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.