Bamboo grows from underground growth systems called rhizomes. There are many species of bamboo, but they all need warm climates to thrive. Generally known as the fastest growing plant on Earth, each species of bamboo grows at a different pace. Slow-growing cultivars such as Bambusa multiplex are called clump bamboos. Fast-growing bamboo species are called running bamboo. These rhizomes may spread out up to 15 feet in one growing season.
Planting Clump Bamboo
Select a sunny location on your property with good drainage. Loosen the soil at least 12 inches deep in the spring after all threat of frost has passed.
Dig a hole for individual clump bamboo rhizomes 5 inches deep in loose soil. If you are planting clump bamboo as a hedge, dig a 5-inch-deep trench.
Space clump bamboo rhizomes based on the expected height of the plant. If the clump species is expected to grow up to 10 feet tall, set the rhizomes 5 feet apart. Planting bamboo with spacing equal to half of the expected height will allow the plants to reach their maximum size.
Space differently if you're planting clump bamboo as a hedge. Set the rhizomes 4 to 6 inches apart for a desired hedge height of less than 3 feet. For hedges 3 to 10 feet tall, space the plants 6 to 12 inches apart. For hedges taller than 10 feet, space the plants 12 to 24 inches apart.
Fill the hole with loose soil. Apply lawn fertilizer over the top of the loose soil at a rate of 2 1/2 lbs. per 100 square feet of planting area.
Cover the area around the plants with a 3-inch-deep layer of organic mulch. Soak the soil around newly planted bamboo thoroughly.
Planting Running Bamboo Cuttings
Select a sunny location to plant a hedge of running bamboo cuttings. As with clump bamboo rhizomes, plant running bamboo cuttings in the spring after all threat of frost has passed.
Dig a trench 12-inches deep and 18-inches wide to plant 12-inch tall cuttings. Stand the running bamboo rhizome cuttings in the trench 6 inches apart. To start a hedge with running bamboo plants that are up to two years old, dig a trench 18-inches wide and 6-inches deep. Set the plants 18 inches apart on alternating sides of the trench. Plant specimen running bamboo plants in 6-inch deep holes.
Fill the trench or hole with soil and pack it firmly around the plants. Cover the area with lawn fertilizer at a rate of 2-1/2 lbs. per 100 square feet of planted area.
Spread a 3-inch deep layer of organic mulch around the plants. Soak the soil well at the base of the plant.
Caring for Bamboo
Fertilize once each spring with grass fertilizer at the same rate as when you planted the bamboo.
Protect bamboo from drought; soak the soil around the plants every 10 days between spring and late fall.
Prune hedges once or twice each year. Allow the canes to grow to the expected height once before cutting. Remove dead material as needed.
About this Author
Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.