How to Grow Golden Bamboo

An Attractive and Dense Privacy Screen, But Beware of Rapid Spread

Close up of a cluster of Golden Bamboo shoots

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Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is a perennial, long-lived and attractive 'running bamboo' type that is also sometimes referred to as Fish-pole Bamboo.

Fast-growing, and with the ability to reach over 20 feet in height, it's a popular choice for providing dramatic ornamental interest or for creating a living privacy screen or noise barrier. It's often well-established within as little as a few years.

The woody and hollow stems feature lush lance-shaped green foliage, and the lower cane has a striking golden yellow-green tortoiseshell pattern and distinct compressed internodes (the stem section between two joints).

As with most bamboo species, the golden variety rarely flowers and seed production is exceptionally unusual. You can wait as much as a decade to have a season when the bamboo displays any blooms.

Running bamboos spread rapidly through their tuberous rhizomes and, consequently, this species is considered invasive in warmer regions in the United States.

Once established, golden bamboo can be difficult to remove. If you don't want it to get out of control, it's best to grow it in containers or take careful steps to prevent its spread.

Botanical Name Phyllostachys aurea
Common Name Golden bamboo, fish-pole bamboo, monk's belly bamboo
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size Up to 20 feet tall
Sun Exposure Full sun / partial shade
Soil Type Fertile and well-drained
Soil pH Tolerates a variety
Bloom Time N/A
Flower Color N/A
Hardiness Zones 7 to 12
Native Area Southeast China

How to Grow Golden Bamboo

Golden bamboo is low-maintenance, versatile, and hardy. It will grow in a variety of temperatures and soil types. For best results, however, it prefers to be situated in full sun and planted in a fertile, moist and well-drained soil.

It's invasive properties become the biggest concern in hot and humid environments, and root barriers should be considered to help prevent aggressive spreading.

In shadier spots or those with dry, infertile soils or colder temperatures, the running nature of the bamboo is curtailed and, instead it may be clump-forming and less tall.

Light

Golden bamboo prefers a full sun position. A partial shade position will also be tolerated, although this can impact on the speed of growth.

As your canes mature, you'll see them turning from green to a golden yellow. The change in color will be more pronounced the more sunlight the bamboo receives. It's even possible from them to turn an orangey-pink shade.

Soil

This bamboo type prefers a fertile, rich, moist, well-drained loamy or sandy soil. It can, however, cope with a wide variety of soil types.

If the soil is poor and infertile, the bamboo may not work so well for privacy screening as it tends to form in clumps instead. But at least you won't have any issues trying to control its aggressive spread.

Water

Golden bamboo prefers moist conditions. In hot summer months, it may benefit from watering a few times a week if it's held in a container, and at least weekly in a garden environment.

Part of the appeal of this plant, however, is its surprising drought-tolerance once it's fully established, and it can cope in soggy, but not waterlogged, conditions, too.

Temperature and Humidity

Golden bamboo can grow across a wide variety of temperatures.

It thrives in areas that replicate hot and moist tropical climates. In these conditions, however, it can quickly spread out of control.

This species is relatively cold-hardy too and can cope with temperatures down to five degrees Fahrenheit, although it doesn't grow as tall or as quickly. In these climates, it usually acts like a clump-forming variety rather than displaying its running capabilities.

Be aware that golden bamboo doesn't appreciate dry, cold winds.

Propagating Golden Bamboo

Because golden bamboo rarely flowers and doesn't generally produce seeds, propagation should be done by careful division or basal cane cuttings.

This is best done when new growth appears in the spring, and greater success tends to be seen from stems nurtured in pots over winter rather those in the ground.

It's important to keep the divisions or cutting continually moist whilst they establish, and they should be spaced at least a meter apart to allow for the spread of the roots and future growth.

It can take a couple of years for new plants to fully establish and, during this time, it's important to keep them sufficiently watered.

Pruning

As with any bamboo type, you should remove any stems that are performing poorly, have died or are damaged. The foliage on golden bamboo starts lower down the cane than on many bamboo varieties. If you want to show off the tortoiseshell pattern to its best effect, you'll want to cut off any branches and foliage closer to the base.

If you want to limit the spread of established golden bamboo, or you want to try to eradicate it, this could take some perseverance.

Cutting back or mowing all the canes right to the ground regularly during the growth period will be required. This will help to kill off the underground rhizomes.

It can take several seasons, and sometimes treatment with herbicides as well, for your efforts to pay off.

Growing in Containers

If you don't need Golden Bamboo to act as a privacy screen, but instead just like it for ornamental interest, then growing it in suitable containers would be the best option.

This method will prevent it from spreading aggressively, and the plant won't grow ridiculously tall either.

The container should be at least 12 inches wide and a similar depth too. Select a loose, moisture-retaining potting mix. Make sure it's well watered and that the mix isn't allowed to dry out during the growing season.

Container grown golden bamboo will appreciate being fed with a balanced liquid fertilizer around once a month as well.