Sunday, July 31, 2011

Buddha's Belly Bamboo

Many times people will ask whether or not you can grow bamboo in our desert gardens.  The answer is a hearty yes.  I know it's shocking to believe for some people, but it can grow here and loves intense sun.  These giants can get quite large so make sure you give them the sun, room, fertilizer, and water that they need.  About every season, I throw a little fertilizer around the base to get this plant a jump start for the summer. Bamboo is considered a grass and makes an excellent screen from neighbors and/or natural fence area.  What people don't tell you on the internet is how they will grow in's some useful info.

Buddha's Belly is the bamboo that I have on the property, BUT there are also many many other varieties that do well here.  Make sure you check the height and habits of these bamboo before you put them into the ground.  Is bamboo fun to grow?  Yes.  I love everything about it, but when I put it into the ground around different areas of the property, this is what I discovered.  Total shade will stunt the fast growth rate of bamboo.  Regular watering, once established, is important for the success of your bamboo.  Put this plant in full sunlight, but make sure it gets that weekly water during the summer.  I have mine on a drip system. The first year, you'll need to water often until it gets established.  During the first years in the ground, your bamboo won't grow as quickly as it does starting year 3 on your property.  I doubted that the bamboo would actually put any height on as it didn't do much 2 years ago.  Today it has tripled in height and looks amazing.  While it wasn't hurt during our severe freeze, several stalks bit the dust by doubling over.  Remember, with bamboo, if you trim the bamboo stalk or it dies at the tip(which is unusual except during a freeze), the bamboo on that particular stalk will stop putting on anymore height.  Bamboo in early spring goes through a "shedding period", but don't worry, new growth will appear and by May, the plant will be a robust emerald green. Shoots from the plant will come up anytime during the year to replace dead ones or just expand its territory.
You can see examples of bamboo all over Tucson, but you will have to look for them.  Most people use this plant in their backyard near a waterline.  Several hotels, one I'll be featuring in a week or so, uses bamboo all over the courtyard area. The Tucson Botanical Gardens also have several clumps growing with one large specimen in the Children's garden.  Tucson even has its own bamboo shop....titled the Bamboo Ranch.  I have a post on this place from last on the link below for phone number and info.
Taken last year at a local hotel in Tucson.  These clumps have been here for at 13 years.

Caring for bamboo is simple and makes a great addition to your landscape. Remember that there are two varieties of bamboo....clumping and running.  If you are lucky enough to have softer soil, do not plant the running variety or it will spread like wildfire!  Most of us have hard clay soil, but I still rather use the clumping variety to be on the safe side.   Buddha's Belly is a clumping variety.  Bamboo isn't for everyone and it will grow to great heights, but there is nothing like the sound of wind blowing through the culms during a monsoon storm.
My Buddha's Belly aren't this mature yet, but they are getting there.  This pic taken from Biomass Bamboo.  The bulging culm of this bamboo gives it the name.


  1. Nice when you don't have them hanging over the wall from your neighbor's yard! They need a good trimming now and then otherwise their leaves fly all over the place especially during the monsoon season...a pain in the neck to pick them up all year round :-))

  2. I love the look of bamboo...and if I ever get any it will definately be the clumping type!!!

  3. I love those bamboos too, we have it in the country growing well, however it might grow like a forest so i dont plant it in the property even if i really love to look at them.


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