Phyllostachys Species, Black Bamboo, Slender Bamboo, Wanghee Cane

Phyllostachys nigra

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Phyllostachys (fy-lo-STAK-iss) (Info)
Species: nigra (NY-gruh) (Info)
Synonym:Bambusa nigra
Synonym:Phyllostachys puberula var. nigra


Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:



20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Phenix City, Alabama

CARLOTTA, California

Fullerton, California

Granite Bay, California

San Francisco, California

San Leandro, California

Santa Barbara, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Torrance, California

Venice, California

Littleton, Colorado

Brooksville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Marietta, Georgia

Chicago, Illinois

Murphysboro, Illinois

Prospect, Kentucky

Brookeville, Maryland

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Cincinnati, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Lawton, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon(7 reports)

Tangent, Oregon

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Monessen, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Conway, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Swansea, South Carolina

Collinwood, Tennessee

Sweetwater, Tennessee

Aransas Pass, Texas

Austin, Texas

Dallas, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Houston, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Spring, Texas

Glen Allen, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Issaquah, Washington

Langley, Washington

Seattle, Washington

White Center, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 20, 2021, ElPaso_guy from El Paso, TX wrote:

Grows in the high desert here in El Paso TX. Bought a 3gal in the mail from Wilson Bros about 2.5 years ago. I picked this species as a privacy screen. I live in a HOA and my neighbors houses are 8' away from mine. Soil here is caliche (sand/rock/silt) hard as nails dry. dug out 2ft of caliche and mixed 3 parts garden soil (9 cu ft) to 1 part caliche to make a clayish soil that drains and built a raised bed.

1st year it really climatizes and "not much growth" 5' canes
2nd year - runners a few feet away from original with 6-8 new canes only a foot taller than original plant. "walking"
3rd year 5 ft away from original 14' canes. (running)

El Paso is very dry climate and it is doing well here. Hot dry summers and weeks in winter below freezing at... read more


On May 5, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The ebony stems make this species outstandingly beautiful.

The Arnold Arboretum (Boston Z6a) has a clump of P. nigra 'Henon' that's 25 years old and one of P. nigra 'Hale' that's 35 years old. Both are in wind-sheltered spots but receive no winter protection.

I've also observed a planting (probably of 'Hale') in Cambridge MA Z6a that's sheltered between two houses and has been happy for over 20 years. It too receives no winter protection.


On May 5, 2015, Jwhdrk1 from Norcross, GA wrote:

Has anyone had success growing this cultivar from seed? I tried "moso" and it germinated pretty fast (3 weeks). Thought I'd try "nigra" if I can get advice from someone who's tried it....


On Jul 2, 2014, thequietearth from Hemby Bridge, NC wrote:

I've been growing this bamboo for 20 years now. It is a good grower but does not take over like some bamboos . It probably puts out about
10% of its size in new growth per year. My grove is about 60' x 25' in
20 years in zone 8a. Easy to control just break off unwanted shoots as they emerge in spring and the never come back.


On Mar 13, 2011, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

I did my homework on this plant before buying it because I specifically wanted a clumping black bamboo. While the tag on this plant said it was a clumper, it has a tendency to spread if allowed to do so. However, if one watches closely, and uses a couple of techniques to manage the clump, they can be restrained. I've been stomping 3-6 inch tall culms for the past three years as well as trimming back the canes on the outskirts to shape the display. Both techniques are working quite well.


On Mar 18, 2009, kTalia from Littleton, CO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I started this plant in the fall of 2007 after getting a great deal at the fall clearance sells (75% off Whoot!). Anyway, I was very skeptical about its survival in Z5a but I fell in love with it and wanted to give it a shot. I placed it in a retaining wall bed outside my living room window for a nice view. The leaves and canes actually stayed green all that winter, but it was a pretty mild winter. The following spring I only got about 3-4 new small canes. Then this last winter was very dry and very cold. It was below 10F for more than 2 weeks at one point and I was sure it had choked as all the canes died back and lost their leaves. However, after several weeks of nice warm weather and a good soaking, I found at least 6 new shoots starting. Oh, and I found 3 roots that had surfaced and go... read more


On Jan 14, 2009, blkhand from Prospect, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have grown this plant for over 11 years in Louisville Ky. Many Phyllostachys are very undemanding and can be a great accent plants. However... the runners of Nigra plants can travel under the surface for up to eight feet before coming up with multiple large canes. I love these plants, but barriers are a good idea. Pruning does dull felco pruners fairly quickly (not unlike to boxwood and dogwood trees).
Great container plants!


