One of the fastest growing plants, bamboo is easy to grow and is a beautiful addition to a home or garden. The bamboo family includes a myriad of over 1,200 grasses, ranging in height from a few inches to over 100 feet tall. While bamboo is typically thought of as green, it also grows stems in shades of yellow, gold, burgundy, blue, and black. Due to its multiple colors and heights, as well as its flexibility to grow indoors or outdoors in low light or bright light, bamboo complements any environment.
Types of Bamboo
Bamboo is categorized by its growth and spread into two main types: clumping and running. For indoor plants in containers, it is best to select the clumping variety. For outdoors plants that have a larger area to grow, the running variety is a good option. Clumping bamboo gains a foot or two of height each year, while running bamboo can grow anywhere from three to five feet taller in a year.
To plant bamboo, dig up and loosen the soil. Remove any weeds in the area if planting outside. Fill the hole with rich, loose soil, preferably with moderately acidic loamy soil. Bamboo can be planted either in the form of rhizomes or as a plant. Embed the rhizomes or plants about two inches deep into the soil. Spread at least two inches of mulch over the area where the bamboo is planted. Great substitutes for normal mulch include grass and home-made compost. Grass is high in nitrogen, and using home-made compost puts waste to an environmentally healthy use.
Newly planted bamboo requires a lot of water, and often; about twice a week, water young bamboo with half a gallon to a gallon of water, being wary of flooding. However, once bamboo has matured, it requires water less regularly. To know when a bamboo plant is thirsty, check to see if its leaves have curled up. The addition of fertilizer about once a month ensures especially healthy bamboo. Lawn or organic fertilizers that are high in nitrogen are the best, but only after the bamboo has been planted; using fertilizer while initially planting the bamboo can burn the roots! When growing bamboo in a pot, it is important to select a pot that will contain the expanding roots of the bamboo plant. Keep in mind that any potted bamboo must be repotted or divided every two to five years.
Where to Plant Bamboo
When selecting a place to grow outdoor bamboo, keep in mind that the plant is healthiest when it receives at least five hours of direct sunlight a day. The exception to this rule involves young plants, which need a shade screen as they first start to grow. There also must be enough room in the selected area of a lawn, garden, or patio for the bamboo to be spaced about three to five feet apart.
Growing Bamboo Indoors
When considering which kind of bamboo to grow indoors, it is very important to select a variety whose growth won’t be too excessive for the size and height of the room in which it is placed. Giant Timber, Tropical Black, and Monastery bamboos, for example, can all reach an indoor height of 20 feet! A slightly shorter option for tall indoor bamboo is the ornamental, yellow-striped Alphonse Karr, which can reach a height of 18 feet. Medium height bamboos, such as the green and white Shiroshima bamboo and the light green Mexican Weeping bamboo, reach heights of about 12 feet. For spaces that can only accommodate heights of about three feet, good options include Tsuboi and Golden Goddess bamboos.
In addition to considering height when selecting varieties of indoor bamboos, it is also a good idea to think about the temperatures that certain types of bamboos thrive in the best. Bamboos that are temperate, which is to say that they are indigenous to a climate that involves a cold dormancy period, are not the best option for indoor growth. These plants tend to drop their leaves because the unvaried temperature of a home does not match the variations in temperature of its native environment. Thus, while it is possible to grow temperate bamboo indoors, these plants come with the added chore of sweeping up fallen leaves! Tropical bamboos, on the other hand, are well suited to the consistent temperatures typical of an indoor home environment because their native tropical environments also have year-round warm temperatures. Consult the vendor during the process of purchasing bamboo plants in order to be sure which plant will survive well in the home.
Whether you plant and nurture your bamboo indoors or out, you will love having this new addition around your home.