Choosing the Right Bamboo Species for Maryland: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Correct Bamboo for Maryland: A Comprehensive Guide


Bamboo, with its fast growth, low maintenance requirements, and aesthetic appeal, presents an enticing option for Maryland residents looking to enhance their gardens and landscapes. From privacy screening to environmental benefits, there are numerous advantages to cultivating bamboo in the region.

The Ideal Climate for Bamboo in Maryland

Maryland experiences a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cool to mild winters. Bamboo generally thrives in these conditions if the appropriate species are selected, and care is taken to provide suitable growing conditions.

Selecting the Right Bamboo Species


           Screening Bamboo

  • Bissetii Bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii) is an outstanding choice for creating a natural privacy screen that combines functionality with elegance. Its vigorous growth, dense foliage, and tall culms make it an excellent choice for adding beauty and privacy to your outdoor space. 
  • Red Margin Bamboo (Phyllostachys rubromarginata) stands out as a stunning and effective screening bamboo, offering both practicality and aesthetic appeal. With its distinctive red culm margins, dense foliage, and fast growth, it effortlessly creates a lush and private outdoor environment.

            Ornamental Bamboo

  • Black Bamboo’s (Phyllostachys nigra) timeless and versatile aesthetic makes it a perfect addition to various garden styles and design themes. Its striking black culms, lush foliage, and graceful growth lend an air of sophistication and charm to any landscape.
  • Spectabilis Bamboo (Bambusa textilis 'Spectabilis') exudes a captivating allure that makes it a prized addition to ornamental bamboo collections and garden landscapes. Its elegant culms, graceful arching canes, and lush foliage create a sense of tranquility and sophistication
  • Giant Gray Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra 'Henon') is a remarkable ornamental bamboo variety that captivates with its majestic beauty and unique attributes. This stunning bamboo species has earned popularity among garden enthusiasts and landscape designers alike for its impressive size, elegant appearance, and ornamental allure.


Planting and Maintaining Bamboo


  • 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.
  • Soil Preparation: Bamboo grows best in slightly acidic, well-draining soil. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter to improve drainage and aeration.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring and fall to promote healthy growth.
  • Controlling Running Bamboo: If you plant a running bamboo species, install a root barrier around the planting area to prevent unwanted spread.
  • 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 Maryland


 When growing bamboo in Maryland, 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 Maryland garden. 


 Bamboo Examples Found in Various Maryland Locations


  • 1. Phyllostachys Aureosulcata (Yellow Groove Bamboo)

Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton    

  • At Ladew Topiary Gardens, you can discover the mesmerizing beauty of Phyllostachys Aureosulcata, also known as Yellow Groove bamboo. This species features vibrant yellow culms with distinct green stripes, creating a visually striking display. As you wander through the gardens, you'll be captivated by the graceful elegance and unique charm of this bamboo variety.

Website: Ladew Topiary Gardens


  • 2. Phyllostachys Nigra (Black Bamboo)

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton 

  • Step into the enchanting world of Brookside Gardens and marvel at the captivating Phyllostachys nigra, or Black bamboo. Known for its dark-colored culms that mature into a deep ebony hue, this bamboo species exudes a sense of mystery and elegance. As you explore the gardens, you'll be immersed in the contrasting beauty of lush green foliage against the dramatic backdrop of the Black bamboo grove.

Website: Brookside Gardens




Overall, Maryland's climate provides a favorable environment for growing bamboo, with its combination of warm summers and relatively mild winters. By selecting bamboo species that are well-adapted to the region's climate and providing proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of bamboo in your Maryland landscape.

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