Complete guide to umbrella bamboo care
If you want to bring a touch of the Orient to your outdoor oasis, umbrella bamboos are graceful grasses that thrive with a bit of hands-on care.
Beloved by pandas and people alike, bamboo grasses make great additions to any outdoor space. They can grow pretty fast with some minimal care, while their impressive height and sprawling leaves make them ideal for creating a private bamboo curtain. Here's a rundown of some basic bamboo needs:
- Grow bamboo in pots to keep control of these fast-growers.
- Keep the soil moist, but not completely soaked.
- Most outdoor temperatures will be fine, but shelter the bamboo from cold winds.
- Provide a mix of bright sunlight and cooling shade throughout the day.
- Cut back old growth every spring.
About umbrella bamboo
Umbrella bamboo (fargesia murielae) is a gorgeous variety that is native to mountainous parts of China. Benji gets his ravishing good looks from his pointed long leaves that arch down like an umbrella. His canes tend to gather together in dense clumps, and he keeps his lush green colour even throughout the winter months.
If left to his own devices, Benji tends to tower over the garden. He can reach almost four metres high, but compared to other types of bamboo, Benji is a relatively slow grower. If you're extremely lucky, you might even get to see him flower, although this can take decades.
Are umbrella bamboos easy to care for?
Bamboos can be a little fussy when it comes to sunlight and soil, and their flowing leaves will need a fair amount of trimming. If you're planning on planting them directly into the ground, be aware that they can quickly take over the garden if they aren’t contained. Bamboos are perfectly happy to just stand in their pots and watch the world go by.
Bamboos are evergreen perennials, which means that they don’t lose all of their leaves at the end of the growing season. Instead, they begin to regrow in the spring at the start of each growing season.
As a garden grass, bamboos are also very tolerant of animals. They’re not toxic at all to pets or young children, and unless you have a pet panda running around, they’re unlikely to suffer any unwanted nibbles.
How much light does my umbrella bamboo need?
Bamboos thrive with a good balance of sun and shade. If they’re forced to sunbathe all day, they can dry out and their lovely leaves will burn. Aim for half a day of bright light before letting them relax in the shade.
How often should I water my umbrella bamboo?
Bamboos are a big fan of soil that holds a little bit of moisture because they don't like to dry out completely. That said, they also hate being soggy, so avoid overwatering them. A quick finger dip test will let you know if a bamboo needs a drink.
What’s the best temperature for my umbrella bamboo?
Cold winds can quickly put bamboos in a bad mood, so make sure they sit in a calm, sheltered spot. Umbrella bamboos are used to cold spells in their mountain home, down to as low as -15° Celsius. They should be just fine staying outdoors all year round, even in the winter.
Should I repot my umbrella bamboo?
Because umbrella bamboos aren’t a super fast-growing variety, they should be happy for a while in their pot. However, if their roots and canes have completely filled up the pot, they'll need bigger lodgings.
Don't repot bamboo during the growing season, especially if you can spot new shoots coming through. It’s best to repot them in early spring. They should take around five to ten years to reach their full height.
Does my umbrella bamboo need any extra love?
Keeping your bamboo’s flourishing fronds under control is the biggest challenge. They'll need a pretty thorough trim every spring before they start growing again. Thin out all the older growth that looks limp, old, or weak to give the plant a new lease of life.
Feed bamboos a dose of liquid fertiliser once a month during the spring and summer to help them fill out a bit. If they start getting too frisky, trim off a few flowering shoots to smarten them up.
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