Hibanobambusa tranquillans "Shiroshima," commonly known as Shiroshima bamboo, is a lovely plant that grows to about 10 feet tall, but can attain 16 feet under ideal conditions. It is noted for its variegated leaves, striped with white or cream. In sunny situations, the leaves will develop streaks of red and purple.
Shiroshima bamboo is a versatile plant and can be grown indoors or out. It will prefers some shade, and it can tolerate deep shade. It is hardy to 0 degrees F, and the plant tolerates pruning well. The young shoots are edible. The evergreen Shiroshima makes a fine privacy hedge. Its colorful leaves are striking in all seasons, and especially welcome in winter. Like all bamboo, Shiroshima prefers slightly acidic soil but will tolerate any soil as long as it is well drained. Once established, it is drought tolerant.
Bamboos are classified as either running or clumping types. Clumping types remain where they are planted,but running types can be invasive, putting out runners many feet from the planting site. Shiroshima bamboo is a running type. When planted in warmer climates, it can take over the garden. In order to contain the bamboo, bury a barrier at least 12 inches deep in a diameter 24 to 30 inches around the plant. Once established, runners are difficult to eradicate.
Shiroshima bamboo can be grown successfully in containers, making it a striking addition to an indoor room or a patio. Plant the bamboo in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Choose a container with at least 2 inches between the root ball and the sides of the pot, and one that is wider than it is tall. When the plant becomes potbound, remove it from the container and cut off about one third of the root ball. Place it back in the same pot with fresh potting soil. Thin out the culms (stems) by one third to balance the top with the roots. If the plant is getting too tall, the top can safely be pruned without damaging the plant.
Bamboos are classified as grasses and will need a fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Do not fertilize them with flowering-plant fertilizers. But for young plants, use a more balanced fertilizer about two weeks after planting to promote stronger root growth.
When first planted, Shiroshima bamboo should be watered deeply once or twice a week. Once established, bamboos are drought tolerant and a good addition for xeriscape landscaping. Bamboos will tell you when they need water because their leaves will begin to curl up. Water directly into the culms (stalks) and then lightly on the top of the soil. Too much water will cause the bamboo's roots to rot.
Pests and Diseases
Bamboo is generally easy to care for, but an occasional infestation may be expected. Bamboo mites have been found in the Pacific northwest. Leaf damage that looks like stippling may be spider mites; look closely at leaves to see if there is any webbing. Other pests include spider mites, mealybugs and scale. Use insecticidal soap to control these pests.