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Bamboo in the UK Answered

Does anyone know where I can buy bamboo in the UK (to use in projects)? Does anyone know where I can get some seedlings or something like that so that I can grow it? Also, I've heard it spreads a lot and I don't particularly want it all over the garden, so does anyone know an effective way of keeping it under control (and can it be grown in pots to a sufficient thickness to make stuff out of)?

Much appreciated,



Wow! You guys are all so informative!

How am I going to pick the best answer? :O

Thanks everyone for answering my question brilliantly!

I needed bamboo as garden canes a few years ago. A post on freecycle netted me 5 or 6 replies saying I was welcome to come cut some down. A lot of people have a patch of it, and it often needs taming, Armed with some cutters (not a saw), you're likely to be able to harvest a lot of it for free if you ask around.

Be careful what you ask for.

Japanese Knotweed, which looks somewhat bamboo-like, was introduced to the US as an ornamental plant and has become a severe invasive problem, even driving out the previous invasive grasses (from the UK, I believe) which have been driving out the native cattails. It's REALLY hard to kill off -- websearch will find many sites complaining about this. I suspect that bamboo, being a member of the grass family, would be equally hard to control.

Similarly, garlic mustard is also an annoying invasive in New England -- and that one was imported by early settlers as a pot herb. Not hard to kill an individual plant, but it seeds and spreads enthusiastically so unless you get them all it bounces right back.

Never plant anything outdoors that isn't native unless you know that the existing herbivores and competition and weather will keep it in check.

Bamboo's pretty cheap to purchase, since it does grow so enthusiastically. Unless you're really interested in growing your own for the sake of being able to say you've done so, it might be safer to buy.

Bit slow tonight, me.
The significance of the 'big coat' just hit me #;¬)

Bamboos come in all sizes and with different habits.
Some grow now larger than grasses (they are actually a type of grass) while others can get up to 75 foot or so (but probably not in the UK).
Some are incredible thugs which will spread via underground rhizomes and take over as much territory as they can whereas others will stay where they're put, just forming a very slowly growing clump. 
It sounds like the ideal one for you would be a slowly spreading one which grows to10 to 12 feet.  This will give you decently thick garden cane type canes which you can construct with.
THIS appears to be a good site for selecting one, then see if you can source it locally (possibly Durham, as Lemonie suggests).

You can buy bamboo in any garden centre - or are you looking for something special? you can grow bamboo very successfully up to 20 feet high if you chooses the right type. yes it has a reputation for spreading and you need to take some care to confine the roots or your neighbours may not like you too much.