Bamboo is a unique and fascinating plant that is known for its fast growth, hardiness, and versatility. However, one of the most interesting characteristics of bamboo is that it is a monocarpic plant. This means that bamboo will only flower once in its lifetime, after which it will die.
This article will explore the implications of bamboo being a monocarpic plant, and how it affects its growth and reproduction.
What are monocarpic plants?
First, it is important to understand what it means for a plant to be monocarpic. Monocarpic plants are those that only flower and produce seeds once in their lifetime.
After flowering, the plant will die, but not before producing offshoots or rhizomes that will continue to grow and eventually produce their own flowers.
Some examples of monocarpic plants are agave, cacti, and bamboo.
Bamboo reproduction cycle
In the case of bamboo, it can take anywhere from 5 to 120 years for a bamboo plant to flower, depending on the species. The common species that grow in the UK can take 40 to 60 years to flower. This is known as the bamboo's "flowering cycle."
When a bamboo plant reaches the end of its flowering cycle, it will produce flowers and seeds, and then die.
However, before the plant dies, it will produce new shoots and rhizomes that will continue to grow and eventually produce their own flowers.
This unique reproduction cycle can have a significant impact on its growth and use. For example, it can lead to a loss of a significant number of plants at once. This can be detrimental for growers who grow bamboo along the hedges, as screens or in the pot.
Here is a black bamboo cultivar flowering in September 2022. We took the pictures at Kew Gardens, London.
Benefits of bamboo as a monocarpic plant
The monocarpic nature of bamboo can also have benefits. For example, the fact that bamboo only flowers once in its lifetime means that it is less likely to become invasive.
In contrast, many invasive plants are able to reproduce quickly and easily, which allows them to spread rapidly.
Also, the fact that bamboo only flowers once in its lifetime can make it a more sustainable crop. Bamboo can be harvested for its stalks and leaves without harming the plant, and it can continue to grow and produce new shoots.
All in all, bamboo is a monocarpic plant. It will only flower once in its lifetime, after which it will die. This can have both positive and negative implications for its growth, reproduction, and uses.
The ‘Price range’ in the tables above takes the lower-end price from the major online markets like e-Bay and Amazon at the time of this article.
Costs of Bamboos ranges between £20 and £60 or can be even higher. When buying plants, always choose a reputable garden shop because they sell high-quality plants.
Always check the post and package cost as this may not be included in the final cost of the bamboo plant. This may be dumb, but it is the best way to avoid paying more than you should.
The upper price limits are from the leading Garden Centres in the UK. The upper price limits are indicative of the delivery prices. However, the prices do fluctuate, therefore check the actual door price before making a purchase.
Buy screening bamboo plants
Online bamboo P&P:
Getting bargain garden bamboo plants from online marketplaces like Amazon and e-Bay can be satisfying.
However, the price of Garden Bamboo Plants from online marketplaces does not include the postage and packing, P&P.
Therefore, it is perhaps important to check out the actual cost price of the plant on sale before buying it.
Fargesia Robusta Campbell is the fastest growing bamboo in the Fargesia murielae and Fargesia Nitida group, hence the name robust or robusta.
Its stem is strikingly slender and tall, new growths form tight clusters, ideal for tall hedges and natural privacy screens.
Fargesia Robusta ‘Campbell’ Bamboo
Umbrella Bamboo ‘Campbell’ is well known as the Fargesia murielae robusta ‘Campbell'. This clump-forming bamboo has evergreen dark green foliage. Its stems are light green, long and slender.
Robusta Campbell is a fast-growing Fargesia bamboo that can reach a full height of approximately 5m during a year’s growth and remain evergreen for more than 5 years.
Campbell Bamboo’s new shoots are dark red. As they grow, the striking colour contrast between the light brown sheath and the light green stem and dark green leaves is stunning, observable between Spring and early Summer.
