This is at least the 4th incarnation of my Needmore Bamboo website and this one is a work in progress. As one might discern from the name of this website I am a big fan of and admittedly a bamboo addict, however as time progresses my intent is to add images of many non-bamboos as I work on developing my acre of solid lava (I have no soil, can not dig a single hole, and must plant in mounds) into what I hope becomes a beautiful relaxing oasis of tropical plants. I live in the Puna district of the Big Island, just south of Hilo where annual rainfall will exceed 100 inches. In terms of cold, the winter of 2021 I saw 2 nights of 54F as my low temp with a few other nights in the 55F-58F range. My place is in what locals refer to as the ‘blue hole’ as my immediate area gets less rain than surrounding areas – I can be hot and sunny, drive 2 blocks and encounter standing water on the road. I am about 9 blocks from the ocean at around 90′ in elevation. I think that I must be in a cold sink as a little bit higher up it seems the nights are less chilly, and we seemed to run a few degrees lower than Hilo.
My initial context with growing bamboo was in southern Indiana (a place not very hospitable to bamboo) beginning in 2002 and lasting until 2015. My strategy was to try to find the hardiest species that could tolerate annual subzero temperatures and the focus of my first website was to offer a website that shared that experience with other climate zone 5b/6 gardeners. In the summer of 2015 I moved to northern California where I took many of my Indiana bamboo but I also began to experiment with the sub-tropical clumping forms of bamboo. My winter lows in zone 9b CA rarely dipped below 27F so all of the running forms of bamboo did fine but I was again pushing the hardiness envelope with the sub-tropical forms. As I look back at my time in CA I recognize that it was a unique climate one that offered enough winter chill hours to make the Phyllostachys happy but not so much cold that I could not also grow many Bambusa species and a couple of Dendrocalamus.
But alas I was not rooted in CA and in the summer of 2020 I moved to Hawai’i. This is the 3rd and hopefully final time that I’ve moved to the islands, the first 2 moves were both to the island of O’ahu where I never owned property but this time I am on the Big Island and I have an acre to play with. So now I get to focus on the sub-tropical and tropical clumping forms but the running bamboo do not get enough chill hours here to be much to look at – kind of full circle, in Indiana the severe cold can cut back a species and keep it much smaller than it would be in a less harsh climate but now in Hawai’i those same bamboo will be small due to the lack of any cold!
So as I work on updating this website, I will try to have photos and bits of info covering a broad range of bamboo that I have grown, along with sharing my experience of taking a jungle lot, stripping it bare, and giving it a major makeover.