Bamboo surprise: update

A little while ago I wrote about a bamboo experiment that has yielded surprising results. Last year I planted a piece of rhizome with no above-ground growth in a 22” tub, not expecting much. Maybe precisely because I had such low expectations, I was taken by surprise when fat shoots 1” in diameter began to emerge.

In just a week, the shoots have grown into 4 ft. culms and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Today it rained (a very rare occurrence for late May) and the extra moisture will be like fuel on fire. I can’t wait to see how tall these culms will eventually get. The limiting factor may be the fact that there is less than 9 inches of soil in that tub!

This bamboo is a running species, Phyllostachys viridis. It is a giant and has the potential to grow to 50 ft. with 3” culms. I’m planning on planting this bamboo at my in-laws’ property in Mount Shasta later this summer, but by then the culms might be too tall to fit in our van!

Phyllostachys viridis last week…
… and this week
The culm sheath—the casing covering the emerging culm to protect it and the developing branches from damage—sure looks weird on this species.
The culm sheaths are striped and mottled even though the culms are just a plain green.

Actually, culm sheaths are an important feature to distinguish one bamboo species from another. Nobody really knows why the culm sheaths on many bamboo species have a truly unique look. Maybe they help camouflage the emerging culms so animals don’t see—and hence eat—them?


  1. Nice! My potted viridis had culms that size already, so I'm eager to see what happens when it shoots. Interestingly, the rhizome that escaped the pot into the ground sent up another little shoot.

    I guess I should say the *other* rhizome that escaped because I dug up the other one already. Didn't know there was another.

  2. Alan, did your rhizomes escape through the drain hole(s)? I punched a good dozen small holes in the bottom of my galvanized tub, and I'm hoping they're too small for a rhizome to escape through. But to be safe, the tub rests on concrete pavers.

  3. Those shoot sheaths look a bit similar to edulis bicolor with those light, but defined spots except viridis has a base color of green while bicolor sheaths are yellow with some green.

    Here's how bicolor shoots looks


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