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Growing bamboo in northern climes

I live in the Panhandle area of Idaho. I'm very interested in growing bamboo for various projects. Has anyone had any luck with this plant in a northern climate? I have seen it grown in Portland, Ore., but its weather is milder than here. This area gets quite a bit of moisture and winters are not normally extremely cold -- compared to areas further east. Can anyone suggest a good book or website for getting started with bamboo?

hollenback5 years ago
I am in Cheney, WA (About 55 miles west of Coeur d'Alene) and I am growing about 70 species of bamboo. The runners are easy to control in this climate by rhizome pruning and there are a number of clumping varieties that do well here. With the searchable ABS Source list at http://www.bambooweb.info/SSL.php you can find bamboos that will work for you.

You might be warmer that where I am. Last winter my recorded low was -6*F but in 2004 it did get down to -24*F and 19 of the 20 species that I had at that time survived.
IdahoDavid (author)  hollenback5 years ago
Do you get what I would term a construction grade bamboo? I'm think of something with a dried wall thickness similar to a Schedule 40 PVC. I think with the lake factor here at Coeur d'Alene we probably are a little warmer and damper in the winter than Cheney.
It depends on what you are building out of it. As a bamboo culm gets older it also gets harder and reaches its maximum hardness in about 5 years and because of the climate I have not been able to get any that old so far but my P. aureosulcata P. rubromarginata and P. bissetii are doing well and should be producing construction grade bamboo soon. Next year I should have enough canes to start working on a fence but I need to find some borosol as a preservative first. If you stay above 0 deg I would recommend P.
angusta (Stone Bamboo) to grow and build with. There is a list of bamboos that will grow in your area at: Phyllostachys hardy to 0*F. If you would like to see my bamboos PM me and we can arrange a time. There is also two or three bamboo cleanup days at the bamboo groves in Puyallup, WA and if you help clean up the groves you can bring back as many canes as you can carry. The dates will be posted on www.pnwbamboo.org as soon as they are set.
You can also check out the forums at www.bamboocraft.net and www.bambooweb.info for more ideas.
Note that a most of what people call bamboo around here is actually Japanese Knotweed and will decay in about a year.
skunkbait5 years ago
Hey, let me know if you need some cuttings. One of my properties has a bamboo infestation!
IdahoDavid (author)  skunkbait5 years ago
I will let you know. Thanks
Goodhart5 years ago
Here is one PDF reference to how many types are grown in a botanical garden....
Kiteman5 years ago
I live in the UK, and the main problem we have with bamboo here is stopping it growing.

It turns into a spreading weed very easily.
IdahoDavid (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Yeah, I'm getting a lot of that. I'm curious. Are the varieties you are familiar with something that would be structurally sound or are the stem wals thin? I have seen a variety growing around here (Idaho) but not a kind I would use for building anything.
One the whole, it's thin stuff (imported as a decorative plant). I have seen broader stems (inches across) growing in botanical gardens, stately homes etc, sometimes in greenhouses, sometimes not.

That wasn't much help, was it?
kenn1235 years ago
Different cultivars will grow up north.
Problems with growing bamboo are varying.
Biggest killer would either be
1. the cold ( in montana this is the biggest problem) The plant holds in moisture, and bamboo will split and likely die come spring
or
2. lack of moisture. Not sure about the panhandle, as you get more moisture than we do over the divide, but while bamboo doesn't like to be drowned, it does like humid environment.

Once its planted and sustained growth appears, you have to watch it like a hawk, or it will take over, as stated above. It is essentially a grass.

try this site for more info:
http://www.americanbamboo.org/GeneralInfo.html

then go talk with a gardening center in your area.

IdahoDavid (author)  kenn1235 years ago
Thanks. Good food for thought. The Panhandle -- I'm at Coeur d'Alene -- is damper and warmer than most of western Montana. What town area you in?
Giant Timber Bamboo will take temps down to 20 degrees F. It has the advantage of being a clumper. Here's a link to a company noted for it's selection of bamboo

bamboo sorcery
CameronSS5 years ago
I live in Topeka, Kansas, and there's a nice clump of bamboo growing in the corner of the yard. Winter doesn't bother it; we cut it down every year, and it grows back up.
Doctor What5 years ago
My neighbors had bamboo growing in their yard, and once they had it, they couldn't seem to get rid of it. Then they moved suddenly, fleeing the police.
(BTW, I live in Washington, so the climate is kind of the same. Good ol Pacific Northwest.)
IdahoDavid (author)  Doctor What5 years ago
Ditto that. I came here from South Dakota where the the seasons were: Mud. Dust. Brief fall. Wind and death chilled cold.
Yeah, but here it's: Extreme hot. Extreme cold. Repeat.
IdahoDavid (author)  Doctor What5 years ago
Perhaps they had more growing than just bamboo.
Flumpkins5 years ago
Idaho? I'm prob at the same northern point, but on the east side. And brennn10 in Pennsylvania? and bamboo? I might consider trying this out
caitlinsdad5 years ago
Lots of bamboo in the back yard in New York City. It does grow like weeds and poison ivy if you don't maintain it. I don't know about getting seeds but they propogate by sending out deep runner roots. I think if you get a chunk of the roots it may be easier than trying to grow shoots or saplings. There are probably different kinds of bamboo because the wall thickness varies to the stuff I've seen funiture made of and I guess you have to figure out how to grow it straight. They somehow manage to find their way under a cement patio and re-emerge out through the neighbor's porch steps. I think it would mangle up your mantis tiller if you use one to clean up the garden.
IdahoDavid (author)  caitlinsdad5 years ago
Thanks. It sounds like a plant I would want to proceed with with caution. I would like to raise a variety that comes up straight and with wall thickness similar to that of Schedule 40 PVC. I'm wondering if it would be easier to control in a raised bed. I've seen it in containers, but not of a size that would be worth working with.
NachoMahma5 years ago
. Try Googling cultivating+bamboo
Brennn105 years ago
I live in Pennsylvania (could be considered the north) and bamboo grows like poison ivy here.
bumpus Brennn105 years ago
Really? Man I need me some bamboo seeds... I have some pyrotechnic needs for bamboo....
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