There’s a lot to love about Phyllostachys viridis ‘Robert Young’, also known as Phyllostachys viridis ‘Sulphurea’ or Golden Chinese Bamboo. It’s the sort of bamboo that satisfies a long list of requirements. Robert Young grows well in cold and temperate climates, withstanding temperatures well below freezing, and even a few ticks below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. It’s fairly fast-growing, running bamboo but doesn’t have the overly aggressive growth habit you’ll find with many other varieties of Phyllostachys. And its size and colorful stripes make this one of the most attractive species of bamboo available.

Phyllostachys viridis Robert Young golden bamboo
Elegant culms of Phyllostachys viridis ‘Robert Young’ form a beautiful grove. (Photo by Fred Hornaday)

Characteristics of ‘Robert Young’ bamboo

Reaching an impressive size of 40-50 feet in height and about 3 inches or more in diameter, most would consider this a timber bamboo species. But it doesn’t reach the same size and stature as other temperate giants like Moso, Madake, or Vivax. Furthermore, it’s must easier to grow and quicker to establish than Moso, but far less intrusive than creeping varieties like P. aurea or P. bissetii. Robert Young can stay in a large pot, but it’s far more impressive when it’s given some space to stretch out.

The most distinguishing characteristic of this remarkable bamboo is its vibrant color. Buttery yellow culms have vivid green stripes that stand out in any garden. The rich shade of yellow has earned this cultivar the alternate name of ‘Sulphurea’. Whether you’re creating a privacy hedge, planting a forest, or just looking for some contrasting colors against the other greenery of your landscape, this beautiful bamboo fits the bill.

Unlike many bamboo species, the branching is minimal until you get about 5 or 10 feet off the ground. This tends to produce a more pleasing and tidy appearance. Moreover, it leaves the culms exposed, showing off more of those stunning colors.

Robert Young Bamboo with mulch
Mature culms of Phyllostachys viridis ‘Robert Young’ grow up to 3 inches or more in diameter. (Photo by Fred Hornaday)

Varieties of Phyllostachys viridis

Robert Young, also called Sulphurea, is a cultivar of the species of Phyllostachys viridis. But the original species is less common. Lacking the striking variegation of Robrt Young, this is still a good bamboo for a many purposes, as an ornamental and for crafts.

Phyllostachys viridis var. ‘mitis’ is another subspecies to be aware of. Similar in size and growth habit, it has light green culm without strips.

Genus Phyllostachys viridis
A dense grove of Phyllostachys viridis basks in the sunshine. (Photo by Fred Hornaday)

Uses for Phyllostachys viridis

This is an excellent, beautiful bamboo variety for ornamental purposes, bring color to the garden or providing a privacy screen. Native to China, it’s especially adaptable for the temperate climates of North America and Europe. The culms aren’t huge but they have are good-sized and can be used for crafts or furniture making. Once dried, the stripes will not be visible. The shoots, like most varieties of Phylostachys, are edible and can be prepared in numerous ways.

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Learn more about the wonderful world of bamboo gardening.

FEATURE IMAGE: A delightful grove of Phyllostachys viridis ‘Robert Young’ in Portugal. Photo by Fred Hornaday.