Bamboo leafs out from top to bottom

Gerry, a customer from Islamorada, FL wrote to say:
The hedge bamboo we bought from you is doing great.  There are lots of new shoots coming out of the ground and it's getting tall with a lot of full growth on the upper third of the stem. Is it OK to "top off" the tallest ones in order to encourage new leaves near the bottom, or should we wait for it to fill in on its own?

My response:
I would suggest waiting a little while longer, Gerry.  New bamboo shoot grow tall quickly then take their time leafing out beginning at the top and working their way down to the bottom.  Keep in mind that the above-ground growing season continues until November so you can expect many, many more new shoots to emerge before then.  Your clumps will be full and leafy by the end of the year.  At that point, if there are any canes that are bare at the bottom but leafy at the top, you can top them to encourage new lower leaf growth.  Keep in mind though that once a bamboo cane is topped, that cane will never grow any taller. 

New shoots begin to leaf out from the top and work their way down toward the bottom, a process that takes several months to complete.


Handmade bamboo chuppah becomes part of one family's marriage tradition

Customers who purchased our Designer Quality Bamboo Poles in 2010 to make a wedding arch for their daughter recently wrote to update us on the status of their hand-built chuppah.
Janet writes:  Here is the chuppah that my husband, Peter McDonald, made for our daughter's wedding in February 2010.  On Sunday, May 29th, her sister-in-law used it for her wedding, also in NYC.  This time it had more decorations and it looked absolutely beautiful!  It will next be making an appearance on December 3rd for a friend's wedding in New Jersey!  So thanks again for providing the beautiful bamboo!
Bamboo is strong and sturdy and makes long-lasting beautiful structures
A marriage begins beneath a Beautiful Bamboo chuppah!

Before and After - Seabreeze

Hi Jennifer - 15 short months ago we had the pleasure of visiting Beautiful Bamboo. We were challenged with how we could hide a neighbor's recent addition of a 40 foot motor coach and shed. After a lot of research, we decided to go ahead and invest in bamboo. 

We selected 15 Graceful Bamboo plants and upon delivery by Tim to our home, we dug in and planted them. Following your exacting directions, and just over a year later, we are more than thrilled with the results. I have attached a few before an after images to show you how they are progressing.

We continue to be amazed at the speed at which they grow and how hearty they are. We are now seeing a new phase of growth and the new growths are now reaching 20+ in height!

I urge anyone in need of a natural privacy fence to look into bamboo ay Beautiful Bamboo. You will not regret it!
Michael and Grace
Lakeland FL

Jason, a customer from Kissimmee, FL purchased some Seabreeze clumping bamboo in May of 2010.  A year and one month later, his small plant has sent up dozens of lush new shoots that are fuller and taller than the previous year's growth.

Seabreeze is one of our most prolific clumping bamboos, sending up more new shoots every year than most other clumpers.  In the above picture (on right), you will notice some of this summer's new shoots sticking up above the others.  Those are "babies" that haven't leafed out yet.  By the time they do leaf out, they will be full and fluffy just like the canes below.  And the above-ground growing season has just begun!  New shoots will continue to emerge from now until November.  Can you imagine how big and full his clump of bamboo will look by then?  I've asked Jason to send us follow up pictures at the end of the growing season and when he does I will add them to the blog.


Bamboo with natural handle makes perfect calligraphy brushes

An artist at the University of Wisconsin needed some small diameter bamboo to use for calligraphy brushes.  

She wrote to say:  I teach art classes at UWLa Crosse in Wisconsin. Next semester I would like to demonstrate the use of handmade brushes and have the graphic design classes make their own brushes to explore calligraphy and hand designed lettering. It might be a good experience for the students to get away from the computer for a while.   

We suggested using the bottom portion of our homegrown Phyllostachy aurea bamboo (Chunky Monkey aka Golden Bamboo or Fishpole Bamboo) because that variety has a natural "handle" created by close, irregularly shaped culm sections.

