Bamboo rustles cheerfully in the slightest breeze, and the plant creates a certain liveliness in your garden. Despite its delicate appearance, it’s a tough plant that can easily survive drastic weather changes, and is available in many varieties, sizes and colours. The most common colour is green, but there’s also a species that changes from grey-green through pale grey to matte green, developing exciting black stems after a couple of years.
Soil or container?
For all varieties, it’s a good idea to think in advance about where you want to place Bamboo in your garden. There are species that spread very rapidly underground and when you plant those, they can be placed in a container or in root-restricting material – unless you want to create a Bamboo forest. Ordinary anti-root fabric or a PVC container are not enough, since the roots will happily burst through it. There are also pollen-forming Bamboo species that don’t produce runners and stay neatly in their spot.
Primeval plant with primeval power
Bamboo is a member of the Gramineae family, the grasses. There are some 1500 different species around the globe. The plant originates from (sub)tropical regions in Central and South America, in northern Australia and southern and eastern Asia, particularly China. It’s a very ancient plant – fossil remains have been found which date from 145 million years B.C. The fact that the plant is still thriving says something about its primeval power.
The word Bamboo derives from bamboo, a word from the Indian Kannada language. Although the spelling can vary, the word is pronounced the same everywhere.
In China Bamboo symbolises being direct and standing up in the face of adversity.
Some Bamboo species in the tropics can grow 91cm in 24 hours.
Bamboo is increasingly being used as a raw material for textiles, construction, furniture and flooring, amongst other things. Virtually all parts of the plant can be used. The wood is so strong that it’s known as ‘green steel’.
Bamboo’s biggest fans are pandas: they can happily munch on it all day long.