Hi All, sorry for the delay. We've been busy with the nursery grand opening. Wow, quite a bit of action on this post recently! OK here are answers:
@Cortland - Probably many of the Phyllostachys will be good for what you're wanting to do. I'm going to be putting up some descriptions on my website soon, but right now I don't have much. A few considerations:
-Almost all Phyllostachys species will prefer full sun, and will spread to areas (all things being equal) with more sun. Most can do okay in the understory, but it really depends on how dense the shade is. If it's very shady, growth will be slow and for some varieties (particularly many of the yellow-colored ones) may be to dark for them to grow. Black bamboo probably does best in the shady areas, but it's not one of the fastest growing ones.
-Keep in mind that almost all the Phyllostachys varieties will provide good screening in the first 10 years, but as the larger timber varieties start achieving mature size (up to 70') then often their leaves go up with them so the screen in the bottom 20' may disappear over time. Sometimes this is fine, depending on the angle of sight.
-Bamboo is such a versatile plant, you'll want to try to take advantage of the poles, shoots, or both. I've just added a brief guide here: http://www.brightsidebamboo.com/nursery.html
Scroll down to "use guide." Yellow groove (P. aureosculcata) is probabably the fastest growing and spreading one, but it's poles are very inferior so if you think you'll make use of them I'd go with something else. If you want a midsize variety both P. decora and P. meyeri are a nice, mid-size (30'-35'), green variety that do well in this part of the country. If you want to go bigger, I really like P. dulcis for excellent edible shoots and wood quality. P. vivax is my favorite overall for shoots and is the largest bamboo in this part of the country, but does have thin walls so the poles are good for crafts but not construction. P. nigra 'Henon' is also a good all-around timber species. P. aurea, Pseudosasa japonica, P. bissetii, and P. rubromarginata are often the best for screening, depending on your height and angle needs.
-It's okay to mix several varieties. I particularly like planting both short and tall varieties for contrast and practical screening.
-In terms of keeping bamboo in check, if you have some acreage and can afford to keep a buffer zone, I always tell people eating your bamboo is the best way to control it. Just eat all the shoots that come up past a certain line. It can only spread underground from it's photosynthesis base about as tall as it is.
-Of course, I do offer in-person or phone/internet consulting as well for details and specifics.
-I know the people over at Bamboo Garden in OR - a great group with good information. I'm probably their top customer for the rhizome barrier. Some of their info on specific species is particular to the Pacific NW and varies a bit here in the Southeast. The same bamboo tends to get a little bigger here.
-There are a few types of clumping bamboo, so it depends on what you're talking about. In OH they're probably talking about Fargesias which do like summer shade. In zone 8+ (and maybe 7b) you can do Bambusas which like full sun with winter protection if you're in lower range zone-wise.
@Clifford - thanks!
@Xisca - Your'e welcome! Dendrocalamus is a tropical genus - many of which produce seeds much more frequently than the temperate varieties, which don't flower but every 80 years or so, on average. It varies widely from 20 years to 200 years.
@John - I can attest the Savannah site is a great place and the old hq of the old USDA bamboo program that ran from the 1890s to 1970s.
I hope this helps!