Did you know bamboo is a type of grass despite its stability and height? Besides that quick fact check, did you know that there is black bamboo? Even more, black is just a color rather than a botanical classification and the same is further classified into clumping and running. So if you seek non-invasive bamboo, the clumping black bamboo species would be perfect.
In this article, we will provide an in-depth understanding of the clumping black bamboo plants. Also, we will distinguish this black bamboo variety from the running black bamboo. Generally, black bamboo offers unique exotic aesthetics for any landscape, including home yards. Nonetheless, before we get to the details of clumping black bamboo, let's demystify the black bamboo.
What is Black Bamboo?
Black bamboo in itself draws the description from its culm's (stem's) color. Probably, you might have spotted such bamboos and maybe thought they were disease or pest-infested. That said, the ebony appearances take time to develop, with slight hints of dark brown during the earlier growth stages. Naturally, the very dark brown or black takes up to three years to develop.
Accordingly, black bamboo can be grown in a garden or even in a container on a terrace or balcony. Moreover, the earlier mentioned types of black bamboo, running and clumping, are very distinct. They feature different unique growing conditions which aren't interchangeable.
Uses of Black Bamboo
Black bamboo species are used as hedges for windbreaking or privacy. As privacy screens, black bamboo comes with the advantage of being an evergreen plant. Such a sight to behold, leathery bushy dark green foliage and black stems.
Even more, black bamboo can be used as ornamental by having their black stems as decorative pieces in a garden or pots. For the black culms to stand out, you can plant this variety with other culm-colored varieties for a colorful outlook. Overall, black is neutral, meaning black bamboo will easily fit in almost any garden with differently colored plants.
Clumping vs. Running Black Bamboo
1. Running Black Bamboo
Similar to most grass varieties, black bamboo is mostly known to propagate through runners. Runners are known for their fast and aggressive growth mode, thus the rapid spread of grass. In particular, the underground rhizomes cause the running black bamboo to pop up anywhere around your garden. In the long run, eradicating the running black bamboo can be hectic since you have to eliminate each rhizome in the underground runner network.
Taking after its name, the running black bamboo takes over as much area as possible. A good example of the running black bamboo is the Phyllostachys nigra, which is an aggressive grower. However, such a variety is resistant to winter and thrives better in cold areas than tropics. Nonetheless, you can tame the growth of running black bamboo varieties, but we cannot promise it will be easy. Eventually, while behaving, running black bamboo can be ideal for landscaping.
2. Clumping Black Bamboo
On the other hand, clumping black bamboo propagates by forming tight clumps that don't spread wide like the running varieties. This type is an excellent choice if you are looking for a behaving black variety for a limited space. Accordingly, this type is easy to manage, thanks to its growth style. Ideally, the clumping varieties also utilize rhizomes to grow, but their rhizomes tend upwards, forming culms.
We prefer clumping bamboo because it does what is expected of it with no huge surprises. However, the clumping black bamboo isn't as impressive in terms of growth rate and aesthetics as the cold-hardy running variety. Also, clumping black bamboos are rare, unlike the running varieties which are commonly used.
Where Can Clumping Bamboo Grow?
Clumping varieties can further be divided into cold-hard and tropical varieties. The cold-hardy clumping varieties grow well in mountainous regions. However, in warmer climatic zones, these species might struggle to grow and often wither and die due to the high humidity and summer heat.
The cold-hard varieties are, however, slow growers. In most cases, this type reaches a height of 8-12 feet. In addition, the cold-hard variety is not suitable for screening since it has a narrow base. Therefore, it leaves big gaps between the individual plants due to weeping over at the top.
On the other hand, the tropical clumping varieties thrive in relatively warm zones. In appearance, the tropical clumpers are huge, and they also grow fast but not like the running bamboo. Moreover, unlike the cold-hard clumpers, the tropical varieties grow very close to each other.
Also, due to many dead stems and limbs, the interior of the tropical clumpers is very dense. Subsequently, tropical clumping bamboo often appears poorly maintained since its difficult to reach the dead limbs. Fortunately, the density can be used for effective screening. In the end, the cold-hard and tropical varieties are interchangeable, leaving you with the simple choice of varieties that suit your climate zone.
Varieties of Clumping Black Bamboo
1. Bambusa Lako (Black Lako and Timor Black)
This popular tropical variety is considered one of the best black bamboos for landscaping. Unfortunately, cold temperatures cause this black bamboo variety to die. Therefore, we recommend planting this variety in suitable areas for the best outcomes. The Bambusa Lako culms begin as green and progressively develop a rich coffee brown which eventually turns black.
