Golden and black bamboo update

A week ago I wrote about the “shooting” of our running bamboos. Shooting, if you remember, means producing new shoots that will turn into “culms” (or canes).

Today I’d like to post a quick update on our two most prolific shooters: golden Koi (Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’) and black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra).

I can’t believe how many new shoots Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’ is producing this year. I’ve only had the plant for a couple of years. It started out as a small division with two culms; this year there are eight new culms!

Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’

In addition to regular shoots I also have a whip shoot. This is when a rhizome—the woody underground structure from which the shoots/culms originate—hits an obstacle, is redirected to the surface, and turns into a culm, albeit often a relatively weak one. Considering how many nice-sized new culms there are, I will remove the whip shoot soon. In fact, after the culms have reached their final size and have started to leaf out, I will probably move this bamboo to a larger pot.

Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’:
a real shoot (right) and a “whip shoot” (left)

As you can see in the next photo, rhizomes sometimes surface and then duck right back into the soil. It’s very possible that the whip shoot in the previous photo is attached to this rhizome.

Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’ rhizome, surfacing and ducking back under

The next couple of photos show the progress our black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) has made in the last week. Quite impressive! The shoots have now become culms reaching towards the sky.

Phyllostachys nigra on 4/12/11
Phyllostachys nigra on 4/20/11
Check the height of these new culms!

I can’t wait for the culms to leaf out and then turn black over the next season or two. This will be a stunning potted plant in a year’s time!


  1. Make sure you document the repotting process. It won't be easy.

    I like that red pot, at least the part I can see. Are there other posts that show more of that pot? (I love pots!)

  2. Alan, we have five or six or these red pots. They are 18 inches tall x 22 inches wide at the top.

    You can see some more photos of them here.

    Thanks to their V-shape, it's actually quite easy removing plants.

  3. It's can't quite tell the scale, but is the nigra doing about 2 inches per day? My two nigras (Bory and Daikokuchiku) haven't started shooting yet.

  4. David, I wasn't keeping track, but the tallest ones on the nigra are now more than 4.5 ft tall.

    I have a juvenile Phyllostachys nigra 'Megurochiku', and it hasn't started to shoot yet either. It's in a shadier location, maybe that's why.

    I found another shoot on my Koi yesterday. At that rate, the pot is going to burst soon :-).


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