There is one plant I love that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It's low maintenance, easy to propagate, great as a feature plant, great as a ground cover and great for screening both small things like fences and huge things like apartment blocks …. If you hadn’t guessed it, it’s Bamboo.
Basically there are two types of bamboo, running and clumping. Running is the evil twin brother that once planted in the ground will turn up in every garden in the neighborhood and clumping is the well-behaved twin that stays at home and pleases its parents. If you pick the right one for your situation either will make you happy.
Maintenance on bamboo is easy, they need a little bit of water and little bit of organic food in early spring and summer and they are ready to grow. Maintenance of bamboo couldn’t be simpler too instead of being up on ladders like with hedges and trees you simply thin the culms (stems) from the base.
Running bamboo is best planted in pots otherwise it will take itself for a walk around the neighborhood. ‘Black bamboo’ would be the most famous for its unusual black culms but watch out to look its best it needs a fair bit of water so the tips of the leaves don’t brown and. ‘Moso’ is also a running bamboo but really needs space to grow so keep it in a confined large raised planter. Moso is a huge bamboo that can get to 20 meters in height and some say it can grow up to 100cm A DAY … yes I did say ONE DAY!.
Clumping bamboo is the best to use in the landscape as it can be planted directly in the ground and comes in a huge variety of colours and sizes. Culms can be found in black, green and Yellow and will grow between 3 and 20 meters. For a good manageable hedge I use the slender weaver but also love Alphonse karr for its vibrant yellow culms if you need to get rid of an apartment block go for giant timber bamboo.
I also like to use bamboo as a stand-alone feature plant either in a pot of in a garden bed. Blue bamboo is very hardy to the cold and has the most amazing delicate foliage that gets a blue tinge on the leaves. A bold statement can be made by using Budda belly bamboo that swells after a couple of years creating great texture in the landscape. However my favorite is the Ghost bamboo growing between 8-10 meters in height and retaining an amazing white appearance to the culms that adds light and interest to any garden.
Bamboo not only comes in tall varieties but also low growing almost ground cover like species called Sasa. My favorite would be Sasa veitchii as the leaves get a yellow boarder adding light to an understory. Another goody is the pygmy Malay as it has a fine feathery like foliage – it does love a drink though so keep the water up to it to get the best out of it.