Bamboo is classified as either running or clumping. Both types spread rather quickly, and running bamboo can take over a yard if not properly contained. Some types of bamboo are classified as invasive. Golden bamboo, for example, is a pest plant, according to the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Control. For this reason, you might prefer growing bamboo in containers. You can also grow bamboo as a houseplant.
How much light you give your bamboo depends heavily on the species. It is hard to make care "rules" that apply to all types of bamboo, according to the American Bamboo Society. Still, all types of bamboo need a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day to grow properly. Place indoor bamboo plants near a window that gets bright, indirect sunlight.
Container plants lose water more quickly than their in-ground counterparts. For this reason, bamboo grown in containers may need more supplemental watering than those in the landscape. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and never allow it to dry out. Containers should have holes for proper drainage. If the container has a water-catch tray, empty the tray emptied promptly after the container has finished draining. You may need to water daily during hot periods of drought, especially for containers outside.
Bamboo plants are heavy feeders, regardless of whether they are planted in containers or in the ground. Fertilize your container bamboo when the stems (called culms) begin to sprout leaves, then fertilize again three months later, and a final time three months after that. Use a high-nitrogen (30-10-10), water-soluble fertilizer and apply according to the directions on the label.
Bamboos need large containers. There should be 2 inches between the edge of the root ball and the side of the container, advises the American Bamboo Society. When the roots begin to crowd the sides of the pot, remove the plant and cut the root ball back by a third. Then, replace it in the pot and fill with new potting soil. Most species of bamboo need re-potting about once every three years. Alternately, you can leave the root ball intact and move the bamboo plant to a larger container.
Container bamboo plants are not insulated from winter freezes as are their in-ground counterparts. Most outdoor container bamboo plants need to be moved to a warmer location; one that averages around 40 degrees F (for temperate species) or 50 degrees F (for tropical bamboos). Note that this is only necessary for those climates that have freezing winters and not for indoor plants or climates with mild winters.