Hardy Bamboo for Special Situations

water tolerant hardy bamboo

Bamboo next to Pond

Hardy Bamboo can be used for many purposes, and in many different situations. A friend asked me which hardy bamboo species would be suitable for wet conditions, and be good to eat. I thought that I would write a very quick post to answer his question, and to share that information with anybody else searching for it. An added benefit to me is that helping a friend has highlighted a few more species of bamboo that might be of use to me in the future. I will certainly be browsing a few of the bamboo nursery websites to see which of them stock these plants.


Yesterday I published a post called Bamboo Books for Permaculture, which discussed the two books that I use for my bamboo research. My first action on reading Mark’s question was to turn to the back of Bamboo for Gardens, by Ted Meredith. In the section on plants for waterlogged conditions he lists 5 bamboo species. On the same page he has a list of the major edible species, and two of them are in the waterlogged list. hey presto. Two minutes reading, for two matches. I then looked up the two plants in Hardy Bamboo, by Paul Whittaker, which gave me some details about the plants. I’ve listed them below.

Hardy Bamboo for Wet Conditions

Phyllostachys atrovaginata

This bamboo species will grow up to 8 meters tall (average 6 meters/20 ft.). It has a culm diameter of up to 6 cm/2.4 ins. and is hardy to -22 C. paul describes this as one of his favourites, as the culms tapers quickly from a thick base, and mature quickly. The LINK takes you to an entry for this plant from a bamboo nursery in Scotland

Phyllostachys nidularia

This bamboo species will grow up to 10 meters tall (average 6 meters/20 ft.). It has a culm diameter of up to 4 cm/1.6 ins. and is hardy to -18 C. The description in Hardy Bamboo confirms the edibility of the plant. ‘In China it is grown for its sweet tasting, well textured shoots, which are processed for dried food‘. Ted Meredith describes them as being good to eat even when raw. What a great selection.

Other Water Tolerant Bamboo Species

Phyllostachys  heteroclada

This is one of the bamboo species well known for being able to grow in wet conditions. (It’s known as the Water Bamboo). Like all of the hardy bamboo species that can be grown in the UK, it can be eaten, but may need a change of cooking water to remove any bitterness. It grows to a maximum height of 9 meters/30 ft in the Uk, averaging 6 meters/20 ft. Has a culm diameter of up to 3 cm/1.2 inches, and is hardy to a temperature of – 21 C.

Creating Suitable Planting Conditions for other Bamboo Species

Whilst the species of bamboo listed above are good in wet conditions, many bamboo species will perform really well if the rhizomes and root system are raised above standing water. Indeed one way to stop an otherwise invasive species from taking over a space might be to create a raised island surrounded by a ditch filled with water. On a smaller scale, creating a series of raised mounds and dips would create a really diverse habitat of wet channels, and dry banks. Not only would this allow a wider range of bamboo species to grow in wet areas, but would encourage wildlife, or perhaps make a good environment for keeping ducks. As bamboo retains its leaves during Winter it would also continue to use water and nutrients whenever the temperature was warm enough to allow growth. This might make it a suitable plant to use in WET systems, or other water treatment systems, especially in the milder parts of the country.

Looking Ahead

I will certainly be thinking about using a couple of these hardy bamboo species in the future, and hope that some of you reading this would consider it if you have wet conditions.


After reading about these hardy bamboo plants, I ordered two of the P. atrovaginata plants from Scottish Bamboo. Since I posted this, the plants are in short supply. I wonder if there’s a connection?



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