Chunky Monkey bamboo grows much larger in cold climates than it does in Central Florida's semi-tropical temperatures.  The bamboo pictured here is domestically grown but not homegrown.  The diameter of our homegrown Phyllostachy aurea about half the diameter - the perfect size for a calligraphy brush project.
We shipped a box filled with the uniquely shaped poles and received an email back from our customer once the project was completed.

Notice the same uniquely shaped nodes as in the larger, domestically grown bamboo of the same species.
Hi Sherry,
I purchased some of your bamboo a while back to make calligraphy brushes. The bamboo is great and I made some wonderful brushes. Here are a few pictures when the bamboo was still green. I wish it would stay that way but it's changing into a beautiful golden color - which I like as well. Thank you for picking out some narly pieces for me. I'll be ready to order more soon.  -Stella

Bamboo is an amazing plant.  It is so versatile, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

A table full of calligraphy brushes

The finished product...so pretty!  Just looking at them makes me wish I could pick one up to just hold in my hand!


Greening up the outside dining area at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville

Black Running Bamboo in a planter at Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville, FL

Yesterday when Tim was delivering bamboo to customers in northeast Florida, he stopped for dinner at Mellow Mushroom along Rt. A1A.  Last year, the Jacksonville location of Mellow Mushroom purchased two kinds of running bamboos from Beautiful Bamboo.  Mellow Mushroom is one of our favorite restaurants and ever since the Jacksonville location purchased plants from us, we've been curious about how they looked.  Yesterday Tim had an opportunity to find out.

The object was to break up the starkness of the tall wall with some greenery.  In just one growing season, Semiarundinaria fastuosa viridis (Green Hedge Running Bamboo) and Phyllostachys nigra (Black Running Bamboo) did the trick!

Running bamboos are not right for everyone because they are invasive.  They must be controlled so they don't spread into places where they are not supposed to be.  However, when used as a container plant, running bamboos have many advantages.  The container prevents them from being invasive and the plants' upright growth pattern works perfectly for narrow spaces.  Since running bamboos are also very cold hardy, they are an excellent choice as container plants throughout the United States.  They actually grow taller and have larger diameter canes in colder parts of the country than they do in warmer climates.
Another photo of the wooden planters used to contain the running bamboo


Bamboo rainsticks

Rainsticks made out of our homegrown bamboo poles

Bamboo poles have so many uses but one frequently requested project involves the use of bamboo poles to make rainsticks.  A few months ago, Kari, a customer in Kentucky, had that project in mind when she wrote to say: 

"Hi!  I just found your site on Google.  I am looking for bamboo poles for a homeschool group project.  We are making rainsticks.  Everything I've read says I need at least a 3" diameter by about 2' long.  (We can cut them here, but if you all can do that, that would save me work!!)  I'm planning on about 25 kids.  There are less, but I'd like some practice and some extras!!  We live in KY, so there would be shipping.  Could you please give me a quote and your best advice?  If you have an idea how to cap them off or what to use on the ends, I would appreciate that, too!!  Thanks!"

Our son Tim was also homeschooled and has made bamboo rainsticks himself.  Tim responded to Kari's letter:

"Bamboo does make a great rainstick.  When I've made them, I used a wooden dowel, or the end node of smaller bamboo, to close the ends.  3'' would work well, and we have three different kinds to choose from: our Homegrown poles, imported poles and polished poles.  The polished poles are going to look the most beautiful since the natural oils in the bamboo form a glossy look when cured.  We can cut the poles into 2' foot sections for a dollar a cut, which would yield you 4 pieces per 8' pole.  The shipping will be less with the cuts since the packages will be shorter- but for an exact quote I just need a zip code where they are going in KY."

Kari opted for 2" diameter homegrown poles (easier for little hands to hold) cut into smaller lengths. When the project was completed, she sent the following pictures:

My rainstick!

Enough bamboo poles to make rainsticks for everyone

Rainsticks are for more than making music...they're good to lean on too


New shoots aplenty in the Vivax grove

A restful spot in the Vivax grove

The Vivax Timber Running Bamboo (Phyllostachys vivax) began sending out new shoots toward the end of February.  In the picture above, a small shoot can be seen in front of the right chair.

