There are two different types of bamboo; the running (monopodial) bamboo that spreads quickly from underground rhizomes and the clumping (sympodial) bamboo that does not spread quickly, but confines its growth to the one clump. The running bamboo can become a nuisance in the home garden as it has been known to invade the neighbor's property - even as far as several blocks away.
It must be said that running bamboo doesnâ€™t always behave aggressively. Much depends not only the species, but also on the environment such as climate, soil type and water availability. Bamboos seldom flower, which is a good thing because once they flower they die out completely. And while the seeds can be collected and used to renew your bamboo plot, you could end up with a different kind of bamboo, as seed doesnâ€™t grow true to the parent plant.
The soil for bamboo should be slightly acidic and most types like full sun and plenty of water, with fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. However, when planting the bamboo, donâ€™t allow the fertilizer to contact the roots as it could burn them. If you have running bamboo, then the whole area should be saturated before planting, but with the clumping types you can restrict watering to the area of the clump.
Large bamboo types like full sun, but there are other kinds of bamboo that appreciate a little shade during the hottest part of the day. These are the fargesias - cold-hardy bamboos.
Fargesia rufa or Japanese Bamboo is a cold-hardy clumping bamboo that makes an excellent privacy or noise screen. The good thing about growing bamboo for these reasons is that it will grow much more thickly than any other hedging plant - and more quickly too. This variety will grow to 8 feet high in no time at all. Plant the clumps about 4 feet apart and youâ€™ll soon have a hedge.
Of course you donâ€™t have to grow them into a hedge. If you just want one or two clumps, thatâ€™s fine too. Some experts recommend the running bamboo for a hedge, but if you live in town, the roots can run into the neighborâ€™s place and cause problems - as already mentioned.
Some plants labeled as bamboo are imposters, so watch out for them. Mexican bamboo is one of these. It is really Japanese knotweed, but it is called bamboo due to its hollow stalk and joints that resemble bamboo.
Heavenly bamboo and lucky bamboo are also imposters. Heavenly bamboo does resemble the true bamboo, but is really a tall growing variety of nandina domestica. It can become a pest in certain areas. Lucky bamboo with its fascinating, corkscrew stem is a houseplant whose real name is Dracaena sanderiana. Great to grow, but not a bamboo at all.