No matter if you have a stunningly tropical, Oriental, or a contemporary type of garden, there’s one set of plants that’ll work flawlessly to fill your space in, and this is bamboo. Most types of bamboo are beautiful, lofty plants that have a history that dates back to a few centuries. Along with working wonderfully as a hedge or privacy screen, this plant also falls into the feature plant category.
Unfortunately, types of bamboo are one plant that many new gardeners misunderstand, and they are intimidated by the thought of growing them in their own homes. However, you shouldn’t be intimidated because bamboo, especially the clumping varieties, are very easy to start and maintain. The running species of bamboo can get invasive if you don’t take steps to contain it, but you can still manage it if you follow the correct guidelines.
We’re going to outline 17 popular types of bamboo that you can use to spruce up your landscape. You can go with one type of bamboo or mix and match to create a stunning space.
1. Arrow Bamboo
Japanese arrow bamboo is also called Pseudosasa japonica. The name comes from the time period when Japanese Samurai used the hard, stiff canes of the bamboo to make arrows. This type of bamboo is native to Korea and certain Japanese regions like Honshu and Kyushu. They can survive well when you plant them in zones 6 to 10 in the United States from southern Connecticut to Florida.
This is a very cold-hardy type of bamboo that can survive when temperatures dip to zero degrees Fanhreheit. They can grow in full shade or full sun, and they offer palm-like leaves. The leaves can get between 5 and 13 inches long at full maturity. It typically displays a yellowish-brown coloring, and it can survive if you put it in containers near the salty air.
2. Black Bamboos
Known as olive green upright canes, Phyllostachy nigra or black bamboo can be a stunning addition to any home garden. They take on a marbled brownish-hue right away, and they’ll turn completely black over the next couple of growing seasons. Each of the canes passes through various color development phases that increases the multi-colored look. They should have a completely smooth and shiny surface and be around two inches wide.
3. Buddha Bamboo
Native to specific Chinese regions, Bambusa ventricosa or the Buddha Bamboo variant is very popular because it displays bumpy nodes that look very similar to Buddha’s belly. Unlike other common types of bamboo you’ll see outside, this is usually a more ornamental plant that you’ll have in containers. It does best in soil that stays consistently fertile and moist.
Over time, the plant’s culm bulges and gets very exaggerated in the proportions. This is when you want to keep it in completely dry soil without any excess fertilizer. This is a tropical plant, and it’ll grow decently well in temperate and cool climates. If you live in cooler zones, you want to keep the plant indoors to ensure that it thrives. Since this is usually a non-invasive type of bamboo, it works well as a privacy screen. Left alone, this plant can grow roughly 55-feet high, and it does best when you plant it in zones 9 to 12.
4. Chilean Bamboo
This type of bamboo belongs to the Poaceae grass family, and this is an evergreen bamboo that you find in parts of South America. Unlike other bamboo species, Chilean bamboo will survive if it gets hit by frost, and you typically put it in temperate areas. This is exactly why you’ll find them growing in dense arrangements in Chile, Valdivia, and Argentina.
In the wild, this bamboo type can control several forest dynamics. For instance, it can easily control the growth of several trees so that they don’t have very fast growth and end up dying when it gets cold. They also have hair lanceolate, and this is a form of leaf that has a spine along the end. The flowers from this plant are very light brown, and it can easily bloom for 60 years.
5. Clumping Bamboo
Clumping bamboo is one hugely popular type of bamboo because they stay in the territory where you plant them and they’re non-invasive. The underground stems are called rhizomes, and they differ from other non-clumping bamboo or timber. They form a u-shape instead of spreading out horizontally. The new culms will pop up next to the parent plant and spread a few inches each year. They can get between 8 and 25 feet high, depending on the species you choose.
6. Dwarf Green Stripe Bamboo
You can find this type of bamboo in parts of East Asia, and it’s native to China and Japan. You can also find it in Korea and throughout Europe and in parts of New Zealand. The most striking aspect of this bamboo type is the striped green leaves that make it look stunning in the spring and summer months. Dwarf green stripe bamboo is a deciduous plant.
People routinely mow this type of bamboo to the ground during the early fall or later summer months to keep the appeal and charm. This is a generally non-fussy bamboo type, and they’re able to withstand extreme temperatures without a problem. So, if you want to have a type of bamboo at home, this is a good choices because it can survive a range of temperatures.
7. Fargesia Bamboo
This is another clumping type of bamboo that falls into the grass family’s flowering plant section. It originated in China, and you can find it growing in areas of Vietnam and in the eastern Himalayas. Some Fargesia species get cultivated to be ornamental plants like the umbrella bamboo or the fountain bamboo.
