Bamboo is a perennial grass with woody stems that are divided into sections by joints called nodes. One of the fastest-growing plants on the planet, bamboo comes in over 1,000 varieties; some only reach a few inches in height and some varieties can reach 120 feet tall and measure 12 inches in diameter. According to the Western Garden Book, all bamboo species are evergreen and will emerge from the soil at their full diameter and typically reach their full height in the first month of growing. Plants classified as giant bamboo are the thickest and tallest of the species.
Select a species of bamboo that is adapted for your climate zone and which has a large diameter (4 inches or bigger). You can find your climate zone by consulting a gardening book or gardening website. In general, bamboo grows best in areas with full sun to partial shade, little to regular water, and in temperatures that do not drop below freezing. Some thick bamboo varieties include Oldham bamboo, which grows to 25 feet tall, has a diameter of 4 inches, and is hardy to -9.44 degrees Celsius; Giant timber bamboo, with a maximum height of 35 feet, a diameter of 6 inches, and a hardiness to -17.8 degrees Celsius; and Beechey bamboo, which grows to 20 feet tall, reaches a diameter of 5 inches and is hardy to 0-9.444 degrees Celsius.
Choose a bamboo plant that is root bound in its container. Check the roots of the plant; they should be visibly grown together with little soil showing through. The stalks of the bamboo should be densely grown together with little space between them. Bamboo that is crowded and root bound will grow faster when it is planted.
Select between clumping or running bamboo. Clumping bamboo grows in patches and spreads slowly while running bamboo spreads out rapidly by way of their fast-growing and long-reaching rhizomes. Choose clumping bamboo varieties if you do not want your bamboo to spread to other areas of your landscape and you don't want to spend time preventing spreading. Running bamboo can be hard to contain and can quickly overtake your garden, making it a good choice for gardeners interested in container gardening or those who do not mind if bamboo spreads throughout their landscape. Both running and clumping bamboo come is many varieties adapted for a wide-range of different climate zones.
Dig a 12-inch-wide trench around your bamboo bed with a shovel before planting your seedlings. The trench will allow you to see any rhizomes that appear and allow you to cut them and clear them out before they have a chance to spread the bamboo throughout your yard.
Amend your soil by adding lawn or fertiliser and 3 to 6 inches of compost to your soil. Follow the instructions on your particular brand of lawn fertiliser for general feeding for the correct amount to add to your soil. Mix the amendments into the soil by using a shovel to turn the soil over to a depth of 12 inches.
Dig a hole twice as wide as your bamboo's root ball and place it in the hole. Use the removed soil to fill in the hole, pressing it in tightly, and leaving the root ball sitting slightly above the top of the soil. Water thoroughly.
Fertilise your bamboo weekly, using an all-purpose lawn fertiliser. Follow the directions on the fertiliser package for high dosage plants and apply the amount of fertiliser specified.
Water your bamboo once or twice weekly to help it become established. After the first six months of growing time, you may be able to reduce watering to once every 10 days.
Bamboo is hard to find in typical nurseries. Contact bamboo specialist to find a wider selection of bamboo species.
Tips and warnings
- Bamboo is hard to find in typical nurseries. Contact bamboo specialist to find a wider selection of bamboo species.