Bamboo – Clumping

A reader recently asked me “Is there a recommended clumping bamboo for Atlanta? I need one that grows to sixteen feet or more.”

Though it grows tall like a tree, bamboo is actually a giant grass. It spreads by means of underground stems called rhizomes. Bamboo plants can expand rapidly if the rhizomes grow several feet horizontally before sprouting an aboveground stem: a culm. Some bamboo species, though, have short rhizomes. They form a clump rather than running throughout a landscape.

Clumping bamboos are typically tropical in nature. Umbrella bamboo, Fargesia nitida, is very cold tolerant but not heat and sun tolerant.

A few years ago, Extension agent David Linville gathered information from Georgia bamboo experts and collected it in Growing Bamboo in Georgia. It has excellent pictures and descriptions.

Recommended species of clumping bamboo are listed below. The American Bamboo Society lists suppliers of these bamboos.

Name
Height (ft)
Stem diameter (in)
Temperature tolerance (F.)

Bambusa multiplex
25
1.5
12 deg.
Each node bears a large number of branches down to the culm base, making a dense hedge. Hardiest of the Bambusa.

B. multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’
25
3.8
12 deg.
Similar to the species, but the culms and branches are bright yellow with irregular longitudinal narrow dark green stripes. New shoots and culms are often reddish.

B. multiplex ‘Fernleaf’
20
0.5
12 deg.
Usually small in size with 10 to 20 closely spaced, two ranked leaves. Often culms come up that have reverted to the larger leaves.

B. multiplex ‘Fernleaf Stripestem’
12
0.5
12 deg.
Similar to ‘Fernleaf’ except that the culms are reddish or yellowish and striped with green.

B. multiplex ‘Golden Goddess’
10
0.5
12 deg.
A dwarf form similar to ‘Fernleaf’ but with larger leaves. The culms tend to be yellowish.

B. multiplex ‘Goldstripe’

25
1.5
12 deg.
Mature green culms have a gold stripe that bleeds into the green.

B. multiplex ‘Midori Green’
15
1.5
13 deg.
Similar to ‘Alphonse Karr’, but the culms and branches are light green with dark green stripes.

B. multiplex ‘Riviereorum’
6
0.3
12 deg.
Has solid culms and tiny leaves; similar to ‘Fernleaf’ but smaller, more delicate looking.

B. multiplex ‘Silverstripe’
25
1.5
12 deg.
Many leaves have white stripes and some culms are also striped with white.

B. multiplex ‘Tiny Fern’
3
0.2
12 deg.
A dwarf form with leaves often less than 1″ long.

B. multiplex ‘Tiny Fern Striped’
3
0.2
12 deg.
Same as ‘Tiny Fern’, but with striped culms.

B. multiplex ‘Willowy’
10
0.5
13 deg.
Culms droop or arch strongly with small, narrow leaves.

B. dolichomerithalla ‘’Green stripe’
35
2.0
15 deg.
This cultivar has yellow-green culms striped with dark green.

B. dolichomerithalla ‘Silverstripe’
35
2.0
15 deg.
This cultivar has culms striped with silver.

Fargesia nitida
12
0.5
2 deg.
Upright culms with thick gray deciduous wax when young, may become nearly black.

F. murieliae
15
0.5
2 deg.
Similar to F. nitida but with green culms.

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