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Phyllostachys Nigra...Oriental Black Bamboo.
I have just ordered two of these today and wondered what people's views were re planting in pots or in the ground. I know some plants fare much better in the ground but I'd really like to take them with us in approx 2 years time and am undecided WHAT to do when they arrive!

Has anyone any strong views one way or another? Any tips on successful growing of same? Thank you as always.



If you do plant them in the ground now, in two years' time they'll be establishing themselves well, depending on what size the plants are to start with, of course!

I think I'd be inclined to plant them in large containers, and plant them out in their permanent place once you get there, Izzy. I love mine! :-)))

By the way, you'll need to sink a barrier of some sort into the soil when you do get that far, to stop them 'walking'. Maybe even plant them in a bottomless bin??

20 Aug, 2010


Or get some root rhizome barrier - though I was recently told by a landscaper friend that they just use the thick butyl rubber pond liner instead. Keep them in pots, as Spritz says.

20 Aug, 2010


Pots, definitely. If they like where you plant them in the ground, you'll have a devil of a job to move them in two years time!
Phil J

20 Aug, 2010


Pots it is then! Thank you all....I thought from previous comments about bamboo generally that it can be very invasive! I had it in the last garden, at the back of the pond, but it was never a problem as we kept it very contained with a barrier.

21 Aug, 2010


Hi Izzy,
There are many, many species of Bamboo, and the majority are tightly clump-forming and completely non-invasive. However, many of the species that are popular in cultivation here are very vigorous (which makes them easier and quicker for nurseries to propagate) and often extremely large-growing.

All Phyllostachys fit into this category although P. nigra is actually one of the least vigorous of them and has a largely non-spreading habit unless it's in a very warm environment. It is ultimately a very large plant though - 40 to 50 feet in height - magnificent in the correct garden setting but unsuitable for many.

Since you are intending to move them in 2 years they should definitely be containerised on arrival and should be absolutely fine in pots for those two years.You can containerise them for a longer period too, where they will be dwarfed somewhat, but they can become very unstable and top heavy as well as largely devoid of foliage after some's a bit like trying to grow an Oak Tree in a pot, not really what nature or that plant intended!

My general advice (although it's not much help for you now!) is to encourage people to buy smaller, non-spreading and more garden-suitable bamboo species, many of which are far more beautiful and less coarse than the Phyllostachys, as well as giving a wide array of cane colours to choose from.

21 Aug, 2010


Grief! I didn't realise they could get to that height, Bamboo! Maybe I should have done some more research on bamboos generally before purchasing!

Are there any you would personally recommend in preference to P.nigra, both for cane colour and that are even more attractive? Not asking much, am I?LOL.

22 Aug, 2010


Wasn't me who gave you the answer involving height, Izzy, but Ilex.
Personally, Phyllostachys nigra is one of my favourites, I like it very much, but despite its not having a bad rep for 'running', here in London, it runs for yards and yards, so please do make sure you use a barrier around it to prevent that happening.. Ultimate height for this one in the UK is, in fact, 10 feet, though I have known it to reach 12 feet, but no more.

22 Aug, 2010


I was a bit puzzled, too, Bamboo - mine walks, and certainly hasn't got to 'Jack and the Beanstalk' proportions...yet!

22 Aug, 2010 sorry, Bamboo...didn't look at the avatar! I have always fancied having pots it will be UNTIL we are established somewhere else....for retirement...eventually! It's fascinating that it can reach those heights though, Ilex. Cheers !

22 Aug, 2010


I hope mine stays shorter, Izzy....:-((

22 Aug, 2010


It will, Spritz - I've got some 11 years old in one of my client's gardens, it's 10 feet.

22 Aug, 2010


Hi Bamboo, we have 5 specimens of P. nigra (and it's forms) in the garden here, amongst our collection of 60-or-so species/varieties of bamboo. Each of our P. nigra's is from a different source/collection and all were planted approx 5 years ago, and they now range in height between maybe 12 and 20+ feet, but they're only just getting into their stride of course! The notion that this species tops out at 10 feet is most definitely incorrect. I've seen container grown specimens considerably taller than that in fact...

I also know of several local specimens in Devon gardens (Marwood, Rosemoor, etc.) that are I would say are in the region of maybe 35-40 feet in height, although, once again, none of them are "runners" either. By contrast many (most, in fact) of the other Phyllostachys species we have here are widely spreading at the rhizome.

Of course you have a different climate with more sun and a far longer growing season which probably accounts for the different growth patterns.

Izzy - I would say the best genera of bamboos for general garden use are Fargesia (and the closely related Borinda) and Thamnocalamus. T. crassinodus is one of my favourite species with very often fine, delicate foliage and canes that vary from whiteish powder-blue to bright red, depending on the variety. The form and shape of the plant is stunning as well.

Fargesia nitida is very widely available and has lovely deep black-purple canes...many new varieties of this have been recently introduced into cultivation along with several other small Fargesia species (rufa, fungosa, perlonga, yulongshanensis amongst them) and they are all very fine plants and tightly clump-forming with richly coloured canes in good light.

Himalayacalamus hookerianus is another beauty with blue-ish canes that turn to orange/red with green stripes in the sun, whilst Drepanostachyum khasianum has warm brick-red canes.

22 Aug, 2010


I see that nurseryman Michael Bell, in his book on Temperate Bamboos, says of P. nigra:

"It is compact in cool areas but can run excessively in warm gardens"

22 Aug, 2010


...I never fail to be amazed by the wealth of knowledge on this site. Ilex....I have a lot more specimens to look up now! Thank you all again for your kind responses.

23 Aug, 2010

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