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How to Plant Variegated Bamboo

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017

Variegated bamboo is a beautiful addition to your yard's landscaping. However, in some areas, like the Pacific Northwest and warmer areas, bamboo can propagate via underground runners or rhizomes and can become invasive. By preparing the planting to limit the bamboo's growth, you can create anything from a simple round bamboo growth to a larger bamboo screen.

Choose a location for your new bamboo planting. Bamboo grows naturally in forests, and young bamboo often do better in a partially shaded location.

Dig a hole slightly larger than the eventual desired size of the bamboo planting in the spring. Bamboo are an invasive plant, so you will need to place a barrier to prevent the bamboo from growing beyond the desired area. The hole will need to be at least 30 inches deep.

Line the hole with at least 60 mil plastic and place dirt over the liner. In some cases, you may be able to use a plastic garbage can or pail for your barrier. Remember to cut the bottom out and to set the can or pail at least 30 inches deep.

Compact the soil that contacts the barrier to discourage rhizome growth. Avoid air pockets or loose areas of soil next to the barrier.

Back fill the hole to the appropriate height for your new bamboo. Your new plant should sit just beneath the surface of the adjacent ground.

Place your un-potted new bamboo in the ground. If you are planting a series to form a screen, plant them three to five feet apart.

Fill in the area around your bamboo until you have about a foot between the soil level in the planting and the adjacent soil.

Add some high-nitrogen fertilizer. Follow the fertilizer's general planting directions. Don't fertilize below the top foot or so of the planting to discourage rhizomes from burrowing under your barrier.

Fill in the rest of the planting and add an inch or two of mulch. Almost any organic mulch will do, but natural grasses will help augment the soil and keep the bamboo healthy.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Young bamboo
  • Plastic barrier material
  • High nitrogen fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • Don't rake any leaves that fall off. These make an excellent mulch and are very good for the soil.
  • If your bamboo breaks out of its barrier, try cutting the rhizomes and repeatedly cutting back the new growth in undesired areas. In some cases, however, you may need to dig up the rhizomes from undesired areas to control growth.


About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.