Spring is an exciting time of year because it is the beginning of the above-ground growing season for bamboo.  Two new shoots are visible in this picture.    


Peak into the "office" at Beautiful Bamboo

The bamboo gazebo at Beautiful Bamboo

After greeting customers who come to Beautiful Bamboo nursery, the first thing we do is head to our outdoor office - a beautiful bamboo gazebo made out of the bamboo poles sold here at the nursery.  While sitting beneath the gazebo's thatched roof listening to the music of bamboo wind chimes, we take a few minutes to find out about each customer's individual landscape needs.  

Are the customers seeking privacy from obtrusive neighbors or trying to block unsightly objects or buildings?  Are they are in the market for ornamental plantings or looking to create a hedge?  If they are seeking a living fence, how long an area are they trying to cover and how wide a space can the bamboo fill?  Are there any overhead wires we need to know about?  Is irrigation in place?  The answers to these and other questions help us determine which of the many different varieties of bamboo will work best in their particular situation.  

In many ways my son, husband and I are not just bamboo growers but matchmakers trying to put together the perfect union of plant and people.  Marriage is for the long term and so are bamboos.  It is essential, right from the start, to select the correct bamboos.  That's why we start each visit with a free consultation in our lovely outdoor office. 


The excitement of seeing new shoots emerge

It is exciting to watch new shoots emerge and grow taller day by day

A customer who recently purchased some Vivax Running Bamboos and some Seabreeze Clumping Bamboo sent this email:

I was busy most of the weekend so I didn't get out Saturday to check on them. Sunday afternoon I saw these shoots. 2 out of 3 of the Vivax have shoots. 2 on this plant and 3 thinner ones on another. Nothing new on the seabreeze yet, just lots of leaf growth. I saw these exactly 4 weeks after planting. Can't wait to measure them every day. You can tell I'm new to bamboo.  Very excited,  Michael

Spring is the time of year when all the running bamboos start sending up new shoots while clumpers wait a few months longer until the weather is warmer.  It really is exciting to watch those new canes emerge.  Not only is it thrilling to see the shoots pop out of the ground but, like Michael is doing, their growth can actually be measured daily and seeing that - especially when you've never grown bamboo before - can be amazing to watch.

Ralph stands next to a young Vivax cane here at Beautiful Bamboo.  The new shoot that he's touching is less than a week old!



Graceful Bamboo - Bambusa textilis gracilis

Bamboo is an instant gratification plant and even 3- or 7-gallon size bamboos will form a solid wall of green in one growing season if planted in a rich soil that is fertilized and watered regularly. 

Our son, Toby, stands next to a young clump of Graceful that has had some of its lower leaves clipped off on order to better see the canes.  When using Graceful to block off unsightly objects, we often suggest clipping leaves off the front canes and not the back ones.  That way you can appreciate Graceful's attractive 1" to 1.25" diameter green canes while still having the blockage you desire.

But sometimes you don't want to wait even one season to block off an unsightly object or create that tropical paradise look.  In that case, starting off with a larger plant like those in 15- or 30-gallon containers is the way to go.  

In the photo below, Tim is standing next to some of our 15-gallon and 30-gallon Graceful plants.  Like all our bamboos, Graceful is also available in 3-gal and 7-gal containers.

Our son Timmy is almost 6' tall.  These 15- and 30-gal Graceful Bamboos are between 15' and 18' tall.  Graceful can grow 20-25 feet with 1¼" diameter canes.

Graceful is a very handsome plant with a soft, gentle look that is never overpowering. It is an excellent choice for narrow spaces or smaller yards because of its upright growth pattern. Proven to be one of our most popular bamboos, Graceful works well in city as well as country settings. 

