bamboo in zone 5 : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I'm thinking of growing some bamboo in zone 5. I think it gets as cold as 20 below in really cold years, but probably no colder than 10 below most years.

I thought it would be fun to have bamboo for making stuff - not for eating.

Can somebody direct me to a web site that might have really tall bamboo that will grow in my area?

Are there varieties of bamboo that are not good for making stuff?

I'm aware of the invasiveness problems, but I'm willing to risk that.

If I mulch the bamboo with lots of straw in the winter can I get stuff that is not as cold hardy?

How much does bamboo grow in one year?

-- Paul Wheaton (, April 21, 2001


Be VERY, VERY careful! Bamboo will grow here (Maine) which is zone 5. However, there's bamboo and there's BAMBOO! Some are incredibly invasive, and the only way I know to eradicate it is nuclear weapons, chemicals that will destroy all life, or pigs. All are equally effective. Talk to your county extension agent before you even THINK about planting bamboo, kudzu, or loostrife! GL!

-- Brad (, April 21, 2001.

i am here in northern ky and am raising hardy bamboo the variety i have gets 20' tall and about 1.5 " in thickness ,when i planted it it was very slow in establishing then it took off and it is controled only by mowing off new shoots constantly during the springits a handy source of bamboo for stakes ,anyone close would be welcome to a start

-- george darby (, April 21, 2001.

I seem to remember a previous discussion about bamboo. Maybe search the archives. One thing I remember from it tho was there are a couple different types, one is very invasive and the other is not.

-- john (, April 21, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

I've done some research and it seems that "yellow groove" is easily the most popular for Zone 5. It grows to 20 feet tall or so in zone 5. 45 feet in warmer climes.

To answer my own question: Bamboo can grow 15 to 25 feet in one year. Usually within two months.

-- Paul Wheaton (, April 22, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)


There is running bamboo (the kinds giving it the bad name) and then there is clumping bamboo. Try these sources. Lots of good info.

Bamboo Garden

jmbamboo Nursery - Cold Hardy Bamboo for Your Garden and Landscape LEWIS BAMBOO GROVES - Bamboo Nursery Offering Cold Hardy Bamboo Plants for Landscaping


-- j (, April 22, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

I am spending a great deal of time and energy giving away the bamboo we have grown for the past 6-7 years here in WV. I never should have planted it. It is tall ( 20 feet plus) and evergreen and a perfect visual barrier for all seasons. However, it has been known to uproot foundations of housing, it over reaches concrete barriers buried in the ground and is generally a nuisance. It is costing me a good deal of time to give it away as cut poles (you cut, you haul) and I lecture everyone who thinks they want a start, and they usually take the starts anyway (like we did all those $%^# years ago). They think they will be able to mow those soft new shoots and keep them under control. They can literally show up 20 feet plus from the parent plant.

It took 4-5 years to get really good height and girth. It can grow in bad soil.

Remember that you may be willing to risk the growth, but maybe no one else is. Think about possible future sale of the house, border invasions, etc. It is very difficult to eradicate.

-- Anne (, April 22, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

I think you make an excellent point. The stuff is insanely invasive. The lifespan of rhubarb with the spreading of bindweed. That is a very dangerous combination.

But! It is an edible plant. And we have 80 acres with plenty of livestock. I would think that if we ever got sick of it, we could just feed it to some animals. Pigs if we have to.

Do you think this won't be enough?

It just seems to me that it's usefullness would be huge. And eventually, we might be able to sell the bamboo at the saturday market.

j, Thanks for the links - to actually see pictures in the U.S. was a big help. I wonder how tall they will get in zone 5.

-- Paul Wheaton (, April 23, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

Bamboo will grow ALMOST anywhere in zones 6 and higher... You have to watch the species. There is only one listed for zone 5, and it says that it will grow in zone 3 'if mild winters are four in a row', so with mulch and a cover, it should be ok.

Look for Acacia retinodes... It is listed for zone 5. Most of them seem to be for zone 6 or warmer - at least on the list I have. They say it gets quite leggy, and not so thick as some.

So far as I know, young shoots of most species can be eaten. Not sure, though.

-- Sue Diederich (, April 23, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

I've got Pacific Giant bamboo. At least the guy who sold it to me said it was. So far it's tall, but not fat. I'm wanting it to get thick (supposed to get 6" in diameter) for building and architectural stuff.

Anyone know how to season this stuff without it splitting???

I was told you can keep the running type from spreading by putting a barrier around it 18" deep, as it doesn't put out roots that deep. Also was told that it won't grow where you don't water; and this has been the case here. It grows like crazy where I water it, and has not been a problem at all otherwise.

I, too, was told that it would never be a problem if you like to eat bamboo shoots. I think they are all edible. I'll start eating mine whenever they get too big.


Oh, yeah; most the cold hearty types are temperate. The clumping varieties are almost all tropical. If you can't find enough info on line, check out Western Gardening. It lists better than 100 species.

-- jumpoff joe (, April 23, 2001.

Response to bamboo in zone 5 (Trees)

The deer and rabbits won't touch it to eat. Chickens won't eat the new shoots either. We could eat the new shoots but there are more than we care to digest. There is a bambo planting near to/part of a cow pasture and I have never seen them eating it.

Picking new shoots or 'knocking them over with your boot' (as a recent mag article suggested) only encourages the runner to go further and try again. The season for new growth is now. By June or so the new growth ceases so we won't have to be so vigilant.

To slow splitting be sure to cut the bamboo near a 'knot'. Also, it is possible to extend the useful life of bamboo poles by using shellac or another preservative. Untreated and used in the garden they last about 3-4 years.

-- Anne (, April 23, 2001.

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