12 Different Types of Bamboo For Your Climate & Gardens

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by Max - last update on April 2, 2020, 2:04 am
Types of Bamboo

Bamboos, though they may look like trees, are actually a perennial type of plant belonging to the grass family (Poaceae). They are considered to be some of the fastest growing plants in the world, and though they have a reputation for being difficult to control and sometimes invasive, these plants actually have a lot of benefits to offer.

They are elegant plants, with many types being prized for their ornamental look. They are also easy to care for, make excellent privacy screens, and their quick growth means they are great for impatient gardeners who want a plant that will make a big impact in their yard in a short space of time. This list of some of the best types of bamboo will help to ensure you get the bamboo, which is best for your climate and personal requirements.

12 Types of Bamboos

1. Buddha Belly Bamboo

Buddha Belly Bamboo

Scientific Name: Bambusa ventricosa

Mature Size: Up to 55 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-12

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Fertile, well-draining

Special Features: Decorative stems

This bamboo is native to China and gets its common name from its lumpy internodes, which resemble the bulging belly of Buddha. It is popularly used as an ornamental plant in containers and enjoys consistently moist and fertile soil. However, for the plant's culm bulges to become exaggerated, it needs to be kept without fertilizer or in dry soil. It is a tropical plant that needs to be grown in temperate climates, though it can be kept indoors in cooler regions. It is a non-invasive type of bamboo and can be well utilized as a living privacy screen.


2. Giant Bamboo

Giant Bamboo

Scientific Name: Dendrocalamas giganteus

Mature Size: Up to 100 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, rich

Special Features: Huge canes

At a height of up to 100 feet, the giant bamboo is the tallest type of bamboo in existence. It has chunky, sturdy culms that can measure up to one foot in circumference. These canes start out with a chalky white residue covering them, but as they age, they take on a faded dark blue through to pale green color. It grows incredibly quickly, producing shoots that are able to grow 12 inches in just one day. It is native to Thailand, Burma, and China, and flowers just once every four decades.


3. Umbrella Bamboo

Umbrella Bamboo

Scientific Name: Fargesia murielae

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Light: Partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Moisture retentive

Special Features: Winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society

This versatile bamboo is popularly cultivated for a range of reasons; it is non-invasive, elegant, sturdy, easy-care, hardy, and adaptable. It features green-yellow canes from which slender, narrow leaves are produced. The foliage has a dainty look, and is bright green on top, while gray-green on the underside. The canes, as they grow, gently arc from the weight of their foliage, but do not snap or need staking. This bamboo grows quickly and has a clump-forming habit, typically spreading to around four or five feet in width. It likes to be grown in partial shade, as direct sun can cause the leaves to shrivel up.


4. Dragon Head Bamboo

Dragon Head Bamboo

Scientific Name: Fargesia rufa

Mature Size: Up to 8 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Special Features: Attractive foliage

This is the type of bamboo which is loved as a primary food source for the Giant Panda. If you don’t have a panda to feed, grow this plant for its graceful aesthetic. It features shiny green canes that arch slightly as they age under the weight of their foliage. Foliage is blue-green, narrow, and glossy, with each leaf measuring around four inches in length. Native to China, this plant can be propagated easily from stem cuttings or division.

It grows in a wide range of soils so long as they retain moisture well and will thrive in a combination of sun and shade. Ideally, the shade would be offered during the afternoon when the sun is at its most intense. This plant has been the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society and can be grown in containers, borders, or to create privacy screening.


5. Chinese Fountain Bamboo

Chinese Fountain Bamboo

Scientific Name: Fargesia nitida

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Light: Partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Moisture retentive

Special Features: Suitable for most soil types

This elegant plant features long and slender canes that arch heavily under the weight of their foliage. Canes are medium green with patches of flushed purple, forming clumps of up to five feet across. The foliage of this bamboo is long and narrow, with a matte surface in a dark shade of gray-green. This tough and reliable plant can tolerate severe cold and does not like excessive heat. It fares best in a partially shaded position and requires less sunlight to thrive than most other bamboo plants. It will grow in a wide range of soil types, including poorly draining and soggy soil, making it suitable for planting along riverbanks, near ponds, and streams.


6. Fish Pole Bamboo

Fish Pole Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys aurea

Mature Size: Up to 25 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Special Features: Tolerant of heat and drought

The smooth and straight canes of this plant have earned it the common name of ‘fish pole bamboo.’ The canes are evergreen, starting out bright medium green, but dulling to a pale yellow-green with maturity. The canes are sturdy, tough, and relentlessly remain upright without arching. The plant has a vigorous growth habit, growing up to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It is cold hardy, tolerant of heat and drought, though it prefers to grow in moist soil. When kept in dry conditions, the plant will form clumps; however, in moist soil and warm temperatures, it can become invasive.

