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Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa'

Maximum height: 10 ft.
(More likely 5 ft. for us)
Maximum diameter: .5 in.
(More likely .25 in.)
Minimum temperature: -15ºF
(The roots are at least 10ºF more hardy.)

Species in this genus need to be dug as soon as the ground thaws in late winter to early spring; late March through mid April. Orders for this species need to be placed by March.


This clumping bamboo is the only truly clumping species that can handle both our cold winters and hot summers.

Fargesia is a genus of bamboos native to the Himalayas. As such, most species within the genus are not adapted to climates with hot summers. 'Rufa' is an exception.

We have trial grown multiple clones of Fargesia nitida and Fargesia murielae; two other cold hardy species in this genus.

Each and every one failed during summers here in northern Indiana. Even in full shade the leaves would curl tightly during summer midday heat.

It wasn't until we tried 'Rufa' that we had success with a Fargesia in our climate.

The leaves of 'Rufa' don't curl even in full sun here.

It's proven to be a very adaptable bamboo. We have it growing in both sun and shade. It seems to do equally well in both settings.

We're often asked for a clumping bamboo that can fulfill the role of a screen or privacy hedge here in our climate. It's not likely that 'Rufa' will ever grow tall enough here to do that. That job is better left to the larger Phyllostachys species. Unlike 'Rufa', those species do "run", but they can be contained.

While we're only into about year seven of our preferred ten year trial period for species that are new to us, we don't expect 'Rufa' to ever exceed 5 ft in height here.

Where it would be well suited would be as a mid-sized rounded shrub or as a special plant of interest near a water feature. The weepy growth habit looks great near a backyard goldfish or koi pond.

When purchasing a Fargesia it is our advice to get one larger than what you think you will need, because it's very slow growing.

It's also been our observation here at the nursery that many times the plant's root ball will shrink before growing bigger.

Many times this will be noticeable after a new Fargesia plant's first winter after being planted the previous year.

It seems quite typical for a 2 gallon Fargesia to become a 1 gallon plant or a 5 gallon Fargesia that was planted the previous year to become a 3 gallon plant by the following spring.

This seems to be only true of Fargesia. We've not encountered this initial root ball shrinkage with species of any other genera.

This is something we encountered first when obtaining our original stock plants. We have since encountered it with our own divisions propagated here at the nursery. It seems to be something common to the genus, at least in our climate.

The good news is that after this initial setback the plants do seem to bounce back in a year or two. They then get on with growing larger... be it ever so slowly.

Read more about growing clumping bamboo in the midwest United States in our blog post.

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