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Like Bamboo but hate the hassle. Think Fargesia.

There are 1500 species of bamboo. It is found on almost every continent. It grows in the tropics and in cold mountain valleys. Some species are no more than 6 inches tall and several can reach 100 feet or more. You can eat it, build homes and furniture with it and it has a tensile strength that surpasses steel. Really a super plant in so many ways!

But if you are trying to landscape with it you really have to ask yourself one question. Does it run or does it clump?

Most running bamboos (such as Phyllostachys nigra, p. aureosulcata or hibanobambusa tranquillans) are aggressive spreaders. Without proper root pruning these plants can take over a small plot in no time at all. While there are several stategies to contain them most require a strong back and a sharp shovel. Beautiful plants that have a place but know what you are getting into.

Clumping bamboos (such as Fargesia rufa or F. denudata) spread much more slowly. Most of the clumping bamboos will spread 2 or 3 inches a year from the center of the plant. This also makes them a great plant to pot.

I like Fargesia rufa for several reasons. It maxes out at about 8 feet which is great for most screening or privacy issues. It tends to like part shade which means it is applicable to a lot of northern exposures. It is also deer resistant which is really important in my neck of the woods.

Widley available in most good garden centers. Expect to pay around $150 for a 10 gallon plant.

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