Gardening Q&A: How do I choose the right bamboo plants?

The experts at the RHS answer your gardening questions...
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Question: I would like to buy a pair of tall bamboo plants for my outside L-shaped balcony to put at the end of the balcony in pots, to act as a subtle type of privacy. They don't have to be dense, but I do like the idea of bamboo leaves softly blowing in the breeze. There are quite a lot of different types online. Can you give me some advice on which to buy, please?

Answer: As long as your balcony is sheltered from wind, bamboo would be a good choice. The plant must never dry out, even in winter, and it will need repotting or splitting every other year. Once you have potted it on into the biggest pot you can manage, root pruning in subsequent years will mean you can just put it back in the same pot, with fresh compost. I would use a John Innes No 3 compost with controlled release fertiliser pellets mixed with it. Phyllostachys nigra has wonderful black stems and my favourite for good dense cover is Fargeisa nitida, which can reach 3m - a baby in bamboo terms.

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