Phyllostachys nigra

Black Bamboo

Plant Type:


Phyllostachys nigra - Black Bamboo. A stand of Black Bamboo is unquestionably elegant. Pale burgundy sheaths protecting new culms (stems) poke from the soil in spring. Sheaths fall away as the culms rise and strengthen revealing green wood. Culms can achieve full height sometime in late spring to early summer which means they are jet-fast by botanical standards, growing weekly as much as a meter! Brown flecking occurs during the growing season. All new culms are spotted and dotted with black as winter nears. Though the timetable varies it is often in the 2nd season that culms turn entirely black. Culms which can rise as tall as 30 feet are 1" to 2" diameter. Fertile, organic soil is a must... the richer the better. Rhizomes should be planted 1" to 6" deep. Rhizomes genetically sense warmest soil - where the sun hits the ground and make a run for that spot. Yes, these love the warmth; they follow the sun. Half to full sun is a good exposure where once established they generally will trek southward from the initial planting as the ground to the north is increasingly shaded. Being aware of this trait will be a helpful consideration before planting.

But the siting of this plant that must be approached with utmost regard and respect for neighbors. You must approach this entire genus with consideration of fellow human beings firmly planted in your head and heart before you firmly plant it in the ground. Black Bamboo is not by definition invasive, e.g. it sets seed but once in its very long lifetime making it a rare liability if at all. Rather, it is a very aggressive spreader, a voracious colonizer. A happy, established colony can "run" many feet in a season. The Connecticut Nursery & Landscape Association offers this solution for those planting near a property line. Indeed, this is now mandated by the legislature in the State of Connecticut: "You can construct a barrier out of polyethylene, metal, cement or fiberglass to surround the plant and avoid undesirable spread. The barrier should extend 28" - 30" deep into the soil, and extend above the soil at least 2". Polyethylene lasts longest and is most flexible to be free-formed to any desired bed line. Leave a 2" lip above the ground to check for any rhizomes (roots) that may try to grow over it. When properly installed, the rhizome barrier provides excellent containment of your bamboo plant." It is only considerate and respectful of neighbors to not plant anything that may tread unwanted onto their property. If you have good relations with neighbors planting a running bamboo on the property line is one sure way to sour what once had been pleasant association. One note I would make... the polyethylene had better be many millimeters thick and military grade otherwise rhizomes could conceivably stab a hole in quest of new territory. If planting in the midst of a large grassy area that is consistently mowed this will keep the bamboo in check. Also, Black Bamboo abhors clay soil. Actually planting your bamboo in a rich mix in a doughnut hole girded with a formidable barrier which is then surrounded with a thick doughnut of clay can double your effect in containing spread. If planted in the middle of a lawn which is mowed then perhaps a clay barrier will be all that you require as the mowing will keep in check newly sprouted culms. Annual rhizome pruning will be effective in control... may you have the fortune of free time to accomplish this yourself or be blessed with enough capital to hire the necessary muscle.


30 ft


(6b)7 to 10
What is my hardiness zone?
Item Description Price  
PHYLNIG Phyllostachys nigra (5 inch Square x 6 inch Tall - true 2 quarts / 1.8927 liters) $30.00 Buy Now

Characteristics and Attributes for Phyllostachys nigra

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Spring / Summer / Autumn

Interesting Bark

  • Smooth
  • Colored

Nature Attraction

  • Deer Resistant


  • Mostly Sunny
  • Full Sun


  • Massing
  • Specimen
  • Screen

Growth Rate in the Garden

  • Rapid


  • Moist
  • Fertile
  • Draining


  • Japan

Propagated By

  • Division