En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Texas native bamboo vs. non-native for hedge.

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - August 25, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Texas native bamboo vs. non-native for hedge.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Why is Mr. Smarty Plants so against bamboo when there is a native American/Texan bamboo and an active bamboo society in the Austin area? I live in Central East Austin and I need the cheapest, fastest and densest screening plant, native to Texas, there is because I have 150' to plant across my back property line. I am thinking about river cane or switch cane because the wax myrtles I've planted don't maintain their denseness as they grow. (I am about to head to the Bamboo Society Meeting at Zilker to learn more from the speakers and vendors.)

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is not against bamboo, per se.  He is, however, very unhappy when he sees non-native bamboo taking over wild habitats.  Since you're in Central Texas, you can easily see an example of a non-native Phyllostachys aurea that has completely engulfed the banks of parts of Bear Creek in south Austin.  Other waterways in the area have been similarly affected and the problem is spreading.  Mr. Smarty Plants is not alone in his concern about non-native bamboos.  There is an excellent article on the problems associated with non-native bamboos in the April/May 2008 issue of The Grapevine, an online publication of the Williamson County (Texas) Native Plant Society.  In fairness, not all non-native bamboos are invasive.  Mr. Smarty Plants is only concerned about the species that are rampant spreaders (running types) and are cold hardy.  In South Florida, the list of problem species may be long - less so in Central Texas.

You are right that Arundinaria giganteaknown as Giant Cane, Canebreak or River Cane, is a US native species.  A riparian species, its native range extends across the American Southeast and far into East Texas, but not quite as far west as Austin.  Depending on how you classify the bamboos, A. gigantea is either the only native species or one of only three native American bamboo species.  While it forms thickets along river and creek banks, it does not form the impenetrable masses of culms that Phyllostachys species are famous for.

You might try Arundinaria gigantea as a screen.  If your soil stays moist enough, it might work just as you'd like.  However, if the soil along the back of your property is consistently dry, you might try another plant.  Eastern Red-cedar, Juniperus virginiana makes a nice screen on dry soils if planted close together.  Also, Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria, will form a dense, evergreen hedge in your area.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Supplier for non-native Norfolk Pine to East Texas
March 17, 2013 - I would like to buy a Norfolk Pine Tree for my uncle who lives 90 miles east of Dallas, Texas. He saw my Norfolk Pine tree in CA which is 30 to 40 ft. tall. Where can I find a company that will ship...
view the full question and answer

Ways to eliminate non-native bermuda grass from West Columbia SC
July 01, 2010 - Could you kill bermuda grass by heavy over-fertilizing it? Or black, solid plastic cloth? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Non-native creeping fig
February 26, 2009 - I like the creeping fig that covers my brick wall but the roots are very invasive and are choking my rose bushes and other surrounding plants. I spent two days removing the roots and loosening the so...
view the full question and answer

Research on Native vs. Non-Native Plants
October 22, 2009 - I am doing a research project on comparing and analyzing the effects of non-native plants vs. native plants on the environment and surrounding ecosystems. The end result of my project will be to desi...
view the full question and answer

Non-native wedelia and dayflower in Lihue HI
September 03, 2009 - I have wedelia as ground covering, day flower or commelinaceae takes over. What can I use or spray to rid myself of the day flower problem?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center