There are two primary types of bamboo, Clumping and Running. As their names would suggest Clumping bamboo forms dense, tightly packed clumps of bamboo canes or culms, while Running bamboo sends underground runners which run parallel to the ground and can stretch for many feet. One running rhizome can be responsible for many new bamboo shoots. It is particularly important to understand the difference between Clumpers and Runners and to know which bamboo type will work for your application. Runners have quite different growth characteristics and environmental requirements than their clumping cousins, and it is important these factors are considered during the selection process. I will outline some of the primary attributes of each bamboo type.
·Also known as sympodial or temperate bamboo
·Comes in many diverse shapes, colors and sizes including many dwarf and variegated varieties
·Is more cold tolerant than clumping bamboo and can be used throughout the United States
·Can be invasive, different species have different levels of invasiveness, ask before planting!
·Sends out long rhizomes underground which can run for many feet and be responsible for many new shoots in many directions
·Is a common and very effective tool for erosion control
·Can be successfully kept in a pot or planter
·Rhizome barriers are the most common way of containing running bamboo in the landscape
·Water barriers at least 30” deep will also keep running bamboo from spreading
·Also known as monopodial or tropical bamboo
·Completely non-invasive, these bamboo stay where you put them and the clumps can be easily shaped and controlled
·Clumpers are a smaller group of bamboo compared to their running cousin, and are often associated with tropical and subtropical climates
·Although there are some cold hearty clumpers, as a rule clumpers are less cold tolerant than runners, and are better suited for hot tropical to semi tropical weather
·Rhizomes do not run in clumping bamboo. Instead they form a tightly packed clump and new shoots emerge from within the clump
·Clumping bamboo will send up a densely packed group of new shoots throughout the spring and summer, and will never shoot more than a few inches away from its mother cane, eventually forming a thick well behaved clump.
·Clumping bamboo can be kept successfully in a pot or planter
·Clumpers generally have high light requirements and as a rule do better outdoors
·No containment strategy or rhizome barrier is needed when using clumping bamboo