Growing & Cutting Bamboo Canes

Updated February 21, 2017

Bamboo grows in bushy, thriving clumps or climbing vines and can take over any planting site very quickly. As a relatively hardy plant, bamboo is easily established and then easily divided. It grows from rhizomes, which divide on their own for propagation. Grow and divide bamboo to develop new plants.

Plant bamboo rhizomes, or bulbs, in an area where they get full sun and good drainage. Amend any bamboo planting site with half compost and half quick-draining soil or sand to give bamboo both the nutrition and drainage it requires. Plant rhizomes at depths of 2 inches, and give each rhizome at least 10 feet of space for growth and expansion.

Water bamboo once a week with 2 to 3 inches of water. Although bamboo doesn't like to sit in water, it does require plenty of moisture for its growth. Make sure that the soil is always moist, but never muddy.

Fertilise bamboo with organic or 10-10-10 fertiliser once a month to keep it growing and thriving. Always fertilise per manufacturer directions in regard to amount and application.

Cut bamboo canes at the end of the growing season, when the plant is preparing for dormancy. The best time for dividing bamboo is late summer and early fall, after it has had two full growing seasons. Choose a new site for the cuttings if you're going to be planting them outdoors. Choose a site that has good drainage and full sunshine, and amend the soil with a mixture of half compost and half quick-draining soil. Remove any weeds or rocks from the new site to give the cuttings a good chance at survival.

Dig up the rhizome of one of your established bamboo plants. Be careful not to damage the rhizome or roots when you're digging it up. Locate the natural divisions in the rhizome, where it has divided on its own. The separate rhizomes should have both roots and sprouts. Cut the rhizome at these spots, and be careful never to cut more than one-third of the established rhizome from the plant.

Put the parent plant back in its place, and plant the new rhizome in your prepared site. Plant bamboo rhizomes 1 to 2 inches deep in amended soil, and make sure that there are no air pockets in the soil.

Water the new rhizomes with 2 to 3 inches of water immediately to help them settle in. Put them on the same watering schedule as your established plants, and look for sprouting within three weeks.


Always allow bamboo to grow for at least two seasons before you divide it. By the end of the second season, division may be necessary. This gives the plant a better chance at establishment before the disruption of a division.


Never use fresh manure on bamboo, as it will burn the roots and rhizomes.

Things You'll Need

  • Quick-draining soil
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Knife
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