Below are some of the attributes that make Graceful so popular: 
  • It isn't too tall or too short (grows 20-25 feet).  
  • It has the right amount of leaves - not too many or too few.  
  • It is very cold hardy (down to about 18 degrees).  
  • It is an upright grower with a small footprint, which makes it ideal for landscapes with limited planting beds.  
  • New shoots come up very close to the previous year's canes, which gives Graceful a tight, compact appearance.
Below are some posting about Graceful including those sent by customers like Ken (below) who planted Graceful in their yard to provide a quick-growing hedge:

Ken, a customer from Tampa, emailed to say how pleased he is with the screen provided by the 9 Graceful bamboos he installed in August 2009.  Eager to create a tall, dense screen to hide a noisy A/C unit and provide privacy from neighbors, Ken decided to purchase 7-gal size Gracefuls instead of 3-gal size plants.  Bamboos in larger containers have bigger root systems, which can support more culms as well as larger diameter and taller canes.

Sherry and Ralph,
It has been almost a year since we installed the Graceful bamboo I purchased from you. I have enclosed pictures showing the transformation in just 1 year! We are very pleased with the outcome.

August 2009

Three 7-gal Gracefuls were planted about 4' apart in front of a noisy A/C unit
The remaining six Gracefuls, also planted about 4' apart, bordered the fence.  Note the narrow planting bed in both pictures.
 One Year Later  
July 31, 2010

Where is that annoying A/C unit???
And the fence...What fence?  It must be behind there somewhere...
One more view of the entire fence line, including the now-hidden A/C unit

Another customer writes to ask which bamboo would be best to create a screen in a  6' wide space:
Hello Sherry, I am working on a project in which the homeowner found your website and loves bamboo. She wants to use it along a chain link fence to block the neighbors unsightly landscape, the width between the chain link fence and the house is only 6 ft wide, she would still like to use the area as a pathway from the front of the house to the back yard. Which variety do you recommend to use? The length of the fence to cover is 40 ft. How much would you recommend to use for this length as well?

My response:
I would suggest Graceful, a very upright growing clumping bamboo. In a 40' length she would need anywhere from 4 to 10 plants depending on how quickly she wants to form a solid hedge. If she went with 3-gal size plants planted 4' apart in enriched, irrigated soil the fenceline will be completely blocked by the end of the summer. If she went 8' to 10' apart, it would take two to three years worth of growth before a solid hedge formed. Graceful is a delicate looking bamboo with canes a bit over 1" in diameter that will grow about 25' tall at maturity. By the end of summer expect the 3-gal plants, which are now about 6' to 8' tall, to just about double in height.

After only one growing season, these two Graceful bamboos planted 4' apart are now touching. When first planted, each bamboo only had one cane and were half as tall as they are now.

Transporting large containers of Graceful:
Customers often wonder how to get the bamboo they want to buy home.  Although they have the option of having us deliver their purchases to them, they can often save time and money by fitting the bamboo into their own cars, vans, station wagons, trucks or trailers.

(Remember to bring along some old sheets, blankets and tie-downs when you schedule your visit to Beautiful Bamboo)

Repeat customers Matt and Kelly really wanted an instant look in their landscape and when Kelly saw our selection of 15-gallon Graceful clumping bamboos she knew that was just the plant she was looking for.  

Ralph and our grandson Atom pose in front of some 15- and 30-gallon Graceful bamboos
But would a 20+ foot tall, multi-caned plant fit into their station wagon?  Not a problem!  After a few of the taller shoots were snipped off to a 14' height and all the canes were tied together, the plant was ready to be gently slipped into the back of the wagon.  

But at 14', the canes were still too long to fit completely inside the car. 

Solution:  Open the passenger side window and let the canes stick out.  

With leaves secured by blankets and straps and anchored to the front grill work, the bamboo was ready for the 45-minute drive home. 

Instant privacy and beauty ready to go!

Amazing 'Before and After' pictures
I received this email from customers in the Orlando area who bought Seabreeze and Graceful clumping bamboos from us in 2008 to shield their backyard from a neighbor's home that was being built right along their fence line.

We are happy with how much our bamboo has grown these past 2 years.  It gives us the privacy, beauty and serenity we were looking for.

Attached is a recent photo and another photo from planting 2 years ago along with a photo prior to planting.  Such an improvement!  Sorry it took so long to send - 3 kids will keep you busy.

We are really enjoying the pool and our view. It is really relaxing and we now spend lots of time outside.  

