The growth pattern of Bamboo differs from that of most woody shrubs. Once per year, usually in spring, new growth occurs as a bamboo shoot. The shoot emerges from the ground and reaches its full height in 6-8 weeks. You can literally watch some Bamboos grow up to 3 feet in one day! The potential growth of Bamboo varies depending on genetics and variety. Plant growth can be accelerated by providing the optimum growing conditions each variety prefers. Bamboo prefers well-drained fertile soil of neutral pH and high organic content. Bamboo does not appreciate planting where the soil is wet for extended periods of time, however, some varieties are shown to tolerate moist soil. There use extends to hedges and screens as well as specimen planting
Running Bamboos spread by sending out roots into the earth to a depth of about one foot. Some running bamboos are modest growers, while others can be extremely vigorous and invasive. “Running” can be controlled by cutting back the ends of the rhizomes with a spade. Phyllostachys, or Giant Bamboo, are the tallest of the species and prefer sun or partial shade.
This type of Bamboo is not invasive. The new shoots occur on the outside margin of the parent plant. Fargesia, the hardiest of all Bamboos, remain evergreen through winter and tolerate temperatures to –25 degrees. Fargesias are usually used to form a hedge with a wonderful weeping mass of evergreen foliage. They look great planted near the edge of a pond where the water will reflect their pendulous silhouette. Fargesia does best in partial shade.
1. Dig the hole 2 times the root ball diameter and 1.5 times the depth of the root ball. Add 6” of well composted manure beneath the root ball as a planting base to feed the bamboo.
2. Make sure the bamboo is at the same planting depth as in the container.
3. Backfill 2 parts excavated soil, one part well composted manure and one part compost or sphagnum peat.
4. Build a soil water retention ring just outside the planting hole.
5. After planting, water deeply.
6. Mulch with 2-3” of pine bark mulch.
7. Water on a weekly basis.
Watering is critical during the first year of growth. When you water, water deeply! The amount and frequency of watering depends upon exposure to wind and sun as well as temperature. Do not let your plants dry out during their first year. Leaf curling will indicate plant stress and need for water. Some yellowing or shedding of leaves in late summer or fall might occur but will not harm the plant.
Commercial fertilizers are not recommended the first year. Well-composted manure or compost rich in nutrients is the best source of organic matter for your Bamboo. Do not use dehydrated manure. After the first year, once your Bamboos are established, commercial fertilizers can be used. Bamboo appreciates fertilizers high in nitrogen.
Most bamboos remain evergreen throughout winter. Some bamboos will often die back to
the ground, but usually are root-hardy and send out culms in May or June. Adequate
mulching is most important for winter protection of your plants—a 4-6” layer is recommended. Anti-desiccant spray (Wilt-Pruf) applied to the foliage is a good way to prevent damage from drying winter winds.