In the Home or on a Terrace

Bamboo is an excellent subject for container planting. Many species adapt easily to life in a vessel, combining well with other plants. If grown indoors, bamboo is a tough houseplant tolerant of the dry conditions of a winter home. Aside from regular watering, they require little maintenance and upkeep.

By choosing an appropriate species, bamboo can be grown in a low light situation or full sun. Many dwarf varieties prefer shade and will tolerate a low light environment. Indocalamus tesselatus, with its large dark green leaves, would do well in this situation. Sasa palmata is also a good choice for low light.

A variegated leaf bamboo would contribute unusual color and texture in a cluster of indoor plants. The dwarf whitestripe bamboo, Pleioblastus fortunei, will handle low to medium light. Sasaella masamuneana albostriata, which has larger leaves and bolder variegation, is also a handsome choice. Variegated Simon’s bamboo, Pleioblastus simonii variegatus, is a striking plant that can grow upwards of five feet in a container. It has both wide and narrow leaves on the same plant, many of which are accented with fine white lines.

Where there is ample space and light, a Phyllostachys species would also adapt well indoors. Most of the timber bamboos can grow up to ten feet or more in a container. They can be kept smaller by confining their roots to a fourteen inches or smaller pot. A taller bamboo will provide a textured background for flowering plants or look attractive on its own. The Temple bamboo, Semiarundinaria fastuosa, is another good choice for a taller specimen. The canes on this species turn shades of red, providing a pleasing contrast with the dark green leaves. It is important to provide these taller species with ample light. In low light, new shoots will be under developed and unable to support themselves.

There are many bamboos that are not winter hardy in Arkansas but would do well indoors. Most of these are taller varieties and require bright light or a sunny window. The many cultivars of Bambusa multiplex make handsome indoor plants. Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ has striped culms that arch at the tips, giving it a graceful appearance. These are large-scale plants that require a bit of space when mature. Confining the roots in a smaller pot will keep it in scale with the average room.

Another good choice would be the marbled bamboo, Chimonobambusa marmorea. The variegated form is also handsome. These two have tightly clustered smaller leaves and should grow to four to five feet in a container. The square bamboo, Chimonobambusa quadrangularis, has an upright habit and can grow between six to eight feet in a container. Chimonobambusa species are active growers in the fall and winter and will grow best in bright light.

Containerized bamboo plants should not be left outside over winter. The root system, which would be protected in the ground, will not tolerate being frozen. If space in the house is limited, any size plant can be brought into a frost-free area over winter. Most taller bamboo need a period of dormancy and can tolerate temperatures just above freezing. While dormant (35° - 45° F) all hardy bamboos can be stored in a low light area. As temperatures warm in the spring, however, these higher light plants must have adequate sun to sustain new spring growth.

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