Bamboo Plant FAQ

Bamboo Plant FAQ image by Picture by Em Connell McCarty


Bamboo plants are the food of giant pandas and are touted as one of the best renewable resources on the planet. Bamboo has been used to build suspension bridges and has been used in the structure of planes and boats. Bamboo plants are decorative and versatile. Though bamboo plants are easy plants to grow in your yard, house or garden, you may need a few questions answered before getting started.

What Is Bamboo?

Bamboo plants are a quickly growing grass that presents in clumps. Bamboo plants are a woody, perennial grass with over 1400 varieties known worldwide. Some bamboo plants are small enough to be house plants, and some grow into towering walls, eight inches in diameter and 80 feet tall. Though bamboo plants are known for growing in warm climates, there are species of bamboo that can grow in temperatures down to 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Bamboo plants can be harvested for the bamboo which is a durable building material for crafts as well as flooring and furniture.

What Kind of Bamboo Should I Plant?

To choose the bamboo plants that will work best for you, you need to be aware of what the hottest and coldest days are in your climate as well as what kind of soil you hope to plant them in. You should also know how much rain is normal for your climate. This can help you choose which bamboo plants will grow best for you. Additionally, you need to consider what you expect from your bamboo plants. Figure out if you want them for decoration or if you hope to use them as a privacy screen or windbreak. Furthermore, you need to know how tall you want your bamboo plants to be and how large of a plot you have for your bamboo plants in order to plant the appropriate bamboo.

How Do You Care For Bamboo?

Bamboo does not require a lot of care. Bamboo will grow in most types of soil, but the better the soil is the better your bamboo will grow. Make sure the plant is in well-drained soil---standing water will kill your bamboo plant. After you plant it you will need to keep it well watered until it has adjusted. If your bamboo plant is not getting enough water, you will notice its leaves are curling up. You can use fertilizer on your bamboo plant---though you do not have to---just make sure it is a grass fertilizer. Bamboo plants will also benefit from compost and mulch. The leaves they occasionally drop should be left on the ground because they work as natural mulch and supply your bamboo plant with silica.

How Fast Will Bamboo Grow?

Bamboo plants reach their full height in one growing season, sometimes growing more than a foot in one day. In the years after that they start to add branches. Meanwhile, your bamboo plant will also be growing in diameter. The clump of bamboo will double its diameter every year. If you do not want your bamboo to take over your yard, you may need to build a bamboo barrier---which is you have to dig a three feet deep trench around it and fill it with gravel or concrete. One the other hand, it is very easy to start a new bamboo plant simply by digging up a clump of your existing one and transplanting it.

Can You Eat Bamboo?

Bamboo shoots are edible and tasty. It is best to harvest them before they emerge from the ground. Another rule of thumb is to eat them before their length is four times their diameter. Some can be eaten raw, but some are toxic and need to be cooked before eating. If you are not certain about yours, make sure to cook them before eating them. Leaves, branches and shoots can all be eaten by livestock. Bamboo plants provide an easy winter meal for your cows, horses and goats.

Keywords: bamboo plants, care for bamboo, questions about bamboo

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for more than 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She is continuing her study of English and writing at the University of Wisconsin. She writes fiction, creative nonfiction and essays. McCarty's fiction has been published in "Hip Mama" magazine and "Danse Macabre."

Photo by: Picture by Em Connell McCarty