The fish pole bamboo plant has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It is native to China, where its silky canes have been used to make walking sticks and handles for umbrellas.


7. Japanese Timber Bamboo

Japanese Timber Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys bambusoides

Mature Size: Up to 70 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Special Features: Cultivated for use as timber

Despite being native to China, this plant is commonly known as Japanese timber bamboo, because it is widely cultivated in Japan, and harvested for use as timber. The canes of this bamboo are glossy and smooth. They emerge in a stunning shade of rich emerald green, fading to yellow-green as they age. T

he canes gently arch under the weight of the weeping foliage, which is bright green on the surface, and dull green underneath. Each leaf can measure up to seven inches long and takes a broader shape than most bamboo plants. Due to its clumping habit and its thick canes, which can measure up to six inches across, this plant makes a good privacy screen or living fence. It prefers rich, moist, well-draining soil, though it can become invasive in ideal conditions such as these.


8. Hedge Bamboo

Hedge Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys glauca

Mature Size: Up to 25 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Special Features: Drought tolerant

This vigorous evergreen bamboo is notable for its glowing turquoise canes, which are a result of bright green culms shrouded in blue-gray powder. This stunning effect is only present in younger plants, as the powder is lost with age, and the canes fade to a yellow-green. Each cane measures around two inches in width, with an upright growth habit. It prefers warm climates where it grows quickly, though, in cooler weather, the growth will halt. This is not an invasive species but will spread gradually to form a small bamboo orchard, up to 20 feet wide.


9. Black Bamboo

Black Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys nigra

Mature Size: Up to 25 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Rich, well-draining

Special Features: Striking canes

This unusual bamboo produces slender upright canes, which are olive green when young They quickly start to develop into a marbled brown color before becoming entirely black in around two to three years. All of the canes of the plant will go through color development at slightly different types, giving a multi-colored effect when viewed as a whole. The canes of this bamboo measure approximately two inches across, and have a smooth and glossy surface. Once black, the canes are a stark contrast to the foliage of the plant, which is a bright glossy green.

This stunning plant is valued as an ornamental plant and has won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Black bamboo has a vigorous growth habit and could potentially become invasive in hot, humid, and moist conditions. It will work well as a privacy hedge, as an ornamental plant, and in container gardens (Royal Horticultural Society).


10. Green-Glaucous Bamboo

Green-Glaucous Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens

Mature Size: Up to 30 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Special Features: Striped culms

This bamboo grows easily and spreads in a dense habit to form a grove. Due to this quality, it works exceptionally well as a privacy screen or an informal living fence. The canes of this plant emerge in a deep shade of emerald green, developing to lime green with age and eventually maturing to a golden yellow-green. The canes are striped with white at the nodes, giving them a unique patterned effect.

The foliage of this plant is medium green, long and broad. Each leaf typically measures around seven inches in length. It prefers well-draining and moist soil, though it can sometimes become invasive in ideal conditions.


11. Moso Bamboo

Moso Bamboo

Scientific Name: Phyllostachys edulis

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Fertile, well-draining

Special Features: Majestic silhouette

This statuesque plant is noted for its striking elegance and majestic appeal. It grows to around 60 feet in height, making it the world's tallest type of hardy bamboo. The culms are very thick and robust, with a width of up to eight inches. These canes, unusually, are blanketed in a fine covering of soft, velvety hair. The canes start out dark green, then becoming yellow-green, and finally settling on orange-yellow. The foliage of the plant is a stark contrast to the great size of its culms, as the leaves are notably small, measuring up to three inches long.  

Moso bamboo enjoys warm and moist conditions, where it can grow aggressively to the point of becoming a problem species. However, in cooler climates, its growth spread will be stunted. This plant is native to East Asia, and it is cultivated throughout Japan and China for the production of paper.


12. Painted Bamboo

Painted Bamboo

Scientific Name: Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’

Mature Size: Up to 60 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-12

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Fertile, well-draining

Special Features: Patterned canes

This is popular ornamental bamboo, which is prized for the vertical stripes on its culms. It has pale golden canes which have various sized deep green striped markings in random patterns between each node. Painted bamboo typically grows between 40 and 60 feet tall, gently arching with age under the weight of the foliage. Long and narrow leaves measure up to seven inches long. This is a non-invasive species that has a strong and complex root system, which makes it useful for erosion control.



12 Different Types of Bamboo For Your Climate & Gardens

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