If you want to create a dense hedge to block out a neighbour, it’s hard to go past the variegated Malay Dwarf bamboo. Note that not all Bambusa heterostachya are variegated. You need to select the specific cultivar (cv) ‘variegated’, if you want this appearance. Don’t get me wrong here… the non-variegated cultivar is also an excellent ‘hedger’ with an attractive foliage colour but, for my money, I’ll take the variegated variety every time 🙂
When selecting a hedging bamboo, density of foliage is also an important consideration. You’re planting a hedge for a reason and it is probably not so that you can see through it! In that regard, the Malay Dwarf variety – whether variegated or not – is hard to beat. The foliage is both dense and long-lasting.
Care and maintenance
Most bamboos are seriously tough and Malay Dwarf is no exception. It will grow in most soils, even heavy clays and loose sands but be aware of moisture requirements. No bamboo likes ‘wet feet’ but nor do they enjoy being ‘hung out to dry’. That means less watering in heavy soils and more on highly porous soils.
I treat my bamboos kindly for the first two years with regular watering and fertilizing but then they are abandoned. Once established, most varieties really are tough and can cope with extended dry periods as well as flooding rains.
Don’t burn or compost those fallen leaves!
Bamboo foliage is very high in silica and, surprise, surprise, bamboos need silica to look their best. Therefore don’t rake up the dropped leaves and burn them or add them to your compost bin. Pile them at the bottom of your bamboo. It will love you for it!
And that brings me to mulch. Lots! And lots more. Mulching is critical if you live in a cold climate. Pile it up to protect those roots in winter! But it is just as important to mulch to prevent your bamboo from drying out in long hot summers. Spell it with me… M-U-L-C-H!
Bambusa heterostachya cv. Variegated (Malay Dwarf)
A beautiful dense ornamental with cream striped leaves. One of the best hedging bamboos due to dense, uniform foliage.
Typical height: 3 to 4m
Typical culm diameter: 2cm
Minimum temperature tolerance: -2°C
Climate: Can tolerant light frost – Grows best in Tropical and Subtropical climates
Light conditions: Full sun to part shade
Growth habit: Tight clumping, very bushy, dense
Growing conditions: Moist, well drained soil. Keep well mulched.
Country of Origin: Malaysia
Will it grow in a pot?
Like all bamboo, quite happily. But it will be a dwarf dwarf, probably never exceeding 2 metres in height. And remember that plants in pots – any plants – need regular fertilizing and frequent watering! Also keep in mind that while unglazed terracotta pots always look great, they take up water from the soil and give it up in evaporation. That probably means daily watering through the warmer months.
Want to know more about the Malay Dwarf variety?
Here’s a video we put together just for you!