Clumping Bamboo                                                                                                                                                                                                            
 click on plant name or photo to see photos and descriptions of each bamboo                                                         


Fargesia robusta

Fargesia sp.

Fargesia sp. 'Scabrida'

CLUMPING BAMBOO have a non-invasive root structure.

    Recently introduced species of true Clumping Bamboo have caught the attention of many, due to their unique root structure that creates a tight cluster of culms -one can grow them without worry of unwanted spread. Identifying what types of bamboo have fast spreading habits, and which are tightly clumping, will enable one to make the right choices for certain landscapes. Clumping Bamboo differ from the more common, fast spreading types. Relatively new to temperate gardens, they are smaller, averaging 8 to 15 feet in height, and require little maintenance. The root structure grows together in a dense cluster, spreading a couple inches out from the base each season. They have gracefully arching plumes of dark green, feather-like leaves, draping from a tight cluster of culms. The three types we specialize in (listed above) are very cold hardy and can be grown in a wide range of climates, though they prefer a cool, temperate climate.

    Many are also very cold hardy, found in the Himalayas at elevations over 7,000 feet. We specialize in the cold hardy, mountain-dwelling varieties which represent over 80 species of a complex and diverse group of clump-forming bamboos, indigenous to the mountains of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu provinces in China, extending west through Bhutan, Nepal, northern India, and the Tibetan plateau. The original  group has been divided into several  genera: Borinda, Drepanostachyum,  Himalayacalamus, Fargesia, Thamnocalamus, and Yushania
    Our selection of three Fargesia, to concentrate the bulk of our inventory, was an educated decision based on many years of experience, growing these bamboos and selling them to the public. They range in height from 8 to 15 feet, on average. We have found these three species to be the most versatile and useful in the landscape, able to withstand winter temperatures as low as
-10 F with little damage to the foliage. They are root hardy to -20 F and regenerate in the spring, if well insulated with mulch (see Care and Maintenance) They will thrive in a shady area and, in coastal climates, are fully sun tolerant.  If grown father inland, any where east of the Cascade Mountains: the Rockies, Mid West, New England, and East Coast, they can tolerate a few hours of direct sun, but require shade during the afternoon.  Unfortunately, they will not survive in tropical, or extremely hot climates. They also possess exceptional vigor when compared to other Clumping Bamboo, but still require no containment due to the physical structure of their root mass. Each rhizome bud extends only 2 to 6 inches per year before turning directly upward to form a new culm, distinctly different from Running Bamboo which can spread underground over 10 feet in a season.
See picture below:

Noah Bell, 2007  Click on the photo to see larger image of a clumping root mass (known as "pachymorph" rhizome).   

    Left is a picture of a clumping root mass found on a F. robusta. The soil has been washed away in order to divide this plant into several pieces. Look carefully, each bud extending from a green culm is pointed directly upward, ready to create a new shoot.
     Here is the story: In February 2006, three culms with about six primary buds (or new shoots) were separated from a larger plant. The second culm from the left is the oldest. By April '06, two of the buds had grown into new shoots, extending upward to become culms. Through the summer months, they created leaves, roots, another new culm, and a new batch of buds for the following season. Most new shoots are produced in March through May, however,  F. robusta, F. sp. 'Rufa', and F. sp. 'Scabrida'  often send up a secondary, though smaller, flush of new shoots in August through September. The plant (as photographed in Dec. 2006) has about 18 viable buds, 10 to 14 of which will produce new shoots the following spring of 2007.  In short, three large culms are capable of producing 12 to 16 new culms within a year and a half.  All of this activity has taken place within a 10 gallon container, about 16 inches in diameter.
    One can expect one to three feet of height gain per year from a Clumping Bamboo.
In other words, a two gallon plant that is two feet tall, with three culms will exceed 10 feet with over 100 culms within five years, given good conditions.
Below is a five year old
Fargesia robusta:

Noah Bell, 2007  Click on the photo to see larger image of a Fargesia robusta, about 5 years old at Bamboo Garden, in North Plains, Oregon.

    A classic Clumping Bamboo:  gracefully arching plume of dark green, feather-like leaves, draping from a tight cluster of culms.  This photo was taken in the middle of winter,  yet the foliage is vibrant as if it were spring time.  Sometimes January is when one can most appreciate bamboo, as it stands in vivid contrast with the drab brown and grey colors typical of the season. 
   For more information about care and maintenance of Clumping Bamboo see: 
Care and Maintenance




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