Is bamboo an option for me? Not always...

If you want to grow a living fence that will quickly provide a beautiful barrier, bamboo is usually the perfect choice.  But not always.  There are some situations where it simply won't work.  The following email from a person in Missouri describes one such situation:

I am getting ready to move into a mobile home park after living on nearly a 1/4 acre with a huge yard for 15 years.  It is a nice mobile home park but I would like to block the sun on the one side of the home and the view of my neighbors as well.  I want to plant a hedge of bamboo, we are not allowed to have fences but we can plant trees.

I live in Missouri and I want to cover a length of about 30-40 feet only.  I want it to be at least 12-15 feet tall but not 50 to 60, would prefer the height to be no more than 25 or so.  We do get cold winters here hitting zero (occasionally below zero) and sometimes the wind chill factor goes below.

I noticed that some of the bamboo survived while being in containers.  Can they grow indoors?  Will the container bamboo survive cold winters?  I definitely do not want to worry about the bamboo overtaking my neighbors or spreading where I do not want it to go.

Is bamboo an option for me?

My response:
I'm sorry, but bamboo really isn't an option for you.  It is too cold in Missouri for clumping bamboos, which is non-invasive.  The only types of bamboo that will survive your temperatures are the running bamboos and running bamboos are invasive plants.  If you plant them in the ground, they will spread throughout the neighborhood.  They would not be an appropriate choice for your situation.

What about growing them in pots?  Since you are wanting to cover a 30' to 40' span and have plants 15' tall, you would need 5 to 10 plants.  If you were to put those bamboo in pots, they'd be cumbersome to move every year from indoors to outdoors.  That doesn't seem like a practical solution to your problem either.

I wish I could offer more encouragement but bamboo is not the right choice for every situation.  In most of the country, running bamboos are all that grows but because it is invasive, it doesn't work everywhere.  Clumping bamboos are non-invasive and grow quickly to form a solid hedge but they only do well in areas where the winter temperature doesn't fall below 15 degrees.

The canes on this stand of Vivax Running Bamboo were bent by a covering of icicles in the winter of 2009 but because it is a running bamboo, the canes were undamaged.  As soon as the ice melted, they straightened up and remained green and leafy.   Running bamboos like cold weather but because they are invasive plants, they are not appropriate for every situation.

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