Bamboo provides both shade and privacy in the garden. There are two main types planted in the home garden--clumping and running bamboo. Clumping bamboo is suitable for direct planting in the ground around property lines or as privacy screening, while running bamboo is invasive and better suited to growing in planters and other areas where the roots are confined. Proper maintenance of bamboo is vital if the plants are to thrive, whether they are planted in the ground or in pots.
Water bamboo twice weekly in the first six months after planting, then continue watering every seven to 10 days thereafter. Provide approximately 1 inch of water per plant per week. Bamboo leaves begin to curl when the plants require watering.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the bamboo plants to preserve soil moisture. Use organic mulches such as tree bark, wood chips or straw.
Fertilize bamboo with a balanced, complete fertilizer in spring. Fertilize bamboo in planters with a water-soluble fertilizer following the fertilizer label instructions for application amounts.
Check the soil pH level each spring using a soil test. Apply dolomitic limestone at the rate suggested by the test to maintain a soil pH between 6 and 6.5.
Prune bamboo canes that are five to seven years old or that have died. Cut the canes off at the soil surface with sharp shears or a handsaw if the canes are large in diameter.
Divide planter-bound running bamboo every two to three years in spring. Remove the roots from the pot and cut apart the root sections, or rhizomes, into 1-foot lengths that each have visible growing buds on them. Replant the rhizomes to the same depth in a new pot.