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Care & Food for Indoor Bamboo Plants

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Bamboo can grow well indoors with proper care and food
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Fabrizio Monti

Bamboo is a thick grass that develops tall, woody stems. Potted bamboos are very popular indoor plants that can survive for many years with proper care and feeding. Bamboos can range in height from 18 inches to over 60 feet. Mature canes can be tan, brown, green, or black, depending on the variety.

Natural Environment

In nature, bamboo grows in forests shaded under a taller protective canopy. The canopy prevents leaf burn from intense sunlight and also helps to reduce soil moisture loss due to evaporation. Forests also tend to help protect bamboo from very strong winds.


In nature, the bamboo and canopy trees will drop leaves. These leaves tend to replace nutrients in the soil required for good bamboo growth. Indoor bamboo plants depend entirely on you for proper food and fertilization. In spring, bamboo needs a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. However, according to On Thai Time, some varieties of bamboos are susceptible to nitrogen root burn. Step down the amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer from summer onward and always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for bamboo fertilization.


Keep your potted indoor bamboo in an area that is partially protected from sun, especially long periods of hot afternoon sun. If you find your bamboo's leaves turning yellow and dropping off, it may be getting too much light. Try moving the tree to a more protected place.


Different varieties of bamboo grow naturally to different heights. If you find that your indoor bamboo is getting close to the ceiling, you may need to prune it. Pruning in the spring when the new growth is still softer is easier. With some thin, tender bamboos, you can prune with a pair of sharp pruning shears. However, if you discover a need to prune after the canes have become woody, use a sharp saw to prune your plant. Cut the canes just above an existing joint for best results.


Over the course of several years, your bamboo will likely outgrow its pot. In general, remove your bamboo from its pot every two years. If you want to keep your bamboo in its existing pot, remove 1/2 to 1/3 of the bamboo and re-plant the remaining bamboo in the existing pot. If you want to keep the entire plant intact, re-plant it in a pot 1/4 to 1/3 larger than the existing pot.


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.