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Should You Grow Invasive Running Bamboo Plants?

The running bamboos have rhizomes that grow away from the parent plants. That is why they are often referred to as invasive bamboos.

The clump-forming bamboo plants are non-invasive. As the name implies, the rhizomes are compact at the base, forming clumps.

You can grow both varieties and enjoy them. There is no need to worry if you grow them right.

Find out how to grow running bamboo plants without worrying about their invasiveness.

Grow running bamboo plants in the garden

There are many reasons to grow bamboo plants in the garden. We covered them in detail here: hedge, privacy screen, pot and container bamboos, bamboo for sticks and balcony screens.

There are hundreds of bamboo plants that grow well in the UK. Each bamboo is suitable for gardens and can be used for different purposes. The links above are some examples of bamboos that you can use depending on what you’d like them to do.

Phyllostachys bissettii green bamboo tall hedge plant
Phyllostachys Bissettii (Green Bamboo)

Planning before planting bamboos

The running bamboo can be a concern because of the potential impacts on the other structures. Here at, we advocate for planning before planting. This means taking two actions.

Firstly, survey the nearby site. The initial survey does not have to take longer than 10 minutes. Yet, it is important to control the bamboo from the start.

So, find out

  • what is near the potential bamboo site;
  • what are the likely impacts on the built environment; and
  • whether it’s necessary to grow running bamboo plants.

Secondly, use a root barrier. Regardless of where you are going to grow the running bamboo plants, a root barrier is vital to spreading.

bamboo roots rhizomes barriers UK
Read about root barriers – click on the image

Take precautions when growing running bamboo plants

The steps above will stop the running bamboo plants from invading the built areas or neighbours’ gardens.

Survey the garden site and use root barriers before planting.

Do not grow the running bamboo close to the paths and buildings. As a rule of thumb, grow the running bamboo at least 5 metres away from any built area.

Another option is to grow the running bamboos in large heavy-duty pots. The pots will act as barriers so that there is no need to spend extra money on root barriers. Also, you can move the pots and place them wherever you want.

The disadvantage is that you may have to re-pot the plants every 5 or 10 years. Not bad because it’s less work than digging up the running bamboo rhizomes in the garden.

how to grwo bamboo in pot and container planters

What to do when bamboo invades other spaces?

In fact, it can cost you a lot of money, time and effort to bring them under control later.

If your garden bamboo invades other sections or the neighbour’s side, you’ll have to act fast. An effective way to remove running bamboo rhizomes is to dig them up completely.

Uprooting bamboo plants is hard work because the rhizomes are tough. But the underground parts do not grow deep, they are often found on the top 30 – 50 cm layer of the soil.

To remove the bamboo rhizomes, dig around the plants to get an idea about how far they’ve grown. Then, use a pickaxe and crew bar to remove small sections until all is done. Alternatively, dig around the plants and put in root barriers.

Take a look at how we managed to bring our running bamboo plants under control in this YouTube video. Related article here – Tools You’ll Need to Remove Running Bamboo Rhizomes.

What running bamboo plants can you grow in the UK?

Bamboos are fast-growing hedge and privacy screen plants. Yet their invasiveness is a concern. Here are the control measures worth repeating.

  • Survey the area before planting running bamboos;
  • Use bamboo root barriers.
  • Plant bamboos in large heavy-duty pots.

UK Bamboo Plants for Sale

Top 5 running bamboo to plant in the garden

So, here are the top 5 running bamboos that you can plant in the garden. (Get more information via the links)

  • 1) Phyllostachys Aurea (Fishpole bamboo) – Tall, slim and tough bamboos, ideal for garden sticks. If you want a good supply of bamboo sticks to use in the garden, this is the best bamboo.
  • 2) Phyllostachys Bissettii (Green Bamboo): tall culms and long, dark green leaves, dense evergreen foliage. A fantastic bamboo for the border hedge or privacy screen.
  • 3) Phyllostachy Areosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ (Golden Groove Bamboo) – spectacular culms, ideal for the driveway, or tall hedge and privacy screens. It’s also great as an individual plant, plant it where you can see the colours (yellow and green stripes) all year round.
  • 4) Phyllostachys vivax aureocaulis (Golden Chinese Timber Bamboo) – similar to Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’, but bigger and taller. This timber bamboo has yellow and stunning green stripes. Best for thick privacy screens.
  • 5) Bamboo Phyllostachys Sulphurea Viridis (Ougon-kou Chiku Bamboo) – a stunning ornamental plant due to its appearance. At 4m average height, this bamboo is a great addition to woodland forests, large gardens and dense garden hedges. It is edible bamboo. Very invasive.

Red, yellow and black bamboo plants

Bamboos come in many different colours, sizes and shapes. Bamboo gardeners know that there is always the right bamboo for every garden.

The 5 bamboos above are yellow and green bamboos. You can also get red bamboo and black bamboo in the UK. Follow the links to read more about each bamboo and its cultivars.

For example, Phyllostachys rubromarginata, (also called the Reddish Bamboo or Red Margin Bamboo) has a rather reddish colour on the new shoots. This running bamboo is tall and upright. It tends to spread very quickly, ideal for tall hedges and quick natural privacy screens.

Where to buy running bamboo in the UK?

Your nearest garden centres will have supplies of running bamboo plants. Ask for the features and growth requirements, and what you expect of the plant. Get their professional opinion on what to do to stop the bamboo from invading other built areas.

Many labels on the running bamboo plants do not have a warning on them. So make sure to find out how far the running bamboo is likely to spread.

Check out the UK-renowned garden shops.

Bamboo Plants and Supplies

UK Suppliers

Non-invasive Bamboo Collections

Fargesia Bamboo Plants

Black, Green & Yellow Bamboo Plants

Gardening Essentials

Best Hand Tools for Digging Bamboo

Phyllostachys Bamboo Plants

Should You Grow Running Bamboo Plants?

The running bamboo plants are best for garden hedges and privacy screens. Golden Yellow Bamboo and Bamboo Vivax are stunning standalone plants.

These bamboo plants grow fast and provide evergreen cover all year round.

To enjoy them, take precautions, use root barriers or grow them in pots.

3 thoughts on “Should You Grow Invasive Running Bamboo Plants?”

  1. Well, you only get to have problems with running bamboo plants if you do not take care of them. They are fantastic plants, great for privacy, and more so, they are not like trees that get completely block the views of your neighbours. I grew running bamboo in my garden and they are the best screens.

  2. I think if you are growing running bamboo, you should always use a root barrier. It’s only what I think, but its better to be safe than sorry.

  3. If you are worried about growing running bamboo, why not grow clump-forming bamboo? There are low maintenenace and do not spread.

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