Pogonatherum paniceum: Dwarf bamboo

Family: Poaceae
Common name: Dwarf bamboo, Baby panda grass, Baby bamboo, Baby panda plant, Pygmy bamboo, Miniature bamboo, Mini bamboo

Dwarf bamboo plants are commonly seen in gardens along borders, hedges, rock gardens, and water bodies. They do look like miniature bamboo plants with their green hollow stems and bright green leaves, roughly the same shape as bamboo leaves.

This sturdy grass can grow to a height of 1-1.5 meters with reedy stems forming thick clumps, which start drooping after a while. The leaves are about 6-8 cms long with a sharp pointy tip, and without any stalk connecting them to the stem.

When planted in pots, these plants fall around the sides like thick, green brooms. They are water-loving, requiring frequent watering and misting to keep them healthy.

Though inconspicuous, Dwarf bamboo plants produce small spikelets of flowers on long racemes. The name Pogoantherum comes from the terms ‘pogon’ which means beard and ‘ather’ which means flowers, because of the plant’s beard-like appearance.

It is a good idea to keep the Dwarf bamboo plant pots on shallow vessels filled with water and pebbles so that the soil never dries out completely. In summer, the leaves will start drying and curling and then turns brown if it does not have enough water.

Dwarf bamboo plants prefer good sunlight, but they can do well with filtered, indirect sunlight. So they can be planted around large trees, where they can grow around the stem in thick clumps. If the stems become too long and unruly, they can be trimmed down almost to the roots, from where they can grow back in thick, bright green clumps.

Dwarf bamboo plants grow fast and will need repotting once a year if planted in pots. If planted on the ground, it would be good to prune them well to maintain desired shapes. These plants also do well as hydroponic plants, grown without soil. These plants are not toxic to pets; in fact, pets prefer eating the tender shoots at the very tip of the stem.

Since Dwarf bamboo plants grow quickly, they need regular fertilization and maintenance. Inadequate fertilization can lead to slow growth and yellowing of leaves. Ideal fertilizer is one rich in nitrogen and potassium. They are generally resistant to pests, but spider mites and fungus could affect the plants.

Propagation is by root division, or by pulling out small plants from the clump and replanting them.