Planting bamboo can be very advantageous for the average gardener. It has a unique look and is easy to maintain, making it a simple way to spruce up the backyard décor, construct a natural fence and much more.
Bamboo is a grass, so its growth patterns will be similar to an average lawn; however, most people plant it for a specific function so the amount of attention that you give to it will be similar to most plants.
There are several different factors that must be considered before you plant bamboo that will help ensure it survives through its infancy and has a long, healthy life.
Before you plant bamboo it is important to understand two different concepts. The first would be the explanation of its rhizome. A rhizome is the horizontal and underground stem of the plant in which vertical shoots grow from.
They are known to spread rapidly and continuously allowing bamboo to effectively take over an area. The second concept is that there are two different types of bamboo. The first of these two is a clumping-type.
This type of bamboo will grow in a circular, colony-like manner and grow outwards. This is good when you’re using bamboo to decorate a specific area. The second type of bamboo is the running-type.
This type appears to grow in a single, often straight line. If it is controlled and pruned correctly, this can form a screen or fence. Both types have their advantages and should be considered by the planter depending on the nature of their project.
When considering bamboo plant care there is a variety of factors you should consider.
Such as the environment that you plant in, the amount of spacing between other plants such as weeds or even other planted bamboo, the amount of water and sunlight the plant receives, the type of soil it is planted in and how often the plant is pruned.
If you desire to maximize the strength, growth rate and overall life of your bamboo, then careful instructions must be followed.
What’s the Ideal Climate?
One of the most important factors that growers need to take into account is the climate of the environment that they are going to plant in.
Bamboo is fairly resilient and can grow in a variety of different climates; however it grows best in places that experience moderate temperatures. If you’re planting in hotter or colder environments you should wait for seasons that are less extreme in temperature.
This gives the plant ample time to establish itself, mature and harden. This will increase its chances to survive other seasons. Colder environments should plant during the summer and use heavier mulch for the plant’s first winter season.
This will provide more insulation from the harsh cold temperatures. Hotter environments should plant during fall or early spring, using lighter mulch. You’ll need to water your bamboo more frequently than other areas.
Spacing for Bamboo
Proper spacing is another important factor in bamboo plant care. The optimal spacing between bamboo plants is 3-5 feet. This will enable the plant to grow tall quickly.
However, this may take several seasons to grow larger and is good for filling in a small area in your backyard. If you’re looking to plant an immediate screen or fence, then you may plant in closer proximity.
This will affect the plant’s rate of growth, but will not destroy the bamboo itself. If you want a larger, natural and completely full area of bamboo then it is recommended that you plant between 5-10 and sometimes even 20 feet.
This will take approximately 5 years to grow, but when it is finished the end result will be a completely full area.
The Best Soil for Bamboo
During any plant’s infancy, using the correct soil can be one of the more important factors contributing to a long, healthy life. Bamboo flourishes best in soil that provides nutrients as well as proper drainage.
Working garden compost or manure into the soil is another way to help the young life of bamboo by ensuring that the plant receives the nutrients that it requires. The top layer above this mixture should consist of two to four inches of mulch.
This will enable the rhizome to spread with ease while also providing it with the protection and nutrient it needs to survive. However, adding too much mulch will create a desired habitat for rodents and other animals that will feed on the bamboo’s rhizome and destroy the bamboo.
It is important to remember that damaging the rhizome will have adverse affects on the bamboo’s life. Therefore it is important to exercise caution when maintaining this area, especially when raking.
How Many Hours of Sunlight?
After the plant has been established into the ground, routine care must be provided. The amount of water, sun and protection that it receives will help it pass through its early life and reach maturity.
Once the plant has matured completely it will not require as much attention and will grow rapidly on its own.
Bamboo must receive five or more hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis. During the plant’s younger years it is important to consider that too much sun may cause damage to the plant, especially in hotter climates.
If you’re planting in an environment such as this, then it’s recommended that any direct sunlight received during the hottest parts of the day pass through a screen.
This will allow the plant to receive its much needed sunlight, while regulating the intensity. Planters are encouraged to study their bamboo’s growth habits and to adjust the amount of sunlight it is receiving based off how well it is growing and whether or not it is beginning to wither.
How Often Should I Water Bamboo?
Bamboo has the capacity to retain large quantities of water. It is recommended that it is watered only twice a week during its infancy and once a week when it has established itself.
In hotter conditions it is likely necessary to water the plant up to 4 times a week.
This may seem like a sparse amount of water to many, but there is a very important reason behind this. Watering bamboo more than this will not cause the plant to die, but will have different adverse consequences.
As mentioned before, bamboo is considered a grass. Similar to many other grasses, root depth is dependent on available water sources in that environment.
If the bamboo recognizes that it is in an area where there is little water, the roots will dig deeper in search of natural underground water sources. If the bamboo is given an abundance of water during its infancy, the roots will not grow deeply to search for alternative water sources and as a result the strength of the bamboo shoots will be less adequate than desired.
In order for the roots to develop strongly it is encouraged to exercise proper judgment in balancing how much water the bamboo needs to survive verses preventing dependency on an outside water source.
Every plant must be protected from competitive weeds. Outside plants will compete with the bