- Visually interesting, canes turn green to black during the growing season.
- The hardiest of all black bamboo species.
- Slower to expand with minimal control efforts needed.
Can I grow this bamboo?
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Characteristics of Phyllostachys Nigra 'Black'
Phyllostachys Nigra ‘Black Bamboo’ is a beautiful and unique bamboo plant. The legendary ‘Black Bamboo’ is native to Taiwan and China. Introduced in 1827, black bamboo became the first hardy oriental bamboo.
Like anything that stands out with beauty and uniqueness, this bamboo does not come without a few "torns". Black bamboo can be a tad more on the needy side when it comes to location and attention needed; it requires at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, is not an option for indoor planting, it does not tolerate wind well, and the foliage has been damaged at temperatures below 10° Fahrenheit. If a dry wind is present, plant in a protected area. Foliage loss occurs at 0° to -5° with a complete top kill of canes at around -10° to -15°. Due to this, we recommend this species for USDA Climate Zones 7 and 8. It is being grown in climate zone 6 with moderate top damage during the harsh winter months. The culms are not as erect in shaded sides as some other species and tend to weep or arch over; Pruning can correct this behavior.
Those who grow ‘Black Bamboo’ in western gardens love its graceful habits. The sharp contrast of color provided by the dark culms and green foliage is very desirable. New canes emerge green and turn ebony black within two years with sunlight exposure. This is reported to be the only species the culm turns true ebony in color. The culm sheath has wavy blades with prominent oral setae, auricles, and ligules.
The wood is of high quality and used by many craftsmen.
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 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 found on our Planting Instruction Page
Spacing between plants
One division of bamboo will start a grove or screen over time. However, if you want a privacy screen fast, we recommend planting bamboo 3 to 5 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.
Bamboo can benefit from a fertilization program. You can safely fertilize your bamboo once it has been in the ground for one month. A time release fertilizer will work great. Time release fertilizers allow for proper absorption in case your soil is out of PH balance. We offer some fertilizer to help with growth. We fertilize twice a year. Once in the early spring to encourage new growth and then again during the middle of the grow season to replace any nutrients that are being depleted. Click here to see our recommended fertilizer: Our Fertilizers
Over the years a lot of myths have been told about bamboo, while it can spread under good conditions, it is not as invasive as many people would have you believe. In colder climates an aggressive runner here in the south will hardy spread at all in comparison. We have been growing bamboo since 1985 and had experience with it long before that. The bamboo's underground root system (rhizome) will spread beyond the initial planting over the years, so in the next two or three years you will need to decide on some method of containment on the sides you do not want the rhizomes to run over into.
We have constructed a page discussing multiple methods of controlling bamboo. It goes over root pruning, mowing new shoots, and in ground barriers: Controlling Bamboo
All this said and it may discourage you, but as with any plant there will be maintenance. Bamboo is very beautiful and is great in a Japanese style garden, but it will need maintenance down the road. At first it may seem to be doing nothing, but after 3 to 5 years you will have a lot of beautiful culms (canes) and love the foliage. All our 150 plus species simply contained by mowing and weed eating the new Spring and Summer shoots. Hopes this helps and don't be afraid of the bamboo.