- The fastest-growing privacy hedge
- Black canes give you a unique color
- Doesn’t need maintenance- just watch it quickly grow into a dense bamboo wall!
You can transform your landscape and give it a boldly exotic look with the commanding presence of Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra). Whether you grow Black Bamboo for its ornamental design appeal or one of its many utilitarian uses, it’ll rise high to meet some of your landscape-design goals.
An Evergreen Privacy Fence
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a plant with faster growth than Black Bamboo. This plant’s robust nature gives it the ability to reach a height of up to 10 feet each year. As it grows, Black Bamboo forms a natural privacy fence — almost as fast as you can construct a wooden privacy fence in your yard! And even if your HOA by-laws place a restriction on the height of constructed fences, you’ll be able to bypass this restriction and have a taller-than-allowed green fence by planting Black Bamboo. As an evergreen plant, which retains its leaves year-round, Black Bamboo continues to breathe life into stark winter landscapes even after deciduous plants drop their leaves. You’ll notice Black Bamboo will shed some of its foliage, particularly in springtime, but this is a natural part of the growing process as new leaves develop to replace the older ones. You can rake and remove the dropped foliage or leave it on the ground around your Black Bamboo plants as mulch.
Unique, Dark Canes
Height, color and texture collide in a stunning threefold combination:
Its sheer height alone gives Black Bamboo a dramatic stand-up-and-take-notice appearance among the other plants in your yard and garden. This plant doesn’t dilly-dally about reaching its mature height — in only two years, it can grow up to 30 feet tall!
The color intensifies the drama — black stems with green leaves! You’ll also see green stems on Black Bamboo, because the new growth emerges green and turns black in the second year. This interplay of green and black offers a beautiful contrast of height and color.
Black Bamboo’s tall stems, called canes or culms, grow up to 2 inches in diameter, and they are joined by textured nodes that break up the smooth intervals between the nodes.
Asian-Inspired Garden Design
Bamboo is a staple plant in Asian garden themes. It’s grown as an ornamental plant and used to add structural design in the form of screens, trellises, and fences, which are made from the canes. If you grow Black Bamboo, you can harvest some of the canes to make these simple structures for your own Asian garden. Or you can simply grow a stand of Black Bamboo as a backdrop for your garden, forming a garden wall that features smaller plants or structures in front of it.
Striking Container Plant
You can grow Black Bamboo as a container plant for your deck, patio or poolside. And you can even enjoy Black Bamboo as a houseplant in your sunroom or in front of a sunny window. Although the pot will help restrict its height, you may have to keep the top pruned to keep it from brushing the ceiling. Because it spreads by runners (underground stems called rhizomes), use a large pot to give it room to grow. You’ll want to re-pot your container plant every few years to keep the growth from cracking the pot.
For Vegetable and Flower Gardeners
If you grow vegetables, you can make simple bamboo ‘trellises’ for your climbing crops, such as beans, squash, and cucumbers. Cut five Black Bamboo canes and tie them together at the top, leaving the bottom ends free. Press the loose ends firmly into the soil at equal distances from each other, and sow seeds at the base of these legs. For tomatoes, you can make simple four-sided tomato cages out of Black Bamboo canes to support their growth. And if you have tall flowering plants that need support, such as dahlias, peonies, and gladioli, Black Bamboo canes make plant stakes that are as beautiful as functional.
Note: You may need to tie your climbing crops or flowering plants to the bamboo canes or weave the stems through the openings as the plants grow.
Black Bamboo is a perennial in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 through 10, where its mature canes can reach 30 feet tall. If you live in Zone 6, you may still be able to grow Black Bamboo, although the canes can be damaged or killed during winter. A heavy mulch cover helps insulate the roots, from which new growth may emerge in spring. In Zone 6, where cold winters may kill the top growth of Black Bamboo, your plants may only grow to 15 feet tall each season.
Controlling Vigorous Growth
Black Bamboo will spread, but you can keep its growth in check if you’re diligent. The ‘spring shooting season’ describes the yearly occurrence of the new shoots sprouting from the ground. Most of Black Bamboo’s new growth — nearly 90 percent — occurs during the spring shooting season, so this is the prime time to control its spread. The new shoots are softer than the hardened, mature canes, so it’s easy to cut, mow or kick them down where you do not want the spread of new growth. You can also install barriers, which you press into the ground, but you must install them properly (and deeply enough) to contain Black Bamboo’s growth.
Sun and Soil Preferences
Although Black Bamboo grows in partial sun, it prospers in full sun. It responds best to soil that’s rich inorganic matter. Black Bamboo must have soil that drains well, so if your soil is poor or compacted, apply up to 6 inches of compost or well-aged animal manure over the entire planting area and incorporate it to a depth of 12 inches to loosen and enrich the soil. If necessary, adjust the soil pH to 6.0 to 6.5.
Pre-planting tip: If you have underground utilities, call a locate company before you dig or till so they can mark any underground utility lines.
Planting and Care Tips
- Placement- Plant Black Bamboo so the top of its root ball is a little higher than the surrounding soil, and firm the soil tightly around the roots.
- Fertilizer- Wait until the following season after planting to apply fertilizer to your new plants, because you may burn the roots if you fertilize at planting time. As a heavy feeder, Black Bamboo benefits from the high-dosage recommendation on water-soluble fertilizers. You can also use a slow-release formulation or a fertilizer that’s blended for turf.
- Water- For the first six months ‘– until Black Bamboo is established ‘– water it once or twice each week if natural rainfall the previous week didn’t supply 1 inch of water. Applying a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist. After the first six months, continue to water your plants so the soil stays slightly moist. If you notice the edges of the leaves beginning to curl, this usually indicates the need for water.
- Pruning- You may prefer to keep your Black Bamboo unpruned, particularly if you want a dense look. If you prefer a more airy appearance, you can thin your Black Bamboo by removing the older canes.