Bamboo is native to many parts or the world, including the tropics and more northern climates in China and northern Japan. Although bamboo grows best in its natural outdoor setting, it also grows very well as an indoor potted plant. Many bamboo varieties will work indoors, but there are a number of things to consider when selecting a bamboo variety.
A potted bamboo can be an integral part of a Chinese, Japanese or Zen room design. Potted bamboos also work well in tropical or island motifs. The type of bamboo that is best will depend on your decor. A thin-caned black bamboo might be more appropriate than a thicker one, or vice versa. For example, thin, black bamboo might provide a visual contrast in a room with a Zen motif, whereas thicker-caned bamboo might be pleasing in a South Pacific themed room.
Growth Rate and Height
In nature, some bamboos grow as fast as 4 feet per day. Indoor bamboos do not grow nearly that fast, but if you are looking for a plant that will quickly fill out a pot or a space, bamboo is a good choice. How fast an indoor bamboo grows will depend on its variety and the conditions. A very fast-growing indoor bamboo can grow as much as a foot in a week, but most grow at under a foot per month.
Bamboo can grow to between 4 and 120 feet tall, depending on the variety. When selecting a type to grow indoors, choose a variety that will fit in your room. Although you can prune bamboo canes, some varieties grow so quickly that keeping them shorter than your ceiling can be a problem. When selecting a variety, include the height of your pot in your calculations.
True bamboo reproduces using runners. Bamboo that reproduces via slow growing runners is often called clumping bamboo' those using fast growing runners is often called running bamboo. Running bamboo, when planted outside, can often become invasive. However, grown indoors both types are equally suitable for pots. True bamboos that grow well in pots include solidus, sasa palmeta, and arrow bamboo. Lucky bamboo is, in fact, not a bamboo. Although it looks like bamboo, it is a water lily.
Bonsai and Miniature Bamboo
It is possible to grow a miniature grove of bonsai bamboo. By planting smaller bamboo rhizomes in bonsai pots, you can train a miniature grove of bamboo that looks very much like a larger grove. When growing a miniature grove, remove most of the canes to limit available energy for growth. This will help keep the bonsai small. Growing bamboo as a bonsai is one of the highest forms of bonsai art, and takes experimentation and work to get a bonsai bamboo grove growing properly.
Light is an important consideration in placing your bamboo. In the natural environment, bamboo grows under a protective canopy. When placing your bamboo, try to select a location that gets partial direct light in either the morning or evening. However, if your room has a large window, ample indirect light is often adequate for most types of bamboo. When growing bamboo indoors, keep it moist. Water your bamboo whenever the top 1/4 inch of soil feels dry.