Bamboo is a tropical plant that appears as thin-stemmed trees but is from the grass family. The plant grows well in the warm, humid South Florida weather and is available in either a clumping or running form. Home gardens prefer the clumping variety as an ornamental grass feature because it grows slowly from a large root ball. Running bamboo spreads quickly through a rhizome root system and is invasive in areas where there are no control measures. Both varieties perform well in South Florida when given adequate moisture during hot, dry weather.
Select a planting location for the bamboo tree that has a well-draining soil and partial shade. Choose an area with no overhead power lines and has wind protection because South Florida winds can damage young plants as they establish a root system.
Test the soil in the planting are to verify it is acidic at a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Add ground rock sulfur to the soil, according to package applications rates, to lower the pH if it is above 6.5. Add limestone to the soil to raise the pH if it measures below 6.0.
Add 2 to 3 inches of organic compost to the top of the soil to increase the nutrient value of the sandy South Florida soil. Work the soil amendments to a depth of 10 inches with a tiller. Soak the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and let it rest for two weeks before planting the bamboo.
Install a sheet of polyethylene around the bamboo planting area to a depth of 30 inches if planting a running bamboo type. This will prevent the spread of bamboo to unwanted areas.
Dig a planting hole that is twice as wide and several inches deeper than the container the bamboo came in. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic compost to the bottom of the hole and set the bamboo root ball on top so the top of the root ball is at ground level.
Mix equal portions of organic compost into the removed soil to increase the water-holding properties of the sandy South Florida soil. Pack the amended soil around the bamboo root ball to limit air pockets around the roots.
Water the soil around the bamboo to a depth of 8 to 10 inches after planting. Continue to provide supplemental water to the plants during the first growing season so the soil remains evenly moist for root establishment. Monitor the soil moisture closely during the hot South Florida summer when rainfall is low.
Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost around the plants and over the root ball area to provide mulch for soil moisture retention and additional nutrients to the plants. Add organic compost around the plants each year to maintain a 3-inch layer.
Fertilize the soil over the bamboo root ball with a turf grass fertilizer in the fall after planting. Apply according to the package instructions for the square feet of planting area. Fertilize the bamboo each spring and fall after the first growing season.