Bamboo (Gainesville, Florida)




The bamboo garden at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens hosts the state’s largest public collection of bamboo species. When surplus is available, it is offered for sale on a ‘dug-to-order’ basis to generate income for the Gardens, a nonprofit facility. All species displayed here are cold-hardy and (except in extremely severe winters) evergreen.

Bamboo is dug fresh and not sold in pots

Bamboo will survive indefinitely in pots, but you will see little growth of the plant over long time periods. Keeping bamboo in pots stunts its growth and the canes will never achieve their maximum size. This is mainly caused by the fact that bamboo needs a lot of space and soil to send out new rhizomes and shoots, something that is not readily achieved in pots. The net effect of bamboo in pots over time can be a network of tiny fibrous roots that have grown in but no real large substantial roots needed to really allow the bamboo species to quickly take off once planted in the ground.

Bamboo from Kanapaha is dug fresh after it is ordered, directly from the parent plant. Most canes on the plant will be the maximum size diameter for the bamboo species mirrored by a large corresponding rhizome system attached. Our 15 and 20 gallon sizes are about as heavy as you can lift with no extra dirt or weight surrounding the root system. What you are really paying for with bamboo is the rhizome (root system), that is the "soul" of the plant that will send aloft new canes for years to follow.

Buying Bamboo

Bamboos likely seem expensive to those unfamiliar with their propagation. The cost is attributable to both demand and the fact that most species cannot be readily propagated from cuttings and seeds are rarely produced (once every 120 years in one species we display). Thus, propagation is accomplished by digging and chopping apart the woody rhizome system, a process akin to dismantling a subterranean network of two-by-fours. Because this sort of propagation is labor intensive, prices are higher than for nursery-grown species and almost no nurseries stock them. Please keep in mind that it is the rhizome system (“A root ball”) that you are paying for. Because we sell locally, we keep the canes attached so buyers have something to look at right away; but the “soul” of a bamboo plant is its subterranean rhizome network that will send aloft new canes each shoot season. This year we offer 18 different kinds of bamboo.

Growth Forms

There are 2 basic bamboo growth forms. Clumping bamboos grow as expanding clumps of densely packed canes, whereas running bamboos send out long underground ‘runners’ and develop thickets. Both make excellent visual screens. The spread of running bamboos can be curbed by subterranean barriers or, more simply, the removal of unwanted shoots (which are edible in many species) when they appear each spring.

Because they are tropical, clumping bamboos suffer more damage than running bamboos, when exposed to temperatures below 15 degrees F, but they are not normally killed. One species, the elegant Arrow Bamboo, has an intermediate ‘running-and clumping’ growth form that produces a grove of closely spaced small clumps. For purposes of maintenance, it should be considered a running species.

CLUMPING BAMBOOS: bamboos belonging to the genus Bambusa grow from a rhizome system that annually produces new canes at the immediate outer margin of the dense stand to produce an expanding clump. Because they spread more slowly and because they are so visually impenetrable, many homeowners prefer them for visual screening as well as visual accents in the landscape. Clumping species offered this year are: Stripestem, Hedge, Golden Goddess, Chinese Goddess, Silverstripe, Goldstripe, Wong Chuk, Puntingpole, Buddha’s
Belly Bamboo, Variegated Buddha’s Belly and Dwarf Buddha’s Belly.

RUNNING BAMBOOS , like the elegant White Bamboo, Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon,’ produce loose thickets or “bamboo forests” that can be walked through. Their rhizome systems grow in all directions and intermittently send up shoots to produce this effect. They are potentially invasive but can be limited by subterranean barriers (concrete, heavy plastic liner, etc.) two feet deep or, more simply, by annually mowing down unwanted shoots when they emerge. Running bamboos produce their annual crop of new shoots in the spring. This year’s winter bamboo sale offers the following runners: Switchcane, White Bamboo, Beautiful Bamboo, and the incomparably beautiful Black Bamboo. Arrow Bamboo, the best species for shade, is considered a “running and clumping” bamboo since its spreading rhizome system produces a grove of closely spaced clumps.

Growth Habits

For approximately 10 months annually, almost no growth occurs in the above-ground portion of the plant as it puts its energy into rhizome growth. Then, during the 2-month ‘shoot season,’ new and larger canes emerge, often with phenomenal speed (almost 2 inches per hour in one species) that makes bamboo the fastest growing of all vascular plants. Running bamboos produce their shoots in early spring; clumpers shoot in the summer. Individual canes live for an average of 5 to ten years and attain maximum strength (for construction purposes) at ‘middle age.’

Transplanting Bamboo

When transporting bamboos, it is important to keep the rhizome system moist and to prune off the upper portion of the canes (above the 4th branch-bearing node; we will provide this service when digging bamboos for sale). It is helpful to enrich the planting site with peat or composted organic matter to enhance the soil’s capacity for moisture retention. Transplanted bamboos should be watered regularly for the first 3 months to ensure successful establishment. Thereafter, regular watering and quarterly fertilization will promote vigorous growth. Arrow Bamboo prefers shade and is the best species for such sites in this area. All other species sold during our annual winter bamboo sale will tolerate some shade but grow best on sunny sites (5 or more hours of direct sunlight daily). A detailed planting and maintenance guide will be provided with each order.


Orders for bamboo may be phoned in to 352-372-4981. Buyers will be advised of the date orders will be ready for pickup and payment will be needed when orders are placed. Bamboo Sale is in January and February only. ORDERS ARE PRIORITIZED BY DATE OF RECEIPT SINCE ORDERS FOR SOME BAMBOOS MAY EXCEED AVAILABILITY.


Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau (Gainesville, FL)

Butterfly Rainforest (Gainesville, FL)

City of Gainesville Website (Gainesville, FL)

Fairchild Tropical Garden (Coral Gables, FL)

The Florida Botanical Gardens (Largo, FL)

Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, FL)

Fruit and Spice Park (Homestead, FL)

Haile Plantation Homestead (Gainesville, FL)

Harry P. Leu Gardens (Orlando, FL)

Heathcote Botanical Gardens (Ft. Pierce, FL)

Historic Bok Sanctuary (Lake Wales, FL)

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, FL)

McKee Botanical Garden (Vero Beach, FL)

Mounts Botanical Garden (West Palm Beach, FL)

Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden

Ryan Caffrey Photography (Gainesville, FL)

University of Florida Herbarium project to inventory the plants at Kanapaha Botanical Garden.

University of South Florida Botanical Garden (Tampa, FL)

alachua astronomy club

Our featured artist: Michael E. Kmiotek

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is currently featured on: Hello Gainesville, Visit Florida & North Florida Family Fun Guide and Kanapaha was also awarded best attraction in Gainesville by

Summer of the Dragon

image of director's bookFor all practical purposes, naturalists and unenlightened civilians dwell on different planets. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens director Don Goodman was born a hard-wired naturalist and shares the secrets of this unique perspective in tales of a lifetime of interactions with animals and plants… from the magical boyhood incident when two snake eggs hatched in his hand to the loss of his right arm to a horrifying attack by a giant alligator.

Thrown into the mix are laugh-out-loud stories of student misadventures, colorful eccentricities, British soldiers cooking up a batch of psychotropic greens at Jamestown and a float trip down Florida’s grand Ichetucknee River that became "the Donner Party afloat."

If you don't know bastard toadflax from devil’s dung, this is the book for you!

Read more about Summer of the Dragon



4700 S.W. 58th Drive Gainesville, FL 32608, (352) 372-4981

sgf info page