Updated Oct 13, 2022
Updated Oct 13, 2022
Wondering how to grow bamboo? Though this plant can be difficult to grow in extreme climates (it doesn’t do well in extreme heat or cold), it’s a relatively inexpensive plant that can add beauty to your garden once fully grown. Keep reading to learn about the different types of bamboo, how to grow this plant, and care tips once bamboo reaches maturity.
Bamboo is a versatile evergreen perennial that is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Before learning how to grow bamboo, familiarize yourself with two of the most common forms: clumping bamboo and running bamboo.
This type of bamboo grows in tight clusters and stays where it’s planted, rarely spreading out over large areas. We recommend clumping bamboo if you want a well-behaved bamboo that won’t spread.
Running bamboo is considered an invasive plant and spreads like crazy if not maintained properly. It propagates by sending out underground runners, called rhizomes, which send up new shoots through the soil. Rhizomes can travel more than 100 feet before sprouting.
YELLOW GROOVE BAMBOO Phyllostachys aurea
Most bamboo will reach a mature height within five or six years. Clumping bamboo will gain about one to two feet of height per year and running types gain about three to five feet per year. The height and spread rate will vary depending on the bamboo species and climate. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine which types of bamboo will thrive in your area.
If you’re starting your bamboo plants from seeds, start in early spring so that the plants have enough time to establish themselves by summer. Avoid planting bamboo in the fall: bamboo needs time to harden before faced with cold and dry winds. Sow seeds after the final frost of the season for best results. Bamboo in containers can be grown any time of the year.
The best time to propagate bamboo from existing rhizomes is just before spring. Hardy varieties should be divided in March or early April while tropical ones should be divided in May or early June.
Bamboo can be grown in containers, but they require more care since they’re more sensitive to heat and cold, strong winds, and dehydration. When growing bamboo in containers, use well draining potting soil and make sure the container has good drainage at the bottom. The bamboo will need to be repotted or divided every two to five years (this is best done in the spring). If not, most bamboo will break their confinement and the culm (cane) size will be restricted.
Transplant bamboo to your yard once they reach 16 to 20 inches in height. Remove them from their pots or containers and place them directly into the ground. The hole you transplant the bamboo into should be twice as wide as the bamboo root mass.
BLACK BAMBOO Phyllostachys nigra
Bamboo should be fertilized in the spring, followed by a second, balanced fertilized in the summer. When feeding bamboo in the spring, use a high-nitrogen, synthetic fertilizer, such as one with a 21-5-6 ratio, because bamboo needs abundant nitrogen to support its spring growth spurt. When feeding bamboo in the summer, use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula, applied at a rate of one pound per 100 square feet to give the plant the same amount of nitrogen as in the spring.
Since bamboo can grow extremely fast, it’s helpful to know how to contain them. Here are three methods that can help you contain bamboo.
Now that you know how to grow bamboo, follow these tips to ensure your bamboo stays healthy all year long.
UMBRELLA BAMBOO Fargesia murielae
The bamboo varieties you plant will depend on how cold or warm your climate gets. Here are a few bamboo varieties we recommend.
Native to the Zhejiang Province of China, this running bamboo has a distinctive yellow stripe in the culm. It’s one of the hardiest bamboo varieties and is typically used as ornamental decoration. This variety is ideal for container plantings.
This running bamboo can grow up to 16 feet tall and is used as a natural windbreaker and for erosion control. Another benefit of black bamboo is that it’s completely deer-resistant. Though it’s native to the Hunan Province in China, it’s widely cultivated around the globe.
This large, clumping bamboo is considered one of the most beautiful bamboos in cultivation. Its name references the graceful weeping habit of the plant. It does best in USDA hardiness zones 5–9.
Silverstripe bamboo is identified by a thin, narrow silver stripe along the length of the bottom few internodes. This variety provides a dense screen and can buffer wind, block sound, and tolerate winter temperatures that dip into the high teens.
This dwarf bamboo plant has deep green leaves that turn colors in the fall. It thrives in moist woodlands and shady gardens and can be used as ground cover at the base of trees or isolated as an individual plant.
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