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Fargesia murielae (Umbrella Bamboo)

Probably the most well behaved of all bamboos. Bamboos – quite rightly – have a bit of a reputation for spreading. This one forms a tight clump of relatively small canes (never more than 1/2 inch in diameter) and very rarely strays. Not many people are old enough to remember corn stooks created by binders, standing in the fields before combine harvesters came along. A tight bundle of canes with the top flopping outwards. They look good grown on their own after a shower of rain. Delicious.

Alternatively, do what we do at the nursery and what the Japanese do – clip them into mounds. The texture of a low bamboo mound topped with a few little new shoots emerging is extremely different but can also be delicious. The wonderful thing about plants is that if you get get fed up with the second idea, it will – in time – revert to the first idea. And visa versa.

They rarely get more than 10ft tall and 8ft across but using a pair of secateurs to remove some of the canes on the outside of the clump is an easy way to keep them under control.

We call it Muriel for short. It was discovered in China in 1920 by the great plant hunter Ernest Wilson and he named this plant after his daughter – Muriel.

Thirty years ago these started flowering and dying (as bamboos sometimes do) all over the world – from Surrey to Vancouver to Wellington to Buenos Aries and the conspiracy theorists immediately started ascribing cosmic causes. No such luck. These were all propagated by division from the same plant introduced by Mr Wilson in 1920 and were therefore the same plant and were genetically programmed to flower at that time because of their age. An unusual set of circumstances that admittedly had some people scratching their heads.

Propagated by division.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.