Hope all is well.  Happy Mother's Day! 
Lisa and Wes

Above:  Before planting - a new house is being built next door
Below:  Right after planting - the new house is looming larger but the bamboo is in the ground right along the fence line.

Below:  Two Years Later - you can't even tell that the neighbor's house is there.  The bamboo hedge completely hides the neighboring building while adding beauty and a tropical feel to the backyard.

Another 'Before and After' view of Graceful Bamboo
A customer who bought two different types of clumping bamboo in May wrote to say how well their bamboo is growing:

Aloha Sherry and Ralph - Six months ago I bought a 30 gallon Textilis Mutabilis from your amazing collection. This Emerald has generated 26 new canes already. I enriched the planting bed with 30 bags of Black Kow, peat and organic soils mixed together,fertilized, plus watered faithfully every morning before work.

The two little sisters are Textilis Gracilis (Graceful); these two were only 3 gallon specimens and have produced 17 new canes each in the five month interval since they were planted!

My neighbors are thrilled with the unique tropical beauty of these upright, tight clumpers in our typically small suburban lawns. I'm looking forward to the privacy screen, shade and windblock/ noise barrier this living fence will create.

Thanks for your informative web site and blog. Kind regards, Freddy

After planting in May - One Emerald on the left with two Gracefuls to the right

6 Months Later - the same Emerald with the 2 Gracefuls to the right
The same 6-month-old plants as seen from the opposite side



What kind of running bamboo will grow in NY?

Running bamboos like cold climates.  They will grow taller and have larger diameter canes if grown in cold climates instead of warm ones.  Although this stand of Vivax running bamboo is covered in icicles during the winter of 2009, it wasn't damaged at all. 
A visitor to our website from NY wrote to ask:
Hi. Do you have bamboos that will withstand NY winters? How many plants do you recommend to start? Thank you.

My response:
All of our running bamboos will grow in your area.  Look at the pictures and descriptions on our running bamboo page to find the ones you like best.  It is not a problem to plant several types together and let them run into each other.

How many you begin with depends on how quickly you want to form a hedge. We began most of our long hedgerows of running bamboo with one plant but we were willing to wait several years for them to expand sufficiently to form a hedge.  

This double hedge of our Green Hedge Running bamboo (Semiarundinaria fastuosa viridis) was initially established on only one side of the path.  We started with 3-gal size plants spaced 10 feet apart.  It took several years, but eventually the space between the plants filled in and not too long after, shoots began traveling across the path.  Today we have a lovely hedge on both sides of a path that we keep clear by mowing.

Running bamboos are easy to divide once the initial plant starts sending out shoots.  Once the shoots have grown up and leafed out they can be dug up and relocated into the hedge line.  I'd suggest starting with 4-6 plants spaced 5' apart to form a hedge a bit quicker. 

These connected young shoots of Red Running Bamboo (Semiarudinaria fastuosa) are ready to be divided and transplanted.

We ship 3-gal plants, 2 plants per 48" x 12" x 12" box.  In order to provide you with an accurate quote, we need to how many plants and which varieties you wish to order, your address w/zip code, phone # and whether the parcel will be delivered to a home or business location (it is slightly less expensive to ship to commercial locations).  Once we have that information we can send you a quote including shipping.  If you decide to go ahead with the order we accept payment by credit card. When the bamboo is shipped we email you a tracking number. 


How do I know if I'm watering too much?

Bamboo leaves that are receiving adequate water are flat and open
While the leaves of the same type of bamboo (in this case, yellow groove running bamboo) getting insufficient water curl inward

I received this email today:
We have had our bamboo in the ground for about 3 weeks now, Seabreeze and Vivax.  I have the spray emitters I purchased from you on the 12 Seabreeze and have been watering the Vivax by hand.  After reading the internet and your blog I am finding conflicting information on watering.  In one of your recent posts it said water as much as possible during daylight hours.  Another spot on your site I read 30 min twice daily when new.  

