What is a Hedge Bamboo?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Hedge bamboo is the common name for the plant species Bambusa multiplex, which belongs to the genus Bambusa in the grass family Poaceae. Other common names for this species are golden goddess bamboo, Chinese dwarf bamboo, and Chinese goddess bamboo. This plant is an evergreen bamboo that can grow 20 to 45 feet (6 to 13 m) with stems of 0.2 to 1.5 inches (about 0.6 to 3.7 cm). The hedge bamboo is native to the eastern Himalayas and southern China, but grown in many parts of the world. This plant is typically used for hedging or as garden ornamental grass, as it is a clumper and takes well to pruning and shaping.

Color, height, and diameter of the hedge bamboo’s stems vary depending on its variety. The Bambusa multiplex alphonse karr variety grows to 10 feet (3 m) in its original habitat and up to 20 feet (6 m) in warmer climates. Its mature stems are gold with green stripes, while new stems and those exposed to sunlight typically have a reddish tint. Very much similar in form to the alphonse karr is Bambusa multiplex gold stripe, which has green stems and a single gold stripe near its clumps.

With medium-sized and evenly spaced leaves that resemble ferns, the Bambusa multiplex fernleaf variety can grow up to 20 feet (6 m) in its natural habitat. The Bambusa multiplex golden goddess variety is very similar in height to the fernleaf, but with smaller leaves and light orange stems. Both the fernleaf and golden goddess varieties are often recommended for high and dense hedging. The riviereorum grows up to 6 feet (1.8 m), while the tiny fern variety grows up to 3 feet (1 m). These two varieties are recommended for bonsai and low hedges.

The shoots of the hedge bamboo are bitter and rarely eaten. As the stems are arched and willowy, they cannot make good poles. Its canes are fairly easy to split, flexible, and commonly used in some regions as craft weaving materials for mats, baskets, and other woven goods. Paper can be made from the stems’ fiber, but the volume of pulp is too small for large-scale paper production.

Except for the Bambusa multiplex silverstripe variety, the hedge bamboo is highly tolerant of cold climates as well as heat and humidity. The wintertime cold will eliminate scale and mealy bugs, which tend to attack the hedge bamboo in warmer climates. This plant prefers sandy to clay loam soil rich in organic matter and moisture. Seeds are rarely available, so propagation is commonly done by taking divisions with three canes per clump and growing them in light shade.

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