Bamboo surprise

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!

Massive shoots

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.


  1. How exciting! I'm still waiting for my potted viridis to shoot, and am now more eager than ever to see what it does. It's in a pot about the same size as your tub, but already has a 10' culm that it produced last year.

    I think you might find it a bit less drought-resistant this year, as it will have a lot more leaves to be supported by a limited root system.

  2. Wow, I think that's the biggest upsize I've ever seen from any bamboo. Once you get it in the year, I wouldn't be surprised if it jumped to 3 inch diameter culms!!

  3. Alan, I agree with you about drought-resistance. I'm sure the plant will need a lot more water this year to support the new growth. Either it will go in the ground at my in-laws this summer, or I'll buy a 2x4 ft. stock tank and keep it here.

    Steve, I want to say it's because I ignored it instead of fussing over it, like I do with most other bamboos :-).


Post a Comment