You may think of bamboo as a water-loving grass plant that grows to treelike heights beside rivers or in dense colonies. While this type of bamboo is a common runner type of bamboo, there are other varieties of bamboo too. Clumping bamboo is more suited for landscaping purposes since it does not tend to grow as tall and does not spread past flower beds or underneath fences in the same way that runner bamboo does. Varieties of clumping bamboo have a clumped root ball instead of spreading roots.
Clumping bamboo can grow in much higher elevations than the water-loving runner bamboo. As a result, some varieties of clumping bamboo have developed strong resistances to cold. If you live in a colder climate, choose a bamboo type like Fargesia nitida, which can withstand temperatures as low as negative -6.67 degrees Celsius. Other varieties may not have this much resistance but can still survive in cooler climates with winters that may kill other types of bamboo.
Some types of clumping bamboo are not cold hardy. Far from it -- they are tropical plants that are sensitive to cold. If you live in a warm climate and want a showy bamboo species for your landscaping project, choose a cold sensitive clumping variety, like the Bambusa multiplex. If you live in a mild climate, select an in-between variety like the Chusquea delicatula which has unusual growth patterns.
Large clumping bamboo varieties can rival the growth of runner bamboo, and Bambusa strains can reach up to 50 feet, so be careful when choosing a planting area for these. Fargesia robusta is one of the tallest mild clumping bamboo species and can grow over 15 feet high, so trim these varieties and give them plenty of space to grow.
Smaller clumping bamboo varieties like Fargesia murielae and Fargesia nitida tend to stay around 10 feet at the highest and can be trimmed to keep them lower to the ground, which makes these varieties the ideal height for bamboo hedges or screens, so try planting smaller clumping bamboo strains together.