From bush sage to bamboo

In the fall, I bought a 15-gallon emerald bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’) from Bamboo Sourcery in Sebastopol, CA. As part of their going-of-business sale, it was 50% off and hence a great deal. We couldn’t immediately decide where to put it so it stayed in its nursery container through the winter. However, as the months progressed it became clear that it was severely pot-bound and really needed to go in ground.

Outside our front yard fence we had two full-sized Mexican bush sages (Salvia leucantha), which do really well in our climate even though they get knocked back a bit by frost. On the spur of the moment, we decided that one of them was enough (we also have the dwarf cultivar ‘Santa Barbara’, which is maybe a third the size), so I dug one up and divided it into three large chunks. I offered them on Freecycle, and within a day they were gone.

The bush sage’s spot is now occupied by the emerald bamboo. Tattered from the wind, it doesn’t look real hot at the moment. However, with some TLC, water, fertilizer, and sun, it will soon produce new leaves that will lend this area a cool tropical feel.

Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’ in its 15-gallon nursery container which kept getting blown over by the wind
Mexican bush sage that got removed. It had sustained some frost damage in the winter so I cut it to the ground in January. With spring finally here, it would grown to 5 ft. within a few months.
Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’ in its new home
New Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’ culm

Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’ is a tropical clumper, hardy to at least 20°F, with a very upright habit and the potential to grow to 35 ft. and produce 2" culms. Since the area where it’s planted is only a few feet from the sidewalk, I will definitely trim it as needed to keep it growing vertically, with no branches sticking out into the sidewalk. Here is a photo of a mature clump, clearly showing how straight this bamboo grows.

Bamboo Sourcery is back in business as of March 15th, 2011. They’re currently running a 50% off sale on select bamboos. Their former nursery manager and bamboo guru, Jesús Mora, is now with West County Oasis Bamboo Garden in Santa Rosa.


  1. Yay, bamboo! Although I love salvia leucantha, you can grow it from a small plant to 4' tall and wide in one summer like those of us in cold climates. The bamboo will look great there!

    Is that the post from a streetlight? If so the bamboo will also block its light from hitting your house/windows at night -- was that deliberate? I know I'd do that. =)

  2. I have B. textilis on my bamboo wish list, although, for my needs, I might go for the 'gracilis' cultivar. In the mean time, I'll enjoy yours vicariously.

  3. David, I would be more than happy with 'Gracilis'. The only reason I got 'Mutabilis' was because it was on sale. But I must admit, it has the potential to become a really stunning plant. I have yet to see a bambusa I don't like.


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