There are many species of bamboo. Some lend themselves better to cooler climates than others. Some grow in clumps and some will spread very quickly and can be hard to control. There are even varieties that do well indoors, in containers. Bamboo can be used to create a living fence, privacy screen or just a lovely border or backdrop to your garden. Raising bamboo requires time and some work, suggesting this is not the plant for the very busy individual.
Choose a sunny location that will offer the young bamboo some afternoon shade. The location should be high enough that water will not pool and leave the bamboo sitting in it for any length of time. If you are creating a live fence or screen and some areas are low, grade the area before you start planting the bamboo.
Dig a hole 1 inch deeper and twice as wide as the bamboo's rhizome for clumping bamboo. Mix the dug-out soil with 1 part compost to 1 part original soil. Space holes for plants 3 to 5 feet apart.
Contain running bamboo. Dig a trench 30 inches deep and a few inches wide surrounding the area in which you want running bamboo to be grown. Place the plastic sheeting down the walls of the trench and up over the top edge. Fill the dirt back in very tightly to hold the plastic in place. This will keep the rhizomes in the contained area so they don't spread to unwanted areas. Another method is to create a 10-inch-deep trench around the area and check it often to make sure the rhizomes aren't trying to cross it. This is not as effective, but less expensive.
Create a hole for the running bamboo inside the contained area just as you would the clumping type and amend the soil. Fill in one inch of the hole with the amended soil and place the rhizome in so the plant will be at the same level as it was in the container it came in.
Fill in the hole halfway with amended soil and water to compact the soil around the rhizome. Then continue to fill until the soil is level with the surrounding ground or even slightly higher. Water again and press down the soil tightly.
Mulch the area around the bamboo plants with grass clippings or pine needles. Bamboo requires a lot of nitrogen. These mulches provide nitrogen and help to keep the soil moist.
Place wooden stakes around the bamboo plant if you live in a wind-prone area. Tie rope to the stakes and then two-thirds up the bamboo shoot. The bamboo can grow as much as 3 inches a day and they have very shallow roots, which makes them easy to blow over during very windy periods.
Water the bamboo to keep the soil moist. The amount needed will differ with the type of bamboo and the location you are in. Bamboo plants do not like to be completely dry, so you might need to water every day during hot, dry periods. Hot winds will also dry the plant out and you will need to give it some extra water. Young plants should be given protection, such as some sort of windbreak.
Fertilize bamboo with a high-nitrogen grass fertilizer once you start to see growth. Slow-release granules mixed into the soil work well or you can use a water-soluble fertilizer that attaches to your garden hose and water it in. Fertilize once in the summer and then again in the fall or early spring.
Prune off dead culms once a year in the fall. You will probably not have any dead culms for five to 10 years, unless there has been some kind of damage to the plant. If the bamboo becomes very thick and air circulation or the interior is not getting any sun, then prune the center to thin it out. Other than that, bamboo does not need much pruning.