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Bamboo in Snow and Ice

Our cold hardy bamboo does a great job of handling show and ice. Our bamboo is growing all across the country in all 48 continental states. We are located in Alabama and rarely see much ice, let alone snow. On the rare occasion we do it’s exciting for us and we love to take pictures to share.

Alabama Snow – December 8 2017

On this day our nursery saw the earliest snow we have experienced in 54 years. Those in northern states do not understand the joy snow brings to the south, it’s such a rare sight that we rarely get to experience.

Grove of moso and vivax bamboo overlooking wolf creek. Snow covering the ground. Focused on Buddha statue.
Our Moso and Vivax grove tends to do very well in winter weather. Due to the strong Moso culms and massive height they tend to stand well. Since the Vivax has a thinner culm they tend to flex more and are more likely to break. (Although this is rare)

Black stripe bamboo weeping down in background. Rufa bamboo containers in front.
The bamboo weeping in this picture is Black Stripe, similar to the Giant Gray… It has thick foliage high up on the canes and will sometimes the tip will bend to the ground. (Even the 55 footers!)

Grove of moso and vivax bamboo overlooking wolf creek. Snow covering the ground
Groves with less distance between canes tend to accumulate more snow on top of the foliage, causing them to lean. You can see with the Moso/Vivax grove the snow reaches the ground and the canes stay straight. On our thicker Giant Gray (Henon) grove, there was barely any snow on the ground floor!

Snow covered bamboo foliage
Cold hardy bamboos typically stay evergreen even through these rough conditions. This shows how versatile bamboo can be in any climate and landscape!

Ice Covered Bamboo – Winter 2007

Several years ago we took some very cool pictures of bamboo after an ice storm. The photo resolutions are not quite up to today’s standards but they are still awesome! Always allow mother nature to melt the snow and ice. As it melts away the bamboo, in most cases without aid, it will spring back to its original up right position.

Bamboo after ice storm
Throughout our website we will try to pass our love of bamboo on. In doing this we all will make our world a better place for generations to come. When a gardener purchases bamboo from us, we try to tell them everything to expect with their new plants.
Ice shielding bamboo from wind
While it may look like it is hurting the bamboo, this coating will act as an insulation and protect it from wind damage which can cause defoliation of the culms. The ice and snow is a gradual build- up with the bamboo slowly bending to the weight. Always allow it to melt and return to its original position.
Iced bamboo leaning over completely frozen.
Always leave the ice and snow on your bamboo. Never try to shake the bamboo to remove ice and snow build up. This action causes a break in the ice at the leaf stem. When this happens, the weight of the ice on the leaf is too much for the now ice free stem to support. In turn, causing the leaves to fall to the ground. If the shaking action is severe the entire culm ( cane ) will snap like breaking a pencil.
Ice melting from bamboo
You can see the ice melting away here and the bamboo will be just as before.
This page and many others will help you to understand this marvelous plant. Please take time to read Growing Habits where you will find valuable information on how the bamboo will grow and provide your environment with lush foliage for privacy plus a natural habitat for birds.

Find the right bamboo in your climate with our Bamboo Finder, just enter your zip code and search!

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How to winterize bamboo


When growing cold hardy bamboos it is important to protect your plants from freezing. Keeping your bamboo healthy through the winter will bolster strong spring growth. When bamboo freezes this stops the flow of fluid and nutrients causing significant harm. Adequate insulation is key in colder climates, when planting in a container extra effort is necessary. 

New Plantings

During the establishment period (First 1-3 years) is when your bamboo is most vulnerable. Most bamboo once established can weather the winter season without any worries. During the first few years your bamboo is just starting to establish a full colony of underground rhizomes. As your bamboo accrues more biomass, it will stay better insulated through the winter naturally.

Above Ground Containers

Above ground containers do not benefit from the insulation the earth provides, further precautions are required in this case.

It is key to plant into a large container in order to provide more insulation for the rhizomes. Soil warming cables will heat the soil and stop freezing.

When the container is able to freeze, nutrient transfer is impeded and winds can dedicate foliage and cause permanent damage easier.

