that a running bamboo will grow quicker than a clumping bamboo.

Others factors are very unpredictable, totally out of our control as gardeners, and sometimes downright frustrating - variable weather conditions such as 60 degrees and overcast one week and then 90 plus and sunny skies, the next.  In Northern California, we experienced weather conditions that were unusual, cool, wet conditions up through June.  With bamboo, it was a mixed blessing - less growth due to lower soil temperatures, but rainwater does plants alot of good - refreshing leaves and greening the plants.

So, with so many variables at play - its hard to provide a standard answer to this perplexing question - 'How fast will my bamboo grow?"

So, with the uncertainty this question brings and the difficulty in explaining 'how fast bamboo grows", I always love to show before and after photos of different types of bamboo.  This particular set of photos came from Mark from Sacramento who planted Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo' in early June 2010.

June 2010 (Before)

June 2011 (After)

A picture (or pictures) is worth a thousand words, bottomline and generally speaking, the advantage of bamboo is that you can expect faster growth than an average hedge plant, even with the tamer, slower-growing clumping bamboo,  and even with the unpredictability that gardening can bring.


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Dave Gardner said...

Nice dramatic photo of how fast the bamboo will grow. I've loved bamboo ever since I lived for 12 years on Guam and traveled throughout the Eastern Asia and the Pacific. I'd love to get some bamboo growing in my backyard to recreate the "tropical" vision I'd like for my yard. But I've heard stories about how notorious bamboo is for taking over the yard. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how to *control* a stand of bamboo--to allow it to grow tall, but not spread throughout the yard?

Mad Man Bamboo Nursery said...

You need to discover clumping bamboo, cousin of the infamous running bamboo you speak of. These are clumping bamboo pictured above. Drop me an e-mail at and I'd be happy to offer some recommendations with photos. Thanks Dave. Sean

Rochelle French said...

When I look out my window, I'm always "treated" to the sight of my neighbor's leaf-covered, decaying composition roof over their workshop. I'd love to see green! I'd been wary of bamboo, after hearing it spreads, but "clumping" bamboo sounds like it won't take over my yard. Thanks for the post and the before and after pictures!