En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
3 ratings

Sunday - March 26, 2006

From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Native alternatives for non-native, invasive bamboo in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I hope you can help me. This is not about wildflowers. I'm interested in planting bamboo as a screen (25'+). I know all the pros/cons and would need to have a nursery to put in barrier. I need some good sources/and or contacts to purchase bamboo that will thrive in this area. Can you direct me? Thanks so much.


Our focus and expertise are in plants native to North America. The only bamboo native to North America is switch cane or giant cane (Arundinaria gigantea). There are two subspecies, Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. ssp. gigantea and Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl. ssp. tecta (Walt.) McClure. A. gigantea is apparently hardy down to -23 degrees F, grows to 25 feet and does occur in New York. You are already aware that bamboos can be invasive since they spread quickly by rhizomes (underground stems). You certainly should install a barrier to keep it from spreading out of control. A suggestion for a different native plant to serve as a screen is Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). It is evergreen and would also form a dense, tall screen, although it would not grow as quickly as the giant cane.

For nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants, visit our National Suppliers Directory There are also internet sites (such as, Bamboo Garden and Lewis Bamboo) that list A. gigantea as well as non-native bamboos for sale.

More Non-Natives Questions

Problems with Indian Hawthorn in Richmond TX
February 19, 2010 - I have a lot of Indian Hawthorne plants. I have noticed over the last couple of years that sporadically one will develope a brown area that looks like it was burned or had gasoline poured on it. The...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Littleleaf Boxwood and native alternatives for Baltimore
January 06, 2005 - I am looking for a small hedge or shrub, that will look nice year round, and won't get too large. I live in Baltimore, MD. I have heard of Winter Gem Boxwood. Will this prove hardy in my area? H...
view the full question and answer

Italy in Texas
July 02, 2008 - Just want to clear up that I'm not in Italy, VERMONT. I'm in Italy, TEXAS. I don't know how the state slot changed from TX to Vermont, but please, I'm like you, lets just stick to TEXAS !
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native privet in Austin
November 15, 2010 - My 2 privet shrubs/bushes facing the east in a shady area seem to be have less leaves and dead flowers, while across a walk way that 1 privet shrub/bush has lots of green leaves with lots of dying flo...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native plumeria in Inverness FL
October 05, 2009 - I have several plumeria plants that I planted in the ground this spring. I will soon need to dig them up and store them in the garage for the winter, as I left some last year that died with the frost...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center