Fountain Bamboo Hedging

Fountain bamboo, or fargesia nitida, is the perfect choice if you want to create a bamboo hedge, but fear that it will overgrow all the other plants in your garden. While most types of bamboo tend to become invasive and are therefore unfit for hedging purposes, both varieties of the bushy, non-invasive and clumping fargesia nitida can be planted safely in any garden. With an average annual growth rate of 50 to 75 centimetres per year, they are still relatively fast growers, but they will not push up your tiles or pavement. Neither will they pop up unexpectedly in your neighbours garden. These qualities make fountain bamboo an excellent option for anyone who is looking for year-round screening, but does not like the traditional appearance of a neatly trimmed, formal conifer hedge.

With their long, fresh green leaves and coloured stems, both the naturally occurring fargesia nitida (simply known as fountain bamboo) and the fargesia nitida ‘Jiuzhaigou’ cultivar (often referred to as red bamboo) will give your garden a different character than many other screening hedge plants will. While this hedge plant, like all other bamboo species, is often associated with East Asia and is sure to lend an oriental flair to your garden, fountain bamboo is a strong, versatile plant that will have no problems whatsoever thriving in our climate. It is exceptionally frost hardy, but does not like hot summers. In addition, fountain bamboo is evergreen and relatively undemanding in terms of maintenance, making it an ideal plant for hedging purposes.

Fountain Bamboo as a Hedge Plant

It is not so strange that fountain bamboo, along other bamboo species, makes us think of the Far East immediately, as bamboo is native to East Asia. This particular type of bamboo originates from the central Chinese province of Sichuan and was first introduced to more western regions when it was planted in the Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden in the late nineteenth century. fountain bamboo strongly resembles fargesia murielae, better known as umbrella bamboo, another non-invasive type of bamboo suitable for hedging. These two bamboo species can easily be distinguished, however, by the colour of their canes. Umbrella bamboo has yellow canes, while the canes of the fountain bamboo are olive-purple and those of the ‘Jiuzhaigou’ cultivar are crimson red, which immediately explains why it is more commonly known as red bamboo.

Both fountain bamboo and red bamboo are very useful plants for your garden. Not only does their rapid growth rate guarantee that you will have a tall, dense screening hedge within only a few years; its strong, thick canes can also be used to support heavier plants, such as the relatively heavy flower heads of some types of hydrangea. Before these canes will reach their aforementioned colours, they will be green in their early years. While this type of bamboo is popular as a raw material in East Asia, used to produce paper and timber and even as a part of certain dishes, it is mainly known as a garden plant in Europe and the UK. Garden enthusiasts in our part of the world often plant fountain bamboo as a specimen or in a thicket.

Low-Maintenance Fargesia Nitida Hedges

Since fargesia nitida is not very tolerant of hot summer temperatures, it would be wise to plant your fountain bamboo hedge in partial to full shade. Ideally, this shady position will still allow your hedge to soak up a couple of hours of morning or afternoon sun, as the canes do need a certain amount of sunlight in order to reach their characteristic colours. When it comes to soil requirements, fountain bamboo is a very tolerant and undemanding plant, as it will perform well in just about any soil, though it will thrive in a neutral or acidic soil. If you choose to plant the ‘Jiuzhaigou’ cultivar in your garden, it will even let you know if you have planted your hedge in the right position, as its leaves will curl up if conditions are too hot, cold or dry.

Red bamboo and fountain bamboo are both not picky regarding soil types, and maintaining them is truly a breeze. These hedge plants do not necessarily need to be pruned. They are very tolerant of pruning, however, which means you can cut your hedge back to its desired height at any time you like. Both varieties will reach an ultimate height of 3 metres within a couple of years. Mature fountain bamboo will arch under the weight of its foliage, which may not sound too appealing, but the arching canes will make your hedge look quite elegant. While neither of the fountain bamboo varieties will shed its leaves during the colder months, the leaves of the red bamboo have a beautiful yellowish autumn colouring.

Fountain Bamboo for Screening Hedges

While bamboo may not be the type of plant most commonly associated with hedging, fountain bamboo is simply an excellent hedging plant, capable of providing screening and a beautiful, oriental appearance. We realise that bamboo has a bad reputation as a garden plant, but neither the regular fountain bamboo or the fountain bamboo ‘Jiuzhaigou’ possesses any of the invasive qualities that make most bamboo types unfit for hedging purposes. Planting a red bamboo hedge or a fountain bamboo hedge in your garden will grant you the same screening opportunities as traditional evergreen hedge plants will, but with a completely different appearance that is sure to make your garden stand out.

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