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Complete Bamboo Buyer's Guide

The purpose of this buyer’s guide is to give you a few tips and pointers to consider before purchasing a live bamboo plant for your garden or home. Bamboo can be purchased online or from your local nursery. It is important to examine bamboo before purchasing and we offer a few tips on how to gauge the quality of the plant before you take it home.

Buying Bamboo Online

There are many nurseries in the United States who are now offering live bamboo plants online. On the plus side, this gives gardeners a near limitless amount of varieties and species to choose from. Many species that were once difficult to acquire are now readily available with just a few clicks of the mouse. On the down side, it is impossible to examine the quality of the specimen you are purchasing. We have purchased bamboo from multiple online suppliers (we won’t name names) and have occasionally been disappointed in the quality of the product. Many nurseries will guarantee the quality of the shipped plant, and provide some type of refund policy if the bamboo reaches you in sub-par condition. There are certain logistical obstacles to overcome when purchasing any live plant online and you can’t always count on UPS or FedEx to take exceptional care of the bamboo during shipment. Many areas require the plant to be shipped soil free, further increasing the plants vulnerability in transit. Overall, buying bamboo online is an excellent route to take when your local nursery doesn't carry the perfect variety for your garden. Here are a few things to consider before making your purchase.

Buying Bamboo from a Nursery

Purchasing from a local nursery is the recommended way to buy a live bamboo plant. When buying from a nursery one can easily examine the quality of each individual plant. This also gives you a better idea of how well each variety of bamboo carried by the nursery grows in your local climate. In addition, you are able to see firsthand how the bamboo will look in your own landscape. Nursery associates are experts at raising and cultivating young plants and can offer specific growing advice for your area. The largest downfall to buying from a nursery is often the selection of plants offered. Most nurseries in the United States only offer a handful of bamboo species to choose from. Whenever possible, we recommend looking for a specialty nursery that deals exclusively with bamboo.  Bamboo nurseries usually offer a wider selection of species at lower prices than their non-specialist counterparts. They can also provide you with bamboo growing accessories, such as rhizome barriers. Some bamboo nurseries will even offer delivery, consulting, and removal services. Here are a few tips to consider before buying from a nursery.

How to Examine a Bamboo Plant before Purchasing

Evaluating the quality of a live bamboo plant is an important step to take before making your purchase. Every component of the plant will need to be healthy to ensure the bamboo is able to thrive.

Roots and Rhizomes – The root and rhizome system is the primary indicator of a bamboo plant’s growth potential. Healthy rhizomes are typically creamy white or yellow in color, and should appear slippery. Avoid rhizomes that are excessively dry or brown in color. Ideally, the girth or circumference of newly emerging rhizomes should be larger than the established culms. This will indicate the plant is capable of producing larger culms than the ones visible in the container. It is often not possible to examine the rhizomes in your average nursery, but take advantage whenever possible.

Culms – Culms are a great indicator of the bamboo plants overall quality, as well as its potential for future growth. The newest culms in a bamboo grove are the most important to examine. The most recent year of growth should be larger in both diameter and height than the previous year. This gives you assurance that the plant’s vigor is increasing, rather than decreasing. In addition, culms should look appropriate in color and shape based on its species. Avoid plants that are not exhibiting the normal characteristics of its species.

Branches and Leaves – The foliage of bamboo is the least important indicator of the plant’s future growth potential. Foliage is, however, important to examine purely for the aesthetics of your garden. Bamboo is an evergreen plant and its leaves should remain green throughout the year. When buying bamboo in summer of autumn, it is okay if the leaves are showing some browning due to the increase in temperatures. Ultimately, you just need look at the plant's overall appearance, and make the decision of whether or not its look is suitable for your landscape.