GARDENING

Just one bamboo plant can make a big impact in landscape


Published: Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.

Q: Are bamboos appropriate to use in my landscape? I have a large yard and would like a bamboo, but I don't want it to take over.

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Stripe Stem bamboo would be good to use for a privacy barrier or as an accent plant. (Courtesy of Wendy Wilber)

A: Bamboo is a beautiful plant that can bring a lot of interest to your landscape. To ensure that it doesn't take over, select a clumping bamboo instead of a running bamboo. Running bamboo can spread rapidly and come up where you may not want it. Clumping bamboos, however, stay in one spot and expand out from the margin of the clump.

Those clumps will get quite large, so put it where it can have the room to expand, and enough room to enjoy the view of the clump as well. There are quite a few clumping bamboos that grow well in North Central Florida. One of my favorites is the Stripe Stem bamboo, Alphonse Karr. It has yellow canes with green pinstripes and grows to 25 feet tall. The Stripe Stem would be good to use for a privacy barrier or as an accent plant.

Another favorite that gets very tall is the Wong Chuk. This cultivar reaches 40 feet in height and the 3-inch-wide canes are a dark green. Fern Leaf bamboo is another clumping type that will bring texture and movement into your landscape. Its leaves are soft and frilly. The Fern Leaf only reaches 20 feet, making it an excellent bamboo for a smaller space.

With careful selection and proper placement in your landscape, you can use bamboo in your yard. You may only need one plant to make a big impact in your landscape design. Avoid the running bamboos to make sure they won't take over. For more information about bamboos, visit the UF/IFAS Extension website www.solutionsforyourlife.com, and check out the bamboo collection at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville.

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Q: I have heard you can grow a fruit called a limequat here. Is it really cold-hardy? Does it taste like a lime?

A: Limequat is a fantastic citrus to grow in North Central Florida. They are much more cold-hardy than a Key Lime or a Persian Lime, and their flavor is almost exactly the same.

As a hybrid of a Mexican lime and a kumquat, they are attractive and nearly thornless. Limequats grow perfectly in a container on a deck or a patio, but they also can be included in your landscape. They are attractive trees that will grow to 10 to 15 feet tall and produce fruit on and off all year with proper fertilization and watering. When you are shopping for a limequat, you might encounter two to three different cultivars. The Lakeland and Eustis limequats are round and 1 inches in diameter; their mature fruit will have a slightly pale greenish-yellow skin. The Tavares limequat is more oblong in shape and can have an orange-yellow skin. Place your limequat tree in plenty of sunlight and water it at least once a week. Since the limequat is cold-hardy, you only will need to protect it when the temperatures dip into the 20s. The appropriate time to plant a limequat is in the spring. This will give the tree plenty of time to get established before it goes through its first winter. If you have questions about fruit trees or any plants, give the UF/IFAS Alachua County Master Gardeners a call at 955-2402.

Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at wlwilber@ifas.ufl.edu.

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