Running and clumping bamboo

Runners and clumpers. I get a lot of email asking for a clumping bamboo. Here in zone 7, runners are about all we can grow. I’ve been searching for a clumper that will do well in zone 7 but haven’t had any luck so far. I’ve got a couple that have barely survived, but that’s about it. A grove of giant running bamboo can be amazing. The canes are spread out and you can walk thru the grove, much like walking thru a forest of small trees. Some species can get 5, 6, perhaps even 7 inches in diameter, and 70 to 80 feet tall. I have dozens of groves of running bamboo and the giants are my favorite. I keep the groves clean, cutting out dead and smaller canes. to give the grove a groomed look.
Clumping bamboos are very different. They grow in tight “clumps” with canes very close together. A 20 year old grove of running bamboo may cover an acre or more while a grove of clumping bamboo the same age may be only 25 to 50 feet in diameter. With canes squeezed together it’s impossible to walk thru a giant clumping grove. But these bamboos have their own special beauty. We’ve seen groves of giant clumping bamboo in Florida and California that were just amazing. When it comes to size, runners just can’t compare. I’ve measured canes in Quail Botanical Gardens (near San Diego) that were almost 10 inches in diameter.The groves were very clean with few dead canes. I climbed up into the grove and wedged myself between these giant canes. It was quite an experience. When you stand back and look at the grove it has the look of a single giant plant (which it is). It can be an awe inspiring sight, some growing over a 100 feet tall. We saw another grove of “Black” bamboo at Quail that had canes averaging 4 to 5 inches in diameter. These canes were so close together that you could not slide your hand into the grove. In a perfect world I’d be able to grow runners and clumpers. I’ve yet to see a bamboo I didn’t like! Of course I feel that way about most any plant.