All species of bamboo are typically fast growers, with many increasing in height up to 2 feet a day until they reach their mature height about two months later. Growing conditions influence bamboo's growth rate, but hardy species have been introduced to many climate zones: bamboo is grown as far north as Seattle, Wash., and similar environments.
The bamboo species called Phyllostahcys Moso is the largest of all bamboos. It can grow to a height of 10 feet in a little more than three weeks. This bamboo also grows thicker as it grows taller; at 10 feet, the Moso can measure more than 5 inches near its base. Moso bamboo is classified as a timber bamboo and is often used in China and other countries for food, plywood, paper, flooring and furniture.
This giant specimen timber bamboo grows quickly to 45 feet with a diameter of 5 inches. Known in the botanical world as Phyllostachys vivax, it is attractive, with green stripes on its yellow canes. Hardy to temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees F, the Greenstripe bamboo also has large leaves, making it suitable for growing as a hedge. It is relatively rare.
Also called fishing pole bamboo and Phyllostachys aurea, this slender bamboo makes a good privacy screen because it forms a dense grove when it remains untrimmed. The canes are light green when they first emerge but turn gold when they receive plenty of sun. It can tolerate full sun and achieves a mature height of 35 feet in USDA hardiness zones 6 and higher. It grows more slowly in cooler climates, but is hardy to 0 degrees F. New shoots are edible.
Bambusa dolichomerithalla is a fast-growing, clumping type of bamboo, reaching an adult height of 25 feet. Silverstripe bamboo has white stripes on its leaves and sometimes on its culms, which grow to only 1 inch in diameter. Because it is hardy only down to 18 degrees F, this bamboo is recommended for USDA zones 8 and higher.