Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is a medium-sized bamboo, growing up to 7.5 m (25 feet) tall but averaging around 5.4 m (18 feet). Often called "fish pole bamboo", it is known for it's unusually strong and decorative culms (stalks), which were historically used as fishing poles. The bamboo thrives in temperate growing zones and has thin, graceful, light-green leaves. Once established, the plant is very hardy and can survive the windy conditions that many other species of bamboo cannot. It is often used by landscapers as a privacy screen, but it spreads very rapidly and must be controlled.
Choose the right time to plant golden bamboo. Plant it in the spring, after any danger of a hard frost has passed. Wait until it rains so that the soil is moist and easily workable.
Select a sunny location for the bamboo for optimum growing conditions. Although the plant is commonly called golden bamboo, the leaves only turn yellow if exposed to full sun (at least 5 hours per day).
Till the soil to 15 cm (6 inches) with an organic mulch and nitrogen-rich fertiliser. Or, work the mulch and fertiliser into the soil with your hands (protect them with gardening gloves).
Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. The main horizontal rhizome (root) should be only 2.5 cm (1 inch) below the surface of the ground.
Place the bamboo in the hole and fill in the spaces with soil. Tamp it down gently and spread 5 cm (2 inches) more of mulch around the plant.
Stake the golden bamboo if it is not sturdy. Press a wooden stake deep into the soil next to the culm, or stem, of the bamboo and gently tie it to the stake with some twine or string.
Water the bamboo until the ground is moist, but do not leave any standing water. Keep the soil moist throughout the hot summer months.
To control golden bamboo and keep it from spreading wildly, prune the roots 2-3 times per year. For instructions on how to prune bamboo roots (see Resources).
Tips and warnings
- To control golden bamboo and keep it from spreading wildly, prune the roots 2-3 times per year. For instructions on how to prune bamboo roots (see Resources).