Cutting & Growing Bamboo

Overview

Bamboo is grown as a privacy screen or ornamental plant in U.S. gardens. It also has hundreds of uses in many parts of the world, including as building material, containers and food. The two types of bamboo are the running types that spread aggressively from underground rhizomes, and the clumping type that grows into large clumps. Bamboo can be easy to grow in the right conditions, but the right conditions must be provided if they do not exist in the garden. You can do this by adding the correct soil amendments and making sure they get the right amount of sunlight and moisture.

Step 1

Obtain a soil test by contacting your local County Agricultural Extension Office and asking for assistance. They will give you the information needed to collect the soil and tell you where to send the soil sample once you've collected it. Have the soil tested for growing Bermuda grass since it has the same cultural requirements as bamboo.

Step 2

Choose a type of bamboo that is suitable for your USDA Horticultural zone. Not all varieties or types of bamboo can survive below-freezing temperatures. You may not have the room for the running types of bamboo which can spread far and wide. Your landscape may be more suitable for the clumping type of bamboo.

Step 3

Find a location in the landscape that has the correct level of sun exposure for the variety of bamboo you are planting. Some varieties may grow best if planted in full sun while another may flourish in a shady location. All kinds of bamboo prefer a well-drained location. Bamboo will die or decline if left standing in waterlogged soil.

Step 4

Clear the area of weeds and pulverize the soil to a depth of 12 inches using a shovel. Add compost. A mixture of half soil and half well-rotted compost is ideal for bamboo culture. Add the required soil amendments at the amounts recommended by your soil test. Work all amendments into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Do not add any other fertilizer or amendments other than those suggested by the soil test. Excess fertilizer can burn or damage the roots of new bamboo plants. Rake the area smooth.

Step 5

Plant bamboo plants 15 feet apart. The plants or root clumps should be planted in a hole deep enough to easily accommodate the entire clump. The clumps need to be planted at the same depth at which they were planted in their previous location. Add water while you add the planting soil to make sure no air pockets form around the roots. Add a 1-inch layer of mulch over the soil around the root base of the bamboo to conserve moisture.

Step 6

Bamboo can be cut anytime it reaches the desired size by cutting the stalks, or culms, at ground level with a pruning saw. The harvested culms can be left to dry, or cure, in a shaded, dry area and used as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test results
  • Recommended soil amendments
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Bamboo plants
  • Mulch
  • Pruning saw

References

  • UGA: Growing Bamboo in Georgia
  • Auburn Ag: Bamboo Growing in Alabama
  • Complete Bamboo: Bamboo Grower's Guide

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Plant Hardiness Zone Map
  • USDA: Cooperative Extension Offices Nationwide
Keywords: grow bamboo, harvesting bamboo, bamboo culture

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.