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How To Plant Bamboo in Cold Climates

Bamboo is an ornamental grass that grows in a variety of different climates. Some bamboos are cold hardy down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. In growing zones that have winter temperatures below that, bamboo also grows very well in containers. By protecting the containers and moving them into a heated shed, garage or greenhouse, you can grow bamboo in most climate zones.

Outdoor Planting

Select a variety of bamboo that is cold-hardy to your coldest winter temperatures. For recommendations, talk with a local nursery or your local county agricultural extension office.

In the spring, after the risk of frost has passed, dig a 3-foot-deep hole in the area where you would like to grow the bamboo. In cold climates, plant bamboo as early as possible to allow the root structures to establish before winter.

Line the hole with 40 mil plastic to prevent the bamboo from becoming invasive. Many bamboos propagate via runners that can travel a great distance.

Pack several inches of soil over the plastic barrier. Packing the soil hard discourages rhizome movement.

Fill the hole to 2 feet and pack the soil relatively hard. This will also discourage downward rhizome growth, but will allow for some growth for the health of the bamboo.

Add another 4 inches of soil to leave an 8-inch-deep hole. Place the bamboo rhizomes on the dirt with their eyes facing up. Cover the bamboo and water thoroughly.

Allow the bamboo to develop over the spring, summer and fall. In late fall, around the time of the last frost, add a foot or two of mulch to the bamboo to keep the soil as warm as possible over the winter. Allow bamboo leaves that fall to remain on the ground. These make a good mulch and also add good nutrition to the soil. Remove the mulch in the spring after the risk of frost has passed.

By selecting a variety of bamboo hardy enough for your climate zone and mulching, your bamboo should easily survive the winter and return in the spring.

Container Growing

Select a container suitable to the size of bamboo you would like to grow. Bamboo ranges from varieties that grow to 5-6 feet, to varieties that grow over 70 feet. By growing bamboo in a container, you can grow warmer climate varieties in cold climates.

Fill the pot to within around 8 inches of the top. Place the bamboo rhizomes with the eyes up on the dirt. Cover the rhizomes and water the bamboo thoroughly.

Grow the bamboo over the spring, summer and fall to allow the root structures to become established.

In the fall, move the bamboo into a garage or shed. In very cold climates, move the bamboo into a heated garage or shed. If you are moving the bamboo into a heated area, try to place the bamboo near a window or other light source. Depending on the temperature of the room, the bamboo may not go completely dormant and may need some light.

Wrap the pot in bubble wrap. Measure the circumference of the pot and use twice the circumference of bubble wrap to make a double insulation layer around the pot. The bubble wrap will help to keep the soil warmer over the winter.

Move the pot outside after the risk of hard frost has passed.

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