In-Ground Planting

Ground temperatures are typically warmer than than air which makes it less conducive to freezing. In-Ground plantings generally have a much larger root mass that can endure harsher conditions.

Applying heavy mulch will further prevent drying out and temperature loss.

Covering your plants with “mini” greenhouse tents are ok, however this will block rain from entering, so watering will be necessary.

Additional Tips

  • Cutting back canes will not be any benefit to the health of the plant. Doing so will only reduce productivity next spring.
  • Any type of mulch for this application is fine. Bamboo is not picky and just wants to be warm. Even leaves and pine-straw will do great.
  • Anti-desiccant sprays have been known to work, but is not a substitution for our recommendations.
  • If you bamboo is covered in Ice/Snow it is best to leave it alone and wait for it to melt. Bamboo is very flexible, but shaking the canes at this stage will likely cause a break.

With minimal effort your bamboo will be just fine through the winter. Our bamboo can be planted in most of the USA from zones 5a to 10+. Shop our Cold Hardy Bamboo to start growing your own! Not sure if you live in the right climate zone? Use our brand new Bamboo Finder!




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Bamboo strips found to be the first decimal calculator…

About 9 years ago in 2008, a former student of Tsinghua University in China donated around 2,500 bamboo “strips” containing vast amounts of knowledge and history of China. Included in the bunch was 21 strips containing multiplication tables for simple calculations. They were likely used for trade or land area calculations. The strips were crafted around 2300 years ago and survived the book burning of Qin Shi Huang. Aside from the ‘calculator’, on the strips are around 65 ancient texts with artifacts from the Warring States Period in China.

Guiness Book of World Records recognizes this as the world’s first decimal calculator.

The student noticed the strips starting to decay, after this time the strips were soft like tofu and very fragile. Some had mold forming which would have quickly decayed the strips if not quickly dealt with. With such a vast collection they alone did not have the resources to properly preserve the strips and chose to donate them. A team of 10 people worked for 4 months cleaning the strips day and night.

Some of the strips are still unread and could contain anything, the team really enjoys the excitement of reading them. They now hold meetings on Monday discussing and reading the strips for new artifacts.

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Ford explores joining other car companies in using bamboo

As car companies battle for sustainability models many manufactures are looking at bamboo to replace wood, plastic, and fiberglass in their cars. Ford is exploring adding bamboo to the interior of their cars. While this may be long down the road for ford, companies such as Mercedes, Lexus, BMW and Rolls-Royce already have models with bamboo interiors. Mercedes has a bamboo interior trim upgrade in their 2017 SL550 Roadster. Lexus offered a bamboo trim option in the 2013 Lexus GS as well. We believe this trend will continue.

Bamboo is extremely strong and with the right techniques can rival steel in strength. It’s entirely possible the body of your cars will be made from bamboo some day. While trim accent pieces are nice, using a more sustainable material like bamboo for the rest of the car could prove beneficial.

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Why we don’t recommend Leyland Cypress Trees…

damaged cypress trees


Leyland Cypress trees and similar like Thuja Green Giant trees can provide great privacy, but have huge issues when it comes to offering privacy long term. Disease, drought, and natural disasters are the leading causes of damage to these trees. In many cases you’ll have a few of them die which will create gaps in your screen rendering it almost useless. To fix the gap you will have to install more of them which could then damage the others around it. These have very large root balls so replacing one of them will likely damage the others in the process.

Leyland Cypress


Prone to disease which threatens life of plant.Resistant to pests and disease, while problems are rare it does not typically affect plant health.
Prone to drought damage or death.All bamboo is drought resistant and holds water very well.
Will up-root in natural disasters and are difficult to revive.Even in the worst of disasters broken canes will always be replaced by the next springs growth.
Expensive to replace.Bamboo will replenish damaged canes during the next spring growth cycle.


Seiridium Canker, Botryosphaeria Canker, and Cercospora Needle Blight are all common diseases that can affect foliage, stems, and branches. These are the common diseases that will cause branches or the whole tree to turn brown.  There are also some root diseases such as Phytophthora root rot caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, and Annosus root rot caused by Heterobasidion annosum. These diseases spread quickly from tree to tree and can eventually kill off your whole privacy screen.


