When it comes to Black or Golden Bamboo, we are often asked which bamboo to choose. Unlike tropical bamboo, both Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo) and Phyllostachys aurea (golden bamboo) are UK hardy and retain their evergreen foliage all year round. Phyllostachys aurea has golden yellow canes. Phyllostachys nigra has striking black stems or culms and once established, it tends to have long black canes and mops of feather green foliage on top.
When deciding which bamboo to choose, keep in mind that the most striking difference between Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) and Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) is the culm colouration. Golden Bamboo sports green culms that develop a golden hue as they mature. Black Bamboo features green culms that darken to black in one to three years.
Golden Bamboo requires a frost-free time frame of at least 26 weeks after planting in order to firmly establish itself, so only plant if you are sure that there is no danger of frost in the foreseeable future. It flourishes when planted in full sunlight in a location that features moist deep loam with a pH of between 5 and 7.5. The planting site should be well-draining. The soil depth should be at least 36 centimeters.
Plant Black Bamboo in the early spring months in a planting location that features full sun or partial shade. In mild climates, black bamboo can be planted at any time of the year. After planting, Black Bamboo tends to take five or six years before it becomes firmly established and the culms reach their full height potential. After planting, the new culms of the black bamboo appear green and may take up to three years before they turn completely black.
The Black Bamboo likes soil that is high in organic matter. Choose a planting site that is well-draining. Keep the soil moist, but not overly saturated to encourage growth.
Bamboo is very versatile and because it is fast-growing, it is ideal for creating a privacy screen. Phyllostachys nigra and Phyllostachys aurea bamboo does not require a lot of maintenance and you can trim the canes to whatever shape you need. Bamboo can be short and dense or tall and feathery, with exposed stems or not. And if you are short on space, you can keep your bamboo hedge or screen tall and slim, therefore taking up minimal space horizontally.
In terms of height, sometime during the winter, trim the bamboo canes to the height you want by cutting just above a stem node. Once you cut the top off a culm, it won’t grow any higher but new foliage will be encouraged producing a denser growth. This can be shaped by trimming once per year.
Amazingly, a bamboo cane can achieve its full height after one growing season. After this it won’t get any taller. It can reach maturity in about 3 years (maturity in this case means the hardness of the culm).