Bamboos instantly add a lush, tropical effect to gardens, patios and balconies, and include many different varieties, with tall types suitable for large containers and more compact forms ideal for small spaces. Easy to look after and reliably hardy, these elegant evergreens provide interest all year round.
Bamboos are versatile plants and suit a range of garden styles and uses, whether you’re looking for a focal point, backdrop, specimen to disguise an eyesore, or an airy screen to divide your space. Their main attractions are their decorative stems, which come in a range of colors, including golden yellow, black, green, and striped. Thriving in soil-based compost, such as John Innes No. 3, the larger bamboos, including Pseudosasa, Sasa, Fargesia and Phyllostachys, need roomy pots that provide space for plants to spread. Containers made from metal, plastic or with glazed finishes are ideal, but avoid terra-cotta, as this permeable material sucks moisture from the compost, which can cause bamboo foliage to dry out and turn yellow. Although some bamboos are rampant thugs in the garden, spreading via underground root systems, when grown in pots even vigorous species won’t turn into unwanted guests. However, it is still wise to avoid plants that grow very quickly and require frequent repotting or dividing; all of those shown here are well behaved, requiring the minimum of maintenance, apart from watering.
Caring for Bamboos
Bamboos are thirsty plants and need regular watering to prevent the loss of foliage. If you have a number in pots, consider installing an automatic irrigation system to maintain moisture levels. Also apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring or early summer to promote a mass of new canes and healthy leaves. As plants mature, thin out heavily congested clumps by removing some of the thinner canes or older shoots that look beat up. Stripping leaves from the bottom third of the plants also helps to show off the canes.
Tip: Add interest to your container display and prevent weeds from growing on the compost around bamboos by covering the surface with an ornamental mulch. Choose a material that contrasts with the container and sets off the bamboo, such as pebbles, slate, colored gravel or glass beads.