Part of the popular Phyllostachys family of bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra is the only naturally-growing bamboo to feature elegant jet-black canes. Like the rest of the Phyllostachys family, it is a hardy, durable and easy-growing bamboo, notable for its grooved canes and leafy branches presenting at each node. Though mature plants generally grow to a height of around 3 meters, ideal soil and weather conditions can see Phyllostachys nigra reach as high as 5 meters. This black bamboo makes a stunning and distinctive addition to any garden and is a great choice for beginners.
Origins and Appearance
Though cultivated all over the world today, Phyllostachys nigra is native only to China’s Hunan Province. Along with Phyllostachys auras, this extraordinary black bamboo gained the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
A tall, arching bamboo of unique beauty and charm, P. nigra boasts bold green canes that slowly transform to a richly-dark brown and ultimately black upon reaching maturity – usually around three years. Slender canes with elegant dark green leaves add a touch of poise and sophistication to modern minimalist gardens, while serving as eye-catching specimen or feature plants in others. Both up-close and from a distance, no bamboo has the same enigmatic visual presence as Phyllostachys nigra.
Phyllostachys nigra is wonderfully easy to grow and offers a stunning visual contrast with both green and brown varieties of bamboo alike. Used to intersperse hedging or fencing of a single colour for example, the effect is quite remarkable. The Phyllostachys family is somewhat prolific in terms of growth and spread, though can be controlled and managed with ease. It is perhaps the easiest of all running bamboo varieties to grow and demands minimal input for maximum rewards.
Soil should be fertile, humus-rich and kept generously moist, though with comprehensive drainage provided. This family of bamboo is best suited to sunny outdoor areas or those in partial shade, protected from dry, cold and particularly strong winds. Hard pruning is recommended after flowering, while stems that appear damaged, weak, spindly or dead should be removed in the spring.
Though considered an invasive species in the US, Phyllostachys nigra is easy to control by providing ideal soil conditions and taking simple precautions. It is also immune to most diseases, though can be severely damaged by slugs and snails during initial propagation.
At a glance:
- Position in Garden – Full Sun or Partial Shade
- Soil Condition – Fertile, Humus-Rich, Moist with Adequate Drainage
- Growth Rate – Average
- Leaves – Bright Green
- Canes – Green to Black
- Hardiness – Very hardy
- Maximum Height – Up to 5 Meters
- Skill Level – Easy