Bambusa ventricosa

Not so cold hardy addition – Buddha’s Belly

Branches are showing some swelling and zig-zag growth.

Branches are showing some swelling and zigzag growth.

Basic information:
Height: up to 15 m
Culm diameter: 5 cm
Hardiness: -6 °C
Characteristics: cold sensitive, vigorous, clumping bamboo,
forms swollen internodes when kept in containers or in dry

Bambusa ventricosa is one of the bamboos that can easily be grown inside. It can handle low light levels better than most, doesn’t need dormancy, tolerates drought and can even forgive a bit of overwatering. The first time I bought the bamboo from a Chinese vendor, it arrived completely dry after more than a month. Since I never received a replacement – or at least a reply when I contacted him, I picked another seller and ordered B. ventricosa again. This time, it arrived with a couple of buds already elongated, despite the fact that it got completely dried out during transport. I planted it, and hoped that there are at least some roots that survived. Because it’s roots looked dry, I buried the lower branch buds that were already actively growing into the soil. Even if the roots were damaged, that way, I could promote root growth formation.

It started growing without any issues and I in fact noticed root growth under soil level, as I hoped and expected. When branches leafed out, first shoot emerged too, which proved that the plant wasn’t damaged during transport at all and it managed to put out quite large shoot.

Despite trying my best, Buddha’s Belly hardly showed any bulging. It did grow a zig-zag culm, but there was no or only minimal swelling of internodes. Bamboo tolerates full sun well, so I left it outside until early fall, when it got colder. When I moved it inside, it started to look ratty. Leaves got damaged and there was almost no leaf left without brown dried-out tip. New leaves were normal, and appeared even darker green in the end of the winter, but when I placed it outside in the spring again, bamboo started to decline once again. Leaves and even shoots started to show the same kind of damage as when I took it in for the winter. In a couple of weeks, it accepted it’s new location and looked perfectly happy again, but with a lot of brown leaves that were again soon replaced with hundreds of new small branches and fresh set of leaves. Even the damaged-looking shoots continued their growth and seemed perfectly happy – yet without any swelling.

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