The fast-growing bamboo (Bambusa spp.) plant is an ideal choice if you want to quickly create a border or screen. Part of the grass family, most bamboo varieties grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 11. Bamboo is available in running and clumping varieties. Running varieties grow an average of 3 to 5 feet taller in a year.
Many bamboo varieties have shallow root growth with a maximum depth of 20 to 24 inches on large tree-like plants. Running varieties spread through root rhizomes which are close to the soil surface. Clumping varieties form shallow root masses that stay in a clump.
Running bamboo varieties grow more quickly than clumping plants, with an average growth in height of 3 to 5 feet per year. Clumping varieties grow on average 1 to 3 feet taller per year. The timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) grows an amazing 2 to 3 feet a day until it reaches 45 feet or higher.
Clumping bamboo spreads very slowly and is considered non-invasive. This makes it an ideal variety for home gardens. Running bamboo generally spreads 3 to 5 feet per year, but some varieties can spread up to 15 feet per year.
Running bamboo varieties spread quickly and are considered invasive in some areas. Prevent overgrowth and spreading by installing root barriers around the plants. Examples of root barriers include planting the bamboo in a large pot submerged into the soil or installing polyethylene sheets around the planting area to prevent root penetration.