Phyllostachys nigra

black bamboo
Running bamboo with black culms can reach 20ft in the ground, shorter in pots. Avoid windy and hottest positions. Confine in ground to avoid aggressive spreading rhizomes.
height 12–20ft
width 20–30ft
tolerates Cold, Moist Soil, Pots
Bamboo adds a lush look to any garden and will need regular irrigation to look its vibrant best. These plants are tough; once established, they usually will not die without irrigation, but they might start to look droopy and dry. Regular watering will give them their signature lushness!
exposure Full Sun – Part Shade
drainage In Ground: Planting Mix, In Pots: Potting Soil, Tolerates Heavy Soil, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose
origin EC China
4–10, 14–H2

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Running bamboos are a great option for open spaces where a grove is your objective. They spread quickly, filling out evenly in all directions. This can also be useful with raised beds, or in ground beds fully contained by concrete in all directions. This type of bamboo can even push up through asphalt. Running bamboo can be contained by a bamboo barrier, usually a plastic liner that goes at least three feet into the ground; eventually runners can escape, though, so keep your eye on them. You can also keep running bamboo in check by restricting irrigation to the area where you want it to grow; it won’t spread into completely dry soil. It will, however, gallop into summer-moist soil areas.
Remember that Bamboo is a grass, and that will help you understand how to care for it, from watering to pruning and fertilizing. It likes food and water in order to look vibrant and appreciates nitrogen. Fertilize during the growing season from March through October. A yearly addition of compost and mulch in the fall is a great way to keep your bamboo looking lush and clean.
Bamboo looks best when the old shoots are thinned out annually; this also invigorates the bamboo and encourages it to send out new growth. You can also prune up the ‘branches’ to expose the canes, or prune the tips of those branches and thin them to get a staggered bonsai effect. You can also top bamboo if it gets too tall, or if you would like to have it look more formal like a hedge. However, some people feel this ruins the natural plume silhouette.
Bamboo sheds leaves constantly, and it’s recommended not to remove this leaf matter if possible, as it builds up a nice layer of compost to feed the soil and keep in water. Keep this shedding in mind when underplanting with small plants (they might get buried) or when bamboo is placed near pools, patios, roof drains, etc.

Special Interest

When bamboo blooms in cultivation it is synchronized among plants of the same type worldwide over a couple of years. The reason for this is still a bit of a mystery, but it likely has to do with the plant’s production through division, which essentially means that the worldwide population is one cloned plant. After bamboo blooms it becomes ragged or dies completely, needing to be replaced. Luckily blooming bamboo are exceedingly rare.

Many bamboos, like this one, are edible. If you’d like to taste some succulent bamboo shoots, choose an edible variety and blanch them. You can do this by covering emerging shoots in a thick layer of mulch. Once they poke through the mulch, dig back to ground level and cut the bamboo there. You can also fill a bucket with mulch and cut a hole in the bottom. Guide the bamboo shoot through the hole as it emerges from the soil and cut it off below the bucket when it emerges from the top of the mulch.