Choosing the Correct Bamboo for Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide



Virginia, a state located on the east coast of the United States, has a diverse range of climates and soil conditions that make it an ideal location for gardening and landscaping. Bamboo has become a popular plant choice for many Virginia gardeners due to its versatility, sustainability, and natural beauty. With its fast growth rate and ability to provide privacy, bamboo is a great option for those looking to add some visual interest and functionality to their garden. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to select and grow bamboo in Virginia, taking into account the state's unique climate and soil conditions. 


The Ideal Climate for Bamboo in Virginia


Determine your USDA climate zone: The USDA has divided the United States into 13 climate zones based on the average minimum temperature in each area. Virginia is divided into three climate zones: Zone 6b, Zone 7a, and Zone 7b. You can determine your specific zone by using the climate zone map on our website or visiting the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map online.


Selecting the Right Bamboo Species


There are many species of bamboo, but not all of them are suitable for Virginia's climate zones. Here are some of the best bamboo species for each zone:

  • Zone 6b: This zone has an average minimum temperature of -5 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The best bamboo species for this zone include Fargesia nitida (also known as Fountain Bamboo), Phyllostachys aureosulcata (Yellow Groove Bamboo), and Phyllostachys bissetii (Bisset Bamboo).
  • Zone 7a: This zone has an average minimum temperature of 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The best bamboo species for this zone include Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bamboo), Phyllostachys aurea (Golden Bamboo), and Phyllostachys rubromarginata (Red Margin Bamboo).
  • Zone 7b: This zone has an average minimum temperature of 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The best bamboo species for this zone include Phyllostachys atrovaginata (Incense Bamboo), Phyllostachys bambusoides (Giant Timber Bamboo), and Phyllostachys vivax (Green Stripe Bamboo).


Planting and Maintaining Bamboo


  1. Site Selection: Choose a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight. While some bamboo species can tolerate partial shade, most prefer full sun for optimal growth.
  2. Soil Preparation: Bamboo grows best in slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter to improve drainage and aeration.
  3. Planting: Dig a hole twice the width and depth of the root ball. Place the bamboo plant in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole and water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
  4. Watering: Bamboo requires consistent moisture, especially during the first two years of establishment. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on rainfall and soil type. Once established, bamboo is relatively drought-tolerant.
  5. Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring and fall to promote healthy growth.
  6. Controlling Running Bamboo: If you plant a running bamboo species, install a root barrier around the planting area to prevent unwanted spread.
  7. Pruning: Regularly remove dead or damaged culms and thin out older culms to promote new growth and maintain a tidy appearance. 

Winterizing Bamboo 

Winterizing bamboo plants is an essential process that safeguards their health and longevity during the colder months. Bamboo, a versatile and fast-growing plant, can thrive in various climates, but its resilience can be tested by harsh winter conditions. Taking the appropriate steps to winterize bamboo can help ensure its survival and continued growth once the warmer seasons return. To winterize bamboo, begin by pruning any dead or damaged culms in the late fall, thus promoting stronger growth in the spring. Mulching around the base of the bamboo is another vital step, as it insulates the roots, retains moisture, and provides nutrients to the soil. Additionally, wrapping the culms with burlap or using windbreaks, such as a fence or a row of evergreens, can protect the bamboo from the harsh winds and prevent desiccation. By following these simple yet crucial winterizing steps, bamboo enthusiasts can safeguard their plants and enjoy their lush green presence for years to come. 

Controlling Bamboo Growth with HDPE Barrier in Virginia


When growing bamboo in Virginia particularly running bamboo species, it's essential to manage their growth to maintain an organized and well-kept garden. One effective method of managing bamboo growth is by using an HDPE (high-density polyethylene) root barrier, such as Bamboo Shield. This barrier helps guide the growth of bamboo rhizomes, ensuring the plant remains within its designated area.

     Benefits of Using an HDPE Barrier like Bamboo Shield:

  • Guiding bamboo spread: The HDPE barrier creates a physical boundary that gently directs the growth of running bamboo species, keeping your garden orderly and maintaining a healthy balance between bamboo and other plants.
  • Protecting other plants: By guiding bamboo's growth, the HDPE barrier ensures the protection of other plants in your garden, allowing them to flourish without being overshadowed by the expanding bamboo.

It's important to note that clumping bamboo species generally do not require an HDPE barrier like Bamboo Shield, as their growth habit is more compact and less expansive. However, implementing Bamboo Shield or a similar root barrier can provide peace of mind and help maintain an attractive, well-organized landscape when growing running bamboo species in your Virginia garden.


Bamboo Examples Found in Various Virginia Locations


There are many examples of bamboo found in various locations throughout Virginia, from public gardens to private residences. Here are a few examples with links for more information:

  1. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Richmond, VA: This botanical garden is home to several varieties of bamboo, including the golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) and the black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra). Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty and peaceful ambiance of these towering plants. (
  2. Green Spring Gardens - Alexandria, VA: This public garden features a bamboo grove with over 30 different species of bamboo. The grove provides a unique and serene setting for visitors to explore and learn about the different varieties of bamboo. (
  3. Norfolk Botanical Garden - Norfolk, VA: The Norfolk Botanical Garden is home to a bamboo garden that features a variety of bamboo species, including the giant timber bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides) and the fishpole bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). The garden is a popular attraction for visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. (
  4. Private residences - Virginia Beach, VA: Bamboo is also popular among homeowners in Virginia, who use it as a natural privacy screen or for landscaping purposes. Many private residences in Virginia Beach feature bamboo as part of their outdoor living spaces. (

These are just a few examples of the many places where bamboo can be found in Virginia. Whether you're a gardener, a nature lover, or just someone looking for a peaceful retreat, bamboo is a versatile and beautiful plant that can add charm and functionality to any outdoor space. 




 By following these steps, you can select the best bamboo species for your Virginia garden based on your USDA climate zone and growing conditions. With the right care and containment, your bamboo can thrive and add beauty and interest to your landscape.

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