Clumpers or Runners? Which bamboo is best for you

One of the first things to decide when you are thinking about planting bamboo is whether to get Clumping Bamboo or Running Bamboo.
Clumping Bamboos are similar in growth habit to any shrub. They grow gradually outward from the center with new canes growing taller and getting larger in diameter every year. The most important characteristic of clump bamboos is that, unlike Running Bamboos, they do not spread by sending underground shoots far away from the main plant. They are NOT invasive.

Clumping Bamboos are well-behaved, attractive and non-invasive

For a privacy hedge, plant clumping bamboos anywhere from 4- to 10-feet apart. When planted 4- to 6-feet apart in enriched, irrigated soil, clumping varieties will form a solid hedge in just one growing season. If planted further apart, it will take a couple years longer. Either way, in a short time clumping bamboos form a tall, thick green border with towering canes that bend in the breeze.

A 3-year-old hedge of Bambusa multiplex alphonse karr clumping bamboo

Unlike Clumping Bamboos, Running Bamboos do send shoots away from the mother plant and have the potential to be invasive. In some varieties the new shoots will travel only a few inches but in other runners the shoots might travel 10-feet or more away from the mother plant.

Running Bamboos spread by underground rhizomes

While this may present a problem in certain landscapes, in other situations it is a positive characteristic.  When planted 3- to 10-feet apart, the growth pattern of running bamboos enables them to quickly turn into dense and beautiful hedges.

This hedge of Arrow Running Bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica) forms a dense green barrier

Running Bamboos can be controlled by mowing a wide (10' to 25') area around the planting bed, with a bamboo barrier, or by a natural barrier such as a body of water, a road, or a pasture which is grazed or mowed regularly.

Green Hedge Running Bamboo (S. fastuosa viridis) is kept under control by mowing a wide swath

Running Bamboos grow taller and thicker in cooler climates than they do in more tropical settings. While we can grow many varieties of running bamboo in Florida, the plants don't develop as impressively in our climate as they do in more temperate parts of the country.

This large-diameter canes come from Running Bamboos grown in cold-climate parts of the world
On the other hand, Clumping Bamboos prefer a tropical climate where temperatures rarely go below 15 to 28 degrees. Both Clumping and Running Bamboos will provide a quick impenetrable hedges, graceful groves, or attractive spot plantings.

A serene sitting area nestled within a grove of Vivax Running Bamboo


  1. I want to visit your business ... SOON ... !!
    I am a lifelong agronomist / soil-use specialist ... now located near Winter Haven ... AND desire to know more !!!
    Luke Pritchett

    1. Luke,
      Come on by. We are open Monday-Saturday from 8-4. Other hours may be available by appointment. Give us a call at 352-429-2425.