Other places on the net vary from every other day to once a week after established. Due to our current schedule, I have been watering with the spray emitters for about an hour a day, sometimes longer in the afternoon and then a good soaking with the hose on the Vivax.  I have mulched the plants with leaves and the soil remains damp until the next watering.  I am seeing a lot of new growth on the current canes so I assume I am giving enough water. 

I think my main concern is over watering since I know they are not getting dried out between waterings.  I planted with your bamboo booster as directed and have typical very sandy soil outside of where we replaced with the bamboo booster.  Is there much risk of over watering?  Is there any harm in watering in the evening or possibly after dark?  I know I need to buy a timer, but I am in manual mode for now.  Any tips are appreciated.

My response:
Sorry for the confusing information.  The bottom line with bamboo in FL is that it is almost impossible to give them too much water.  If the bamboo are standing in water that doesn't drain away for more than two weeks, that would be a problem, but that isn't likely to happen in FL.  It might happen if you lived in an area where soil drainage is poor with, for instance, pockets of heavy clay.  In that case, over-watering would be a concern.

The post where I mentioned watering the bamboo as much as possible refers to recently transplanted large clumps of bamboo like the one pictured in that post.  The watering you are doing to your smaller plants is perfectly adequate.  The thing to understand with bamboo is that it likes water and sends out more shoots when grown in moist conditions. 

That's not to say bamboo won't grow well with less water.  It will, just not as vigorously.  We tell people to water frequently in the beginning to both help the plants adjust to transplanting and also to encourage growth.  After two or three years, your bamboos will have met or exceeded your initial size/height/width expectations.  (For examples of bamboo growth, see the
'Before and After' pictures sent by our customers.)  At that point you might want to back off watering.  You can even stop irrigating completely after a couple years and the bamboo will still do just fine. 

The thing to remember is you can slow down or increase the size of your clump by adjusting TWO THINGS:  The amount of water the bamboo receives and the frequency of soil amendments in the form of fertilizer and/or top dressings of organic matter like leaves, grass clippings, compost, manure, etc.  

More of both = More prolific growth.

Regarding the time of day to water, it is not important when you water.  Do it whenever it is convenient for you.  The main thing, when your plants are young, is to water them regularly.  We recommend using a programmable timer but even if you rely on hand-watering, use the bamboo leaves as indicators of your watering needs.  If you see leaves beginning to curl, then you know they need more water.  Turn on the sprinklers, the leaves will uncurl and the bamboos will be happy.

It doesn't matter if you use overhead sprinkers, spot spitters or hand-water, the important thing is to water your newly transplanted and young plants regularly


Bamboo flutes

People have been making musical instruments out of bamboo for thousands of years.  The oldest bamboo flute dates back to 433 BC and was discovered in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng at the Suizhou site, Hubei province, China. 

Over the ages, people around the world have transformed hollow bamboo tubes into sweet sounding musical instruments.  Instrument makers from China, India, Korea, Japan, Polynesia, Cambodian and many other countries have their own unique take on the construction of bamboo flutes.  

At Beautiful Bamboo, we receive many inquiries from bamboo flute makers.  Recently, Erik the Flutemaker, from Davie, FL stopped by with his associate, Leo.  

Erik the Flutemaker plays one of his 'Starry Night' flutes at Beautiful Bamboo

After having read about the different varieties on our website, Erik and Leo came to take a tour of the demonstration gardens and see in person the different clumping bamboos pictured on our website. 

Leo serenades us with melodic sounds

When it comes to making flutes, clumping bamboos are better than running varieties because the distance between the culm sections in clumping bamboo is considerably longer than it is in runners.  Other consideration include the diameter of the canes, the wall thickness and the coloring of the bamboo exterior. 

While Leo watches, Erik (on right) shows Ralph where to drill holes on a Bambusa multiplex 'Silverstripe' cane.  In the background stands a large clump of bamboo of the same type of bamboo.

As we toured the property with Erik and Leo, we looked for bamboos with the specific qualities needed to build the type of flutes Erik and Leo construct.

After choosing an appropriate pole, Erik give it an initial cleaning with a handful of pine needles and bamboo leaves picked up off the ground