Bamboo sticks

Bamboo sticks

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Bamboo canes

Bamboo or bamboo canes mean all those evergreen and perennial plants, practically spread all over the world. They are made up of fleshy rhizomes with a head-like or creeping development, from which stems called canes develop. They have leaves that in spring or early summer fall to be replaced with new foliage. It is possible to observe different species of reeds, including: sasa, bambusa, shibatea etc. In the past, all these species have been called invasive and invasive plants, difficult to grow or useless for decorating the garden or the interior of the house. While today, they are planted both in the garden and invaded inside the house because, thanks to the colors, they are excellent decorative elements. Inserting bamboo canes in our garden or on our terrace is certainly, with some small changes to limit its expansion, a good choice. In fact, they are available in many varieties with different colored leaves and different sizes. They also adapt to different climates and are very easy to maintain.


Due to the fact that these plants are widespread almost all over the world, it is possible to cultivate a tropical species in a garden with a Mediterranean climate and to plant a Himalayan species in an environment subject to frost and intense cold. Those that are cultivated by far in Italy are plants belonging to the rustic species. They bear both the heat of the summer season and the frost and the intense colds of the winter season. If you decide to plant a delicate species, it can happen that in winter the stems dry up. However it is good to remember that they are not the main element of this plant, in fact, if the rhizomes will not suffer any damage, it will be enough to wait for the end of winter to develop new shoots. The preferred position is full sun or semi-shady; if possible use an acid soil otherwise, it does not disdain the alkaline one. What should not be missing is good drainage, because the rhizomes are easily attacked by molds and fungi, if the soil is muddy or moist.

Description and origins

The bamboo belongs to the family of the Poaceae (it is therefore a grass) and is mostly native to South-East Asia (in particular from China, Korea and Japan). However, few know that some species are endemic to Africa, Latin America and even Oceania. Up to 80 genera and 1500 different species have been classified. Their air is very wide: they grow from sea level up to 3000 m of altitude.
Given this great variety, they are generally subdivided according to their size and the woodiness of the stem (cane).
They are usually characterized by rhizomatous roots that stretch with extreme ease, covering extremely large areas. However, there are also lumbering bamboos, much smaller and with a slow spread. Their canes have a diameter of at most 2 cm and tend to be less rustic.


Pruning is essential to allow the development of the leaves and the respiration of the plant. The type of pruning to be performed depends on the species to which the plant belongs. Those dwarfs must be pruned, approximately every 2 or 3 years, at ground level, in such a way as to keep the head dense and compact over the years. While, the other species may also not be pruned but, this practice takes place (cutting the largest and most resistant canes) to use the cut canes to contain the vegetation, to maintain the hedge or for agricultural uses. Even watering should not occur frequently, on the contrary, it is good to water rustic plants just planted or if the soil is excessively dry.

Bamboo characteristics

The aerial part includes the stem (cane) and the leaves, whose height can go from a few cm (for dwarf varieties) to more than 30 meters for the giant ones. The consistency is at the same time hard (like wood), but flexible (to bend in the wind, thus avoiding breaking). Appearance and color are very varied, but they are united by knots, from which branches branch out, further subdivided into twigs bearing then very decorative leaves. In our continent they dry and fall in the summer, but they are quickly replaced.
The stems come out directly from the ground and within a few weeks they reach their final diameter. In some giant varieties the growth is truly amazing: in optimal conditions it can exceed 1 meter a day! Flowering occurs only on very mature plants and often leads to the death of the specimen. However, it is necessary to dispel the myth of the contemporary flowering of all the bamboos in the world: it is an event that can occur, but in reality it is quite rare.
The rhizome, underground, grows almost always in a straight line and, at a regular distance, lets out a new jet. On the other hand, the rarer thing known as cespitose bamboos create clumps that are slightly apart from each other.

Exposure and terrain

The ideal soil for bamboo must be rich and able to remain moist, but not wet, for long. The loamy or slightly clayey soils with subacid or sub-alkaline reaction are therefore suitable.
Because the plant grows vigorously it is necessary that it is well exposed, therefore in a well bright and warm area. It is extremely important that it is also sheltered from the winds, especially during the winter period.
The varieties of limited size are also suitable for cultivation in larger or smaller pots.

The flowers

Although not everyone knows, bamboo canes create inflorescences with remarkable beauty. They are similar to the flowers of the other poacee and are yellow or green. Even the majority of enthusiasts may have never seen his bamboo flourish; this is due to the simple fact that, most species rarely and even after every ten years. The inflorescences are truly random, they do not have precise seasons, nor even specific time intervals. What remains certain is the period of maximum flowering, equal for each species: maximum every 120 years or so. For example, if a species blooms in winter, in the summer of the same year, another species will create its flowers. However, after this massive flowering, the plant undergoes heavy decay and sometimes causes its death.


Bamboo canes can be used in the garden, in full earth or in pots, to create highly ornamental barriers. Very interesting is also their use for the creation of woods with an oriental appearance or groups (in combination with other essences coming from Asia). They also have the added value of acting as a shelter for a large number of birds and insects, making our space more lively and colorful, not to mention that the decomposition of the leaves helps make our soil more and more fertile and vital.
The canes can also be used for many different purposes: as guardians, for the construction of structures or for the creation of shading barriers. They are a very durable and decorative material.


The first description of bamboo came to Europe in the time of Alexander the Great. However, the first specimens only arrived at the end of the 19th century, particularly in France, thanks to a cloth merchant. The canes, in fact, were used to transport silkworms illegally to the West. He liked the plant a lot, he had several specimens brought and put in place the first bamboo from our continent.

Type of foliage Persistent or semi-persistent
Form columnar
Height at maturity From 15 cm to more than 30 m
Cultivation simple
Water needs high
Growth rapid
Propagation division
Exposure Sun-shade
Ground Rich and slightly moist
pH From subacid to subalcaline


You can proceed at any time of the year, even if the ideal is the end of summer or the beginning of autumn. In this period, in fact, the bamboo rhizomes develop very quickly and the specimen will fasten very quickly.
In spring, however, manipulation is much more difficult due to the presence of new and fragile jets.
First of all you will have to dig a hole a little bigger than the earth bread. On the bottom we will put a good quantity of well seasoned organic soil conditioner. After extracting the specimen from the pot (having previously watered it to make the operation easier), we insert it into the hole and cover it with the remaining soil, compacting well and creating a small depression around the collar, where we will pour a lot of water.
If our bamboo is rhizomatous it is extremely important to insert at least 30 cm deep barriers in the ground to delimit the area within which it will have to expand. If we do not insert them, the plant will soon become extremely invasive and almost impossible to contain.

In pot

We choose a non-rhizomatous or otherwise small variety. The vase must be of very resistant material and of a volume equal to or greater than 35 liters.
Choose a rich soil and mix it with a little garden soil and seasoned manure.
It is also extremely important to create a thick drainage layer based on expanded clay or gravel on the bottom.

Crop care

To grow well most species need a lot of water and heat. However, there are also varieties that adapt well to areas with cold winters and low rainfall.
However it is recommended:
• Water abundantly during the summer or in the absence of rain.
• In winter it is good to remove the oldest stems, extract and divide the rhizomes avoiding that they become too dense.
• We use its own leaves and other mulching material to protect the roots during the cold season. Mulching is also useful to avoid excessive evaporation of water during the summer.
dimensions first nameHeight and foliageusagesfeatures

Up to 150 cm
Shibataea kumasaca From 50 to 100 cm
Persistent, short and broad leaves
For borders and siepine Not very invasive
Pleioblastus pumilus From 30 to 80 cm, persistent green foliage Ground Cover Excellent for landslides.
Endure the shadow and the cold

Medium bamboo (3 to 10 meters)
Sasa tessellata Up to 2 meters
Large elongated leaves, glossy green, tufted, semi-persistent
Ideal for isolated groups It tolerates different types of soil.
Rustic up to -18 ° C, sun or shade
Phyllostachys From 6 to 8 meters He wants a lot Vigorous and very rustic, fine
bissetii Persistent green foliage first olive and then dark, shiny, very dense. space at -25 ° C
Phyllostachys rubromarginata About 6 meters.
Persistent, abundant and decorative foliage.
Very hard rods
Excellent for windbreak hedges Undemanding and not very invasive.
Up to -20 ° C
Phyllostachys aurea From 6 to 9 meters.
Very dense, almost golden, and persistent foliage, light green
Adaptable, but fears the cold wind Not very invasive
Tolerates shade and water shortages.
Up to -20 ° C
Semiarundinaria fastuosa From 5 to 9 meters, columnar bearing.
Dark green canes that turn purple in autumn.
Persistent foliage, from the base to the top
Very adaptable It adapts to many different exposures.
Very invasive

Giant bamboos (more than 10 meters)
Phyllostachys vivax f. aureocaulis 10 to 15 meters.
Very straight, golden canes, persistent foliage
Ideal for hedges or for creating bamboo plants Sunny and warm exposure, sheltered from the wind.
Fears snow, but withstands up to -20 ° C.Summer growth
Phyllostachys sulfurea f. viridis From 15 to 18 meters
First green and then yellow green streaks. Persistent foliage.
Isolated groups, bambuseti Sun-half shade, up to -20 ° C

Bambitus trees (not very invasive)
Semiarundinaria makinoi Up to 5 meters
Fine, brown, bush-like canes. Persistent foliage
As a windbreak, a hedge or in a vase Very tolerant, up to -18 ° C
Jiuzhaigou Fargesia From 2 to 4 meters
Leaves small, first purple, then light green.
Persistent foliage
In pot or as a bush Sun or partial shade, very rustic
Fargesia rufa From 1.50 to 3 meters. Persistent, fine and clear foliage.
Yellowish reeds
Ideal for pot or bush Rusticissimo
Shaded and fresh exposure.

The bamboo calendar
Planting From August to November
Collection of reeds From December to February
Division Between March and April
Cleaning the area, removing old sections From December to February


This type of intervention is generally not necessary except for some dwarf species that must be cut down at the end of winter.


The bamboo multiplies itself by extending its rhizomes. To create a new bambuseto it is sufficient to take, between March and April, a section, helping in the extraction with a pitchfork.
The cespitose varieties are divided as would be done for a herbaceous plant, leaving a sufficient number of roots for each section.

Bamboo rods: Collection and use of canes

Bamboo canes have many uses: to make buildings, various objects or for decorative purposes. They are very well preserved once cut and dried: they are in fact extremely resistant to water. They can be taken at any time of the year, although it is preferable to proceed in winter, using a metal saw (especially for large varieties).
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