Possibly the most common reason for these cypress trees dying is drought. Unlike disease, drought will quickly destroy your entire planting. With some of the recent record breaking droughts across the USA, it’s safer to stick to plants with more tolerance for drought. Just look at our facebook post with a picture taken after 54 days without rain. The drought we had last year in Alabama greatly affected cypress trees around our area. A large majority of them showing partial foliar damage, or completely dead.

Natural Disaster

Leyland Cypress trees are prone to wind damage and have fell pray to tornadoes and hurricanes in the past. In storm prone areas it is not recommended to plant these near buildings or power lines. Not to mention once they have been uprooted from the ground it can be near impossible to secure them in the ground again, especially without damage to the tree. Many arborists recommend removing the tree and starting with a new one. (Loosing your screen)

Why Bamboo?

Bamboo is resistant to disease, drought, and natural disaster. In just under 40 years of growing bamboo we have not ever encountered any serious problems with any of these issues. As much of bamboos “life” system is underground, any damage above ground can be quickly replaced with the next springs new shoots. Eliminating costly maintenance and lost of your privacy screen.

If you are not familiar with how bamboo grows we highly recommend you read more here. How Bamboo Grows

Bamboo is an amazing plant that grows quicker than any other species and provides a lush, evergreen screen for you to enjoy. We love bamboo and hope you choose it as a feature in your landscape. We have over 150 species growing at our nursery and can choose the right kind for you.

Links: Mail Order Plants – Caring for Bamboo – Frequently Asked Questions – About our family owned company

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Snow in New York? These Pandas don’t care…

red panda eating bamboo in new york

As a major snow storm hits the northeastern US, everyone seems to care except the red pandas at the Trevor Zoo. Located in Millbrook, NY, about 90 miles north of New York City, they got less snow than expected. The storm was forecasted to surpass the Blizzard of 1888, but the storm stayed along the coast which kept warmer air.

These pandas didn’t seem to care, mindlessly munching on some bamboo and frolicking around.

See the full video here

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Is Bamboo Safe for Pets?

Yes! All of our bamboo is safe for pets. This only applies to actual bamboo species, not the look-alikes like “Lucky Bamboo”, or “Heavenly Bamboo”. There are lots of species that may have bamboo in the name, but are not bamboo at all. For true Bambusoideae species of bamboo, it is non toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Fun fact: Foliage of bamboo can contain up to 22% protein, so it’s even good for them! Protein content varies from species to species and even varies depending on the age of the leaves. Foliage later in the season contains much more protein than newly grown.

One worry with your bamboo is fertilization. We recommend fertilizing your bamboo once in the spring and once in the fall. Most fertilizers use chemicals that are harmful to your pets if ingested.

As many of our customers have pets we now offer an all natural pet safe fertilizer. It’s called Catalyst and is actually derived from catfish offal. This is the remains of the fish after the filet’s have been removed by the processor. Don’t worry though, it’s very low odor. You can read more about Catalyst here… Catalyst – All Natural – Pet Safe Fertilizer

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Pandas in Tokyo Zoo mate for first time in 4 years

panda family eating bamboo

Last Sunday, Pandas in the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo mated for the first time in 4 long years. The encounter only lasted for 52 seconds, but they hope it will be a successful one.

Both pandas 11 years old were separated after the encounter. Pandas are lonely creatures and will fight if left together. Pandas reach sexual maturity at 5.5-6.5 years old. The mating season is between March and May and the pandas will typically only associate with each other for just a few days. They have one of the shortest breeding season of any other mammal.

The zoo closed the panda exhibit in preparation for the mating season. It has been closed since February 22, 2017 and now they have mated we would assume it shall be open soon.

Image Source:

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How to plant bamboo for a privacy screen

Bamboo can provide a lush evergreen privacy screen or hedge in a very short time if planted correctly. First, species selection is critical. Species should be selected based upon climate zone, desired appearance and height. Make sure you get a species cold hardy enough for your climate zone so that it will be evergreen and you can enjoy privacy year around. There are many species for climate zones 5 and warmer that will give great screening.


