Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Black Bamboo October 11, 2008

Several gardeners in my neighborhood have lovely stands of bamboo growing on the street. I love to walk by them just as a breeze catches their leaves and they make that rustling sound that seems unique to their species.

One adventurous person has planted a truly magnificent black bamboo (Phyllostacys nigra) in the parking strip.

Street black bamboo grove

Not sure if this is a running or clumping type of bamboo, but the gardener seems to have made a good job of containment either way, surrounding the plant with edging and bricks. I saw no evidence that it has jumped the fence, so to speak, and turned up elsewhere.

Bamboo containment

Personally, I am terrified of planting bamboo, since I don’t believe that the clumping ones really are all that easy to keep on top of. But if I had to pick one, I think black bamboo would be it. It’s just so exotic looking, especially here in Seattle. The interplay between the wonderfully variegated leaves, the deep black canes and the sunlight filtering through is just magical.

Black bamboo

Black bamboo is said to be hardy down to about 0 degrees, so it’s not for every climate. For a good general overview of bamboo types and culture requirements, click here.


7 Responses to “Black Bamboo”

  1. Sheila Says:

    I believe black bamboo is a running bamboo. I took all mine out of the garden when we bought the house and put it in pots. It scares me!

    • Deb Strother Says:

      You didn’t happen to save any of the twigs, did you? I am trying to find a large bundle of approx. 1/4″ 6-8″ long black bamboo twigs to use for a high school art project. The bigger the bundle the better.



  2. Racquel Says:

    It does have an interesting texture with the black stems & variegated foliage. To be honest planting bamboo scares me too, because I wouldn’t know if I was getting a clumping or running type.

  3. Thanks v much for comment Karen!….I want you to know that since I wrote before I have been looking for tended parking stips here in Winter Park .. All I can say is they are woefully absent and the residents of Winter Park should be ashamed!but I have not forgotten.. once this drawing is out of the way I am back on the case. Just read your crab apple post and it reminds me so much of autumn in Uk when our whole family was involved in canning, bottling, jam making, pie making..ahhh..

  4. Victorria Says:

    All bamboos run to some extent, though black bamboo is reasonably well-behaved and for that reason is usually regarded as a clumper. The trick is not to plant them in too tight a space, or near paving, without containing the roots in some way. People who say they have no problems with bamboo are usually growing them in the middle of a border, or in a corner of the garden where they’re not going to bother anyone or anything. I have one at the end of my garden which I regard as ‘trouble-free’. I also have one next to the house, which is a pain in the butt. They’re both exactly the same plant, but one is near paving and one isn’t.

  5. Megan Says:

    I have running bamboos in borders, and that isn’t working out at all, but I also have clumping bamboos and know other people with them, and they truly are clumping, I swear. They creep so slowly, if you want to control the size, you just cut back the roots edges of the clump , but I haven’t seen that happen much, and it’s only every couple of years.

  6. Deb Strother Says:

    Does anyone know where I can get a large bundle of 6 – 8″ 1/4″ or so twigs from black bamboo for a classroom sculpture project?

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