How to Plant Bamboo Trees


Bamboo is technically classified as a grass, not a tree. Even in temperate climates, bamboo remains green all year. The stalks, known as culms, grow from rhizomes, horizontal stems that grow underground. Some types, including most bamboo that grows in temperate climates, remain compact and are referred to as clump bamboo. Cultivars that spread out, including most tropical varieties are referred to as runner types. Runners can be quite invasive and difficult to contain. Choose a location in sun or partial shade. Bamboo prefers slightly acidic soil, but will tolerate any soil as long as it is well-drained.

Step 1

Dig a hole that is wider but no deeper than the root ball. Mix some organic material (peat moss, leaf mold, manure or compost) into the soil that has been removed. The ration should be 1/3 organic matter to 2/3 soil.

Step 2

Remove the plant from its container. Prune any visibly damaged roots. When transplanting, it is crucial to keep the roots from drying out. The rhizomes should be placed one to two inches below the surface.

Step 3

Fill in around roots with the soil mix. When you have filled in the hole half way, fill the planting hole with water. As the water drains, it will settle the planting mix around the roots. Continue filling in the hole and water again.

Step 4

Cut back the culms to 1/3 of their height, keeping some of the leaves. This will help the plant to put its energy into growing roots. Stake the plant at this time. Bamboo is shallow rooted and will need staking for the first few months until the roots become established.

Step 5

Water when the soil begins to dry out. Bamboo will tell you when it needs water: the leaves will begin to curl up. Once established, is drought-tolerant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Runner bamboo cultivars are difficult to contain and can put out runners 20 feet or more from the planting area. In order to contain these plants, a barrier needs to be buried 24 to 30 inches deep around the plant. This barrier should also rise six inches above the ground to keep the plant from spreading. Runners can also be controlled by surrounding them with water, since the rhizomes won't cross it. Once established runner types are difficult to eradicate.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic matter
  • Pruning shears
  • Planting stakes
  • Garden hose


  • American Bamboo Society
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About this Author

Joan Puma is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts, and has worked in the film industry for many years as a script supervisor. Puma's interest in gardening lead her to write The Complete Urban Gardener, which was published by Harper & Row. Other interests include, art history, medieval history, and equitation.