Pleioblastus pygmaeus
Common Name: dwarf fern-leaf bamboo 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Unknown in wild
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Rarely flowers
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: High
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Heavy Shade, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Tolerates wide range of soil conditions. Very invasive. If left undisturbed, can form large colonies or patches. Fertilizing this plant may be tantamount to throwing gasoline on a fire. If planted in an area where unlimited spread is not acceptable, underground barriers should be employed to control outward growth. Evergreen in warm southern climates. Shows green foliage color in mild St. Louis winters, but turns brown and may die to the ground in harsh winters. Remove dead culms (stems) in spring after new growth begins. Can be mowed to the ground every 2-3 years to restore vitality in the event plants become too scraggly. Space starter plants 12-24" apart.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pleioblastus pygmaeus, commonly called pygmy bamboo, is classified as a dwarf running bamboo in that rhizomes from the parent plant spread rampantly in all directions from the plant forming an underground network from which new shoots periodically appear. Typically grows only 12-18" tall. Features slender, erect, pencil-sized (1/8" diameter), green culms which are divided into segments by distinctive, purplish nodes. Bright green, palm-shaped leaves (to 5" long) with serrated margins. Plants infrequently flower. Sometimes sold as Sasa pygmaea or Arundinaria pygmaea.

Genus name comes from the Greek words pleios meaning more and blastos meaning bud with reference to the several buds, later shoots at each node.

Specific epithet means small or dwarf.


No serious insect or disease problems. Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale are sometimes observed.


Excellent ground cover for areas where invasive spread is either desirable or acceptable or where appropriate barriers have been installed. A good plant for erosion control on slopes and banks. Leave undisturbed to roam in woodland gardens.