Soil can have an impact too. Most temperate bamboo will survive in range of soil conditions from clay to sand. This will really only effect the bamboo ability to spread. Most bamboo if you asked them (don’t let anybody see you do this) prefer PH neutral to acidic sandy loams.


Sunlight conditions vary great from deep shade to full sun. Most all of the good screening bamboos (the Phyllostachys genus) is tolerant of all sunlight condition. As long as there is 4+ hours of filtered sun or better, bamboo can grow. The more sun, the faster the growth and development of the privacy screen. Sunny sites require more water because of evaporation and feeding the higher growth rate of bamboo.

How Many Plants Do I Need?

One division of bamboo will start a grove or screen over time. However, if you want a privacy screen fast, I recommend planting 3 gallon sizes 3 to 5 feet apart, plant 2 gallon sizes 1 to 3 feet apart. This will hopefully allow you to have a good screen in three years. There are a lot of factors such as water, sunlight, and climate zones that speeds up or slows down the process. Three years is about the average on this spacing, closer planting will allow you to screen or develop your grove faster. You cannot over plant bamboo.

How Bamboo Grows

Bamboo grows a little different than most plants. The bamboo that you get initially never grows vertically again. It has babies that are taller, that has babies that are taller. Every generation should be taller that the previous year’s shoots. The intriguing aspect is that each year’s growth emerges and grows to it complete height in 60-90 days. They spread as they produce larger growth, filling in and providing a screen.

This link will help you learn how bamboo grows. It will give you an idea of what kind of growth to expect from your planting. It also goes over some methods of controlling bamboo and how to keep your bamboo healthy. It is a lot of information, but well worth your time.

How bamboo grows

Planting bamboo is also easy. You want to dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball. When you plant the bamboo amend your soil with composted manure and a good top soil. Bamboo can be planted at ground level or slightly deeper. It is not a picky about it conditions but this will help get it off to a good start. More details can be seen here:

Planting Instructions

Finally, I will share with you a tip that will really help your bamboo screen develop quickly. Watering is the key. Especially during the establishment period. Bamboo should be watered heavily but make sure that you allow the soil time to dry between watering cycles. This can vary greatly between soil conditions so you will have to monitor it at first until you find the correct amount and schedule.

The method of delivery can be very beneficial too. Soaker hoses are great because bamboo rhizomes tend to follow the path of least resistance. A soaker hose tends to help your bamboo screen develop much faster because it encourages growth along your screening axis. For best results align the soaker hose directly where you want your bamboo screen to grow and coil it around initial plantings to provide the most water to the plants.

With these elements in mind, developing a bamboo screen is easy and fast. In just a couple of years, you will be able to watch your screen grow and enjoy your privacy.

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Unique opportunities for the Black Belt Region of the United States

There has been much talk about the rest of the world’s ability to produce/use bamboo. Let’s not count the United States out yet. The Black Belt Region has always been great at agriculture. Now a very unique opportunity exists, bamboo. Phyllostachys Edulis or Moso bamboo, the species used in China for everything from construction to power production can only be grown to maturity in the margins of climate zone 7 and 8. The best place in the United States to grow this plant lies in the best soil in this climate zone – which is the Black Belt region of the southeast U.S. This unique opportunity can allow for domestic growth and production of so many products that we already import from China. Bamboo has a variety of applications. It is a woody plant that can replenish itself quickly.

Primary bamboo products are timber substitutes (e.g. bamboo flooring, paper, and furniture), cotton substitutes (e.g. clothing, sheets) and food (bamboo shoots). Some additional uses are activated carbon, fodder, charcoal, bio-energy, reinforcement in structures, medicine, etc. It is also desirable in its natural state for privacy plants or harvested poles. Bamboo also provides a higher rate of exchange of carbon dioxide than trees. Asian nations have used bamboo in its culture for years instead of trees. However, many Western cultures are not set up to manufacture bamboo like the Eastern cultures. This should be a changing trend over the next decade as the world shifts toward a green approach concerning products it consumes. Investment in bamboo may take a while but, it is worth the time and effort to help establish quickly renewable resources that also help benefit the environment with better carbon exchange.