Aug 162009
 


Melbournians have switched onto bamboos – partly because of a great range of species suitable to Victorian conditions are now available, so the disappointments of species more suited to Sydney are now a thing of the past.

Both graceful and tough, versatile and easy care, bamboo can be used for privacy screening, as a focal point or to create a tropical or Asian feel in the garden. It is tolerant of grey water and sequesters carbon at an astonishing rate.

To ensure success when planting your bamboo, follow these simple rules:

  • After bringing your bamboo home, if you are not planting it immediately, put into a sheltered position and water twice daily if warm.
  • Improve the soil with both compost and manure.
  • Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep or a little deeper than the pot size.
  • Carefully remove the plant from the container with minimal root disturbance and place into the hole. Backfill carefully, pressing the soil in firmly to avoid air pockets.
  • Immediately after planting flood the area with 9L (full watering can or bucket) of water or weak solution of seaweed tonic.
  • Mulch thickly with a coarse organic mulch
  • For the first two years look after the bamboo during the hottest months, water well (grey water is fine).
  • Bamboo is a gross feeder, so feed well with manure or slow release fertiliser over its growing period (spring to summer).
  • Bamboo can be thinned out as desired, or hedged. To thin, cut off a culm (or stem) at or near ground level. This encourages fresh new shoots.

The following varieties are all suitable for Melbourne conditions and are generally available year-round at BAAG.

Weeping Himalayan Bamboo
Drepanostachyum falcatum
A gentle flowing look with a soft touch. Handles the cold of Melbourne with ease, and will look good all year round. Thrives in a sheltered shady position and will not tolerate hot afternoon sun.
Can be left as a wide weeping plant, or tied up for a more upright look. Frequent waterings are needed in summer. Minimum Temperature -12° C
Barballetta Bamboo
Bambusa chungii ‘Barbelletta’
A small version of its parent plant, Chungii. Clumping. It has the same blueish tinge to the culms but has a slightly smaller leaf and is quite tight clumping. Fast growing. Minimum temperature -8C
Golden Striped Hedge Bamboo
Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’
Striking ornamental plant for a hedge or specimen plant in tubs. Tolerates temperatures down to -9 degrees Celsius. They make a fantastic screening plant.
Oldhamii Bamboo
Bambusa ‘Oldhamii’
Marketed as “Giant Timber Bamboo” but at maximum height of 8-10 metres in Melbourne, it’s really a medium-size bamboo, and the useable timber is very straight but not it’s best feature. Oldhamii is a good “all-rounder”; very compact and upright, with large very dark green leaves and is a favourite of many growers and collectors.
Gracilis
Bambusa textilis ‘Gracilis’
From its extremely graceful leaves and nodding top to its strong straight culms. This would have to be the best bamboo plant for Victoria. Handling the cold winters (down to -12C) and hot summers with ease. Tightly clumping culms and very erect it is an excellent choice for a small garden.
Ghost Bamboo
Dendrocalamus minor ‘Amoenus’
Fast grower, tight clumper, not too tall, large leaves, stays green over winter and has extremely impressive (ghostly) white powdered culms when young. Minimum Temperature -12° C

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