Moreover, this black bamboo can be grown in pots and gardens, depending on your beautification ideas. In most cases, the Black Lako is grown as an ornamental plant, which is uniquely large with dark green bushy leaves. As such, it's best applicable in smaller growing areas like pots and narrow beds. Overall, Timor Black bamboo is easy to maintain and can be used for light screening solutions.
2. G. Atroviolacia (Java Black, Tropical Black)
The Java Black bamboo plant is another tropical clumping variety that grows bigger than the Black Lako but is less upright. Its stems start as dark green and progressively evolve to purplish-black with thick nodes of pale white. Compared to the Bambusa, the Java Black has a more deep black color.
3. Black Asper (betung hitam)
The Black Asper is an Indonesian black bamboo that develops to become drought-tolerant and frost-resistant. Nonetheless, this variety is sensitive to extreme cold and thus not a typical cold-hard clumper. This species is rare but amazing when you have it in your garden.
Additionally, this variety requires a large area to grow since it develops large leaves and stems. For instance, when grown in the right conditions, this variety can grow big to over 100 feet (30 meters) tall. Also, the Black Asper is a collector's item for bamboo enthusiasts since it is rare.
Fortunately, this bamboo grows very faster despite being the big-growing variety. Even more, due to its large leaves, it offers perfect shading when the tops slightly weep over. In addition, to these attractive features, the Black Asper is non-invasive, meaning it's easy to control. Overall, this big bamboo will look beautiful in your garden, and its shoots are sweet, and edible-you can give it a try.
4. Fargesia Nitida (Black Pearl, Blue Fountain)
Another elegant clumping black bamboo variety is the Fragesia nitida, commonly known as a Black Pearl or Blue Fountain. This variety is unique because it can live over a century under the right conditions and climate. In appearance, this variety has a delicate outlook, but in the real sense, it's very hardy.
On top of that, this variety is resistant and disease-free, making it a great addition to a garden. The last thing you want for a home garden is a plant often plagued by pests and diseases. Plant this species in a semi-shade for the best growth outcomes, where the leaves won't be exposed to strong direct sunlight. Another fitting condition is fertile soils that retain moisture.
Black Pearl bamboo is non-invasive, matching its true clumping characteristic. Therefore, you can grow this variety in a pot on a patio or a garden. There are several variations of the Black Pearl, like the Trifina, which is popular for its pleasing aesthetics.
Black Pearl (Trifina) grows with a rugged appearance with a touch of purple-black on the stems and evergreen foliage. The contrasting colors add color to any space, thus its preference. Eventually, the culms turn black, but it often requires time to heal from the winter's cold. This black bamboo is most beautiful when planted in isolation in any small space.
5. Borinda Fungosa (Chocolate Bamboo)
True to its name, this clumping black bamboo develops unique chocolate-colored stems and limbs. During the early growth stages, the chocolate shade is light, and it darkens as canes grow older. Contrastingly, it develops evergreen leaves, which add beauty to any garden or space.
Additionally, the sound of chocolate immediately got some of you salivating, and no kidding, its shoots are edible and sweet. But of course, you won't get the chocolate flavor. Also, the culms of this variety are good for weaving. Overall, Chocolate Bamboo is non-invasive and is easy to control as a screen or hedge.
Controlling Clumping Black Bamboo
Choosing the clumping black bamboo over the running variety already saves you the stress of managing and controlling bamboo. However, you still need to control the clumping variety for neat gardens and beautiful aesthetics. Fortunately, clumping black bamboo doesn't spread fast and far, making it relatively easy to control.
Notably, clumping black bamboos aren't non-invasive but are forceful when growing. Being forceful, this type grows even in the presence of root barriers in the ground, unlike the running type, which follows paths of least resistance. For easy clumping control, avoid planting clumpers next to concrete driveways or foundations to avoid cracking the surfaces.
Also, remove dead canes and limbs as soon as they drop since new growth will soon flume around the dead canes. As a result, there will be limited space for tidying your clumping bamboo plants. You should also match the growing space with the type of clumping black bamboo you choose. Eventually, this will help prevent height or density inconveniences as your black bamboo plant (s) grow.
Generally, it's time you add black aesthetics to your garden, and there is no better way than having black bamboo. Considering that modern gardens are continually growing smaller, the clumping black bamboos are the perfect additions. Even so, remember to match your select clumping black bamboo to the right growth conditions for the best outcomes.