The elegant Fargesia robusta 'Campbell' is ideal for tall hedges and privacy screens. It is containable in pots and containers. It prefers a nice sunny spot, with good soil and moisture to grow well.
Robusta ‘Campbell’ Bamboo Care
Though Fargesia 'Campbell' Bamboo is a low-maintenance plant, the new plant may require water and mulch to establish its roots and shoots.
It may need tidying up in Spring by cutting the old culms.
If you wish to re-grow the bamboo, separate the stems from the base culms or re-grow using the culm cuttings.
Some bamboos are better suited to pots and containers, whereas the others are best for outdoors.
10 facts about growing bamboo plants
1. Q. How fast does bamboo grow?
A. Clump-forming bamboos tend to grow 30-60 cm (1 – 2 feet) taller each year.
A. Running bamboos grow 90cm to 2m (3 – 6 feet) taller each year. They mature in height in just one growth year.
Do you know: A certain bamboo variety is known to be the fastest-growing plant, according to the Guinness World Records, growing at up to 91 centimetres (35 inches) per day.
2. Q. How tall does bamboo grow?
A. Clump-forming Bamboo culms (stems) usually grow to 5m (15 feet) tall. These bamboo will grow and spread about the same distance.
A. New shoots of Running Bamboo plants grow 90cm to2 m taller each year until it reaches the maximum height (~2m).
Do you know: A new bamboo shoot can reach its full height in less than 3 months and survive for 5 to 10 years?
3. Q. How far do bamboo roots (rhizomes) spread?
A. Clump-forming bamboos: The rhizomes of clumping bamboos establish in 1 – 2 years. The new shoots are an indication of a well-established clump root system. The rhizomes can spread to 5 m around the parent plant.
A. Running bamboos: This is an invasive variety. Its rhizomes spread pretty quickly, they can grow more than a metre in a year.
4. Q. Which bamboo is best for screening?
A. The best bamboo for screening must be tall, grows lots of secondary branches, has dense evergreen foliage. It should, or at least, grow in both sun, part-shade and shade. Some varieties of Fargesia Murielae, also called the Umbrella Bamboos, are perfect for screening or for hedging.
5. Q. What kind of bamboo is best for the garden?
A. Clumping bamboo varieties are great garden plants, they spread more slowly and gradually. In the garden, they can be used as ornamental or patio pot plants. Fargesia Simba and Pleioblastus Distichus are the best for garden centrepieces.
6. Q. Is bamboo legal in the UK?
A. There are currently no restrictions on planting bamboo in the UK. The UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Updates 11 December 2014, now the Guidance to Invasive Non-native Plants) does not classify bamboo as an invasive species.
7. Q. Can bamboo grow in pots and containers?
A. You can grow both Running and Clumping bamboo plants in pots and containers. Their growth and duration are limited to the size of the pots and will require care or repotting after 3 – 5 years.
A. Although most varieties of running and clumping bamboos like sunlight, they can also grow in shades. Some varieties of clump-forming bamboo plants are best for partial and full shaded areas. When planting a variety of clump-forming plants to grow in the share, ensure that the soil is well-drained.
9. Q. How much water does bamboo need?
A. Old bamboo plants have natural water storage capacity through their hollow canes/culms and rhizomes (roots). Their deep roots and long canes will be able to store water and become drought resistant.
A. New bamboo will need water to grow until the roots and culms are well established. Water generously, but not too much water to avoid waterlogging. Lack of water or too much water can kill them.
10. When is the right time to prune bamboo plants?
A. Summer checks: In the Summer, the plants would have grown to full height, and the rhizomes have reached far and wide or packed in clumps. Prune the culms and rhizomes, but not an ideal time to grow or re-pot the bamboos they may not survive the cold in Winter.
A. Spring checks: In the early Spring, the new shoots are an indication of how far the plants have grown and how healthy they are. This gives you an ideal opportunity to prune, re-pot or dig out the intruding rhizomes and canes.