Many people do not know that bamboo is a grass and not a tree or shrub. Bamboo grows quickly and is a much more renewable resource than trees. It is used to make many things, from paper to fencing and flooring. There are two basic types of bamboo: clumping and running. They both grow quickly, but the running type is hard to control and requires the installation of barriers to keep it from growing where it shouldn’t. The clumping type is a better choice for the home landscape. Bamboo in the landscape gives a tropical look and is used for accent planting and screening.
Choose a location that has full sun in the morning and some afternoon shade. Young bamboo plants will suffer sun scorch; established bamboo can withstand full sun well. If you do not have an area with afternoon shade, set up a sun screen in the afternoon for the first summer after planting. The area should also drain well.
Dig a hole twice the diameter of the container or root ball of bamboo. The plant itself should be planted no deeper than it was in the container. If the plant was bare root, you should be able to see a dirt line where the soil level was.
Remove all the lawn turf, weed and stones from the dug-out soil and mix it to a ratio of 1 part compost to 2 parts original soil. The compost will help to keep the soil well draining and supply nutrients to the bamboo.
Mix a slow-release, balanced fertilizer into the amended soil. Follow the manufacturer’s direction as to the amount of fertilizer to use for the form of bamboo you are planting. Apply the fertilizer again each spring.
Soak the roots of a bare root plant in a bucket of clean water while digging the hole and amending the soil. Then place the root ball into the planting hole. This will help the roots rehydrate and adapt to the new soil quicker. Container plants can be placed directly into the planting hole.
Fill in the hole with the amended soil and water to settle the soil around the roots. Fill in any areas that settled after watering so the soil level is the same as the surrounding ground. Tamp the soil down firmly around the plant with your hand.
Spread a 2-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant to keep weeds from growing and to keep the ground evenly moist. While established bamboo will handle drought, young bamboo needs to be kept moist for the first 2 years.
Water the bamboo every three days for the first two weeks after planting and enough to keep the ground moist but not soggy throughout the summer and fall for the first two years. Keeping the soil moist will depend on soil consistency and weather conditions. Test by sticking your finger into the soil to 2 inches. If it is dry, it’s time to water.