In the spring of 2010, another bamboo aficionado sent me a length of rhizome (no culms) from Phyllostachys viridis, the all-green version of the popular Robert Young bamboo. The rhizome was a good foot long and looked fresh and viable, but I wasn’t sure whether it would survive. I buried it in a 22-inch galvanized steel tub and half forgot about it. Much to my surprise, new shoots came up within a month and turned into regular culms with an abundance of leaves, including a 7 ft. whip shoot that more or less grows horizontally (on the left in the first photo below).
Since Phyllostachys viridis is hardy to -5°F, it comes as no surprise that it wasn’t fazed by our mild winter. What did surprise me is how drought-tolerant this running bamboo is. While I did water it when I thought of it, that certainly didn’t happen with any kind of regularity. Considering that the soil depth in the tub is around 9 inches, I’m amazed that the plant remained lush and green throughout the summer, fall and winter. You can’t ask much more of a bamboo.
Hold on—yes, you can. You also want big culms. And it looks like this champ that came from such humble beginnings is going to deliver in that respect as well.
|Phyllostachys viridis in 22-inch galvanized steel tub|
Take a look at what’s coming out of the ground!
It’s hard to get a sense of scale from these photos, but the biggest two shoots are very close to an inch in diameter.
|This shoot is 1” in diameter at the base|
|Another 1” shoot|
For comparison, that is double the diameter of the culms produced this spring by our black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).
I have no idea how tall these culms will get considering that the plant’s rhizome and root system is severely constrained by the tub, but I could be in for yet another surprise.
Since this bamboo has the potential to turn into a true giant (50 ft. with 3” culms), I’m thinking it will soon have to go to my in-laws where it will have room to run.