This plant will develop small to medium mountain clumps as it grows. They like to grow in the alpine conifer forests in East Asia. The Chinese call them Jian Zhu, and this translates into arrow bamboo. They also have a reputation for being the world’s most hardy type of bamboo, and they’re a non-invasive species. The decrease in the number of this bamboo had a very negative impact on the panda population in China. You can find them in nurseries all over the world because of their thick clumping habits and their affordability.
8. Giant Bamboo
Also called Dendrocalamus Giganteus, this is a giant subtropical clumping type of bamboo. It’s native to Southeast Asia, and it’s one of the biggest bamboo species in the world. It’s a grayish-green bamboo that grows in close clumps and usually gets just under 100 feet tall. It grows quickly, and it can grow 50 centimeters per day when the conditions are right. You’ll find it growing along ponds and river banks in high or low altitudes. It’s native to Myanmar, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
The bamboo’s culms are straight and offer a powdery appearance. When you dry them, they get a smooth surface with a brownish-green coloring. The young shoots of this plant feature a purplish-black coloring. It’s very popular in India as a material for bridge construction. It also works to help reinforce scaffolding, concrete, house frames in walls, ladders, tiles, and floor coverings. It’s popular for thatching too.
9. Green-Glaucous Bamboo
Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens or Green-Glaucous Bamboo is known to grow very well and spread quickly to create a thick grove. Due to the quality, they work well as a solid privacy screen or a living fence. It’s best known for the canes that emerge with a very deep emerald green coloring. With time, they take on a lime green coloring before maturing to a greenish-yellow color. The canes on this bamboo are fully striped, and they have white along the nodes. The foliage is elongated, medium-sized, and wide.
10. Guadua Bamboo
This is a type of bamboo that belongs to the Neotropical genus, and it’s a thorny bamboo that you’ll find growing in Uruguay. You may find some species of this bamboo in Trinidad as well, and in parts of Northern Mexico. The biggest concentration of this species is in the Amazon basin. This bamboo primarily grows in regions that are at lower altitudes, and they rarely grow in altitudes that exceed 2,500 meters.
Just like many forest-grown bamboos, this type of bamboo plays a vital role in the diet of Amazonian and Atlantic rats. In the United States, this bamboo is also considered to be very important because it’s one of the main raw materials that gets used for building houses on Ecuadorian riverbanks and in the coastal regions. As a building material, this bamboo type does very well since it has several watershed protection attributes. Some people also use it for mechanical properties.
Unfortunately, the natural timbers of this type of bamboo have been depleted significantly due to overexploitation. Since this bamboo species plays a huge role in reducing carbon dioxide from the air, it’s important that people start using this type of bamboo much more sustainably.
This also isn’t a hugely common choice for your home garden, but you can grow them if you have enough space to dedicate to them. You want to try and choose a sympodial bamboo rhizome to plant in your garden because they form smaller clumps as they grow. Usually, the first seedlings mature in roughly five years, and the height will stabilize after five years. So, if you have the space and are patient, you could add this plant to your garden.
11. Hedge Bamboo
This is a beautiful evergreen that is known for developing very pretty canes as it matures, and most of them develop very stunning greenish-blue culms. However, the bluish tings are more popular in younger plants because as the plants start to mature, they lose this blue tinge and the canes turn a greenish-yellow.
The canes on this hedge bamboo are roughly two inches diameter, and they tend to have an upright growth habit. They like to be in a warmer climate because it promotes rapid growth. If the temperature starts to drop, the growth will take a significant hit. This isn’t an invasive type of bamboo, but it can easily spread to create a smaller bamboo orchard that is 20 feet wide.
Bamboo is one plant that makes a very popular hedge because they usually get upwards of 40 to 80 feet tall, and they grow in tight clumps that make it hard to see through. Bamboo by Fumi Yamazaki / CC BY 2.0
12. Japanese Cane Bamboo
The unique feature of this type of bamboo is the fact that it may be named after Japan, but China is where you’ll find it primarily cultivated. This plant has very smooth canes to it, and they turn a stunning shade of darker green when they reach full maturity. They’re thick, grow close together, and they make a nice privacy shield for your garden or yard.
13. Moso Bamboo
Moso bamboo is a very elegant type of bamboo that you can grow in your home garden. They can get an impressive 60 feet tall at full maturity, and they’re one the the tallest and hardiest bamboos in the world. They have very wide and thick culms on them, and they can get up to eight inches. The canes will be a very soft green color when they’re younger, and they take on a yellowish cast as they mature. You’ll get a very soft, velvety covering on them.
This type of bamboo does best in moist and warm areas where they can thrive very aggressively without being a problem. In the wild, you’ll find this bamboo growing in parts of Japan, China, and regions in East Asia.
14. Painted Bamboo
If you’re trying to get your hands or ornamental types of bamboo, this is a fantastic choice to consider. The trees are very well-known for the stripes on the culms and the golden canes have very unique markings as they mature. Unlike other bamboo species, the canes on this bamboo have gorgeous patterns on every node that add visual interest to your space.
At full maturity, this type of bamboo ranges from 40 to 60 feet, and it’ll steadily arch under the weight of the foliage to create a very graceful and full look. The leaves are very narrow but long, and they can get up to seven inches long. It’s a non-invasive species that you won’t have to worry about taking over your space, and they come with a great root system to help them control erosion.
15. River Cane Bamboo
River can bamboo is native to the southeastern and south-central regions of the United States, including Oklahoma, Texas, and Maryland. There are two main subspecies available that you can pick, and you may hear one of the subspecies referred to as the switch cane plant.
This type of bamboo is actually a perennial grass type, and it loves to grow in wetter habitats. The cane offers a hollow, rounded stem that can get up to 33 feet tall at full maturity. It has a larger network of underground rhizomes that are very thick to spread out. You’ll see lance-shaped leaves, and the inflorescence has racemes or panicles. One individual cane on this plant can live for ten years under the correct conditions. It produces seeds and flowers irregularly, and the surrounding conditions will dictate when it does.
You can find this bamboo growing in different places because it grows in oak, pine, cypress, cottonwood, and ash tree forests. A lot of other plants like the wax myrtle, creeping blueberry, and blue huckleberry use it as a solid support system. The canes are found in savannas, pine barrens, bogs, pocosins, riparian woods, and floodplains. They do flood easily, but they’re also tolerant of wildfires.
The Cherokee have a long history of using this type of bamboo in basketry, and they also used it to maintain canebrakes through periodic cutting and burning. After Europeans came and settled on the lands, they stopped this practice and this led to the depletion of the numbers of this plant. This led to the basket making art being virtually lost, and this was an important part of the Cherokees economy. Many indigenous people used this type of bamboo to make bows, blowguns, medicine, arrows, walls, flutes, knives, candles, sleeping mats, tobacco pipes, and fish traps.
16. Timber Bamboo
Timber bamboo is native to China, and you primarily harvested this type of bamboo for timber as the name suggests. The canes are very glossy and smooth. When this plant is young, the plants are emerald green. Eventually, as the plant matures, this fades to a yellow-green tint. This bamboo will do very well when you put it in an area that gets bright, full sun, and you need to keep the soil consistently moist. The best planting zones are five to nine.
17. Umbrella Bamboo
If you want a non-invasive, cute type of bamboo for your house, this may be a great pick to have on hand. It’s a 100% non-invasive species, and this means that it won’t take over the area you plant it in. It’s a solid and elegant bamboo plant that will adapt to virtually any temperatures without any damage.
It has yellowish-green canes on it, and this is a very well-known species for the slender and long leaves. The foliage looks very dainty, and the leaves have a greenish-gray undertone that you don’t see on many bamboos. Also, you won’t need to stake or snap it to keep it healthy. This bamboo grows very rapidly in thicker clumps, and they can get between four to five feet wide. They like to be grown in partially-shaded areas because direct sunlight can negatively impact the leaves’ texture.
This bamboo can grow up to 15 feet high at full maturity, and it’s easy to grow and very versatile. It’s also very elegant and non-invasive. Once you get this bamboo for your garden, you’ll realize that it doesn’t need a lot of input from you to grow. It’s a very adaptable choice, and they’ve very hardy.
The defining quality of this type of bamboo are the yellowish-green canes that have slightly narrow and slender leaves. The foliage is very dainty, and it has a vibrant green color with a greenish-gray undertone. They form a gentle arc as they grow due to the weight of the foliage, and they don’t need to be staked or snapped to keep them healthy. This is a very fast-growing bamboo species that you’ll find in clumps that will only get between four and five feet wide.
Clumping Bamboo or Running Bamboo
Before you pick out your type of bamboo, you should decide if you want a clumping or running variety. These are the two distinct types, and they are:
- Clumping Bamboo – This type of bamboo is very nice if you want to have impressive canes but you don’t want something that spreads sideways and takes over. They make non-invasive clumps that are very nice, and they’re also easier to manage.
- Running Bamboo – This type of bamboo can very quickly invade the rest of your yard or garden if you don’t control the roots as they grow underground. This can be a straightforward process as bamboo has more shallow root systems. You’ll need to keep an eye on them and remove them as they spread or put them in dedicated containers.
Now you have a list of various types of bamboo to consider when you fill in your yard. You should explore these options and pick the plant that works best for your needs and wants. Since most of the plants on the list are very easy to maintain, you won’t have many issues when you grow them at home.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.