On Aug 19, 2007, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Interesting bamboo with shoots that start out green, then age to a nice, dark ebony black with age. It is a runner (not a clumper) but hasn't been a problem in my garden. The shoots that volunteered about six feet from the original plant in a more shady location are actually taller and seem healthier than those that are growing in mostly sun where I situated the parent plant. This bamboo seems to be one that is sought after (costing as much as $150 from some catalogs!), but the volunteer plants from runners are generally easy to dig and pot up for trade or sell.



On Nov 12, 2005, MitchF from Lindsay, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

good grower here


On Jul 17, 2004, aviator8188 from Murphysboro, IL (Zone 7a) wrote:

Spreads like a California wildfire here in extreme southern Illinois(USDA zone 7a). There are many area's throughout this region, where Phyllostchys nigra can be seen. The bamboo of course remains green year around! Also adds a tropical look to any home or business.


On Jun 22, 2004, Ferdinand from peterborough,
United Kingdom wrote:

Growing Black Bamboo also in a pot in the UK, I have been feeding phostrogen weekly and have seen lately curns from nothing to 8 feet in 6 weeks, and not a big pot iether! Should I continue to feed or let it take a breather.


On Jun 20, 2004, keithar from Leighton Buzzard,
United Kingdom wrote:

Good plant for pots and seems to tolerate growing in an area with more shade than sun . Growing in a pot means more care must be taken to avoid the plant drying out , however living in England ( UK) its not always a big concern ! No real experience of very cold weather so haven't tested hardiness .
Great plant to view .


On Jun 18, 2004, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I don't know much about it but I know it grows in zone 7 Maryland and Washington D.C.

The National Zoo in DC has this bamboo growing in sections all over the grounds, particularily close to the Giant Panda exhibit. It's very attractive and lends the area an lush exotic look.

I've also observed plantings of black bamboo growing at the side of the road alongside the woodsline and in ditches in my hometown. They come back every year and look great and don't seem to be invasive here because they only fill out the area in which they grow and don't spread.


On Apr 15, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

A lovely plant and a good addition to any garden.
I have a little problem w/ the zone restrictions though.

I'm in Zone 6, have had it out for two Winters now and it's doing fine.
Some winter die-back for sure but still thriving.
June 2009

We're 7 years in now w/ this lovely plant.
No winter protection.
There is a large stand of 'Yellow Groove' to it's west side and a solid barrier wood fence on the north and east.
We did get some breakage during a massive wind storm.
Digging up some now to containerize for the patio.
Heights about 18'. Cane max size 1.25" at the base.


On Mar 27, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I will repeat that note about not liking the wind... our culms would start growing laterally if the wind came up before a green culm started to turn black (once black they seem to have more stability- better root stock?). Once the culm got larger, this was less of a problem. Great bamboo for pots, too, by the way. Without a rhizome barrier, sometimes this would end up 15' or more from the clump... fortunately at edge of yard and neighbor likes the plant. This is one of the more agressive running bamboos, though its smaller diameter makes the shoots easier to stomp down and keep under control... but it is definitely a risky and very invasive species.


On Oct 20, 2002, dovey from Columbus, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Beautiful, unique and easy to grow.
Likes good drainage, Water well, (every other day, daily in hotter zones) and mulch heavily. Let it dry out a little bit between watering.
Mulch and compost every year.
It does not like wind, we transplanted a very tall patch of it and had to stake it securely for a couple of months until it settled in.