The bamboo plant is a true grass variety that grows as an evergreen perennial in all areas that have mild winter conditions. Bamboo has a root system that forms a clumping or running type of plant. Clumping varieties form a plant mass that spreads slowly. Running varieties have a fast-growing root system that spreads up to 2 feet each year. Bamboo plants grow best when provided an adequate water supply during the dry summer months.
Choose a bamboo planting area that has partial shade, protection from wind and a well-draining, nutrient rich soil. Test the soil pH to verify it is 6.0 to 6.5. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil two weeks before planting the bamboo to lower the pH or limestone to raise the pH.
Place a polyethylene barrier around the planting to prevent running bamboo varieties from spreading into unwanted areas. Dig a 30-inch deep trench and insert the high-density barrier so 2 to 3 inches is protruding from the soil. Fill the trench with soil and pack to hold the barrier in place.
Plant the bamboo in a hole that is the slightly deeper and two to three times wider than the rootball. Add 1 to 2 inches of organic compost to the bottom of the hole. Set the plant on top. Mix an equal portion of organic compost with the removed soil. Pack it around the bamboo rootball.
Apply 2 inches of organic compost around the bamboo plant as a mulch layer to increase soil moisture retention and decrease weed growth that competes with nutrients and moisture.
Water the bamboo to a soil depth of 10 inches after planting. Provide supplemental water to keep the soil moist during the first growing season. Water established bamboo plants when the weekly rainfall amounts are less than 1 inch.
Fertilize bamboo plants with a high nitrogen turf fertilizer in early spring, early summer and early fall. Water the soil well after applying fertilizer to assist with absorption. Do no fertilize after planting, as this may burn the plant. Follow package instructions for the application rate.
Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch over the bamboo plants for winter coverage in areas where the temperatures drop below 20 degrees F. Remove the mulch in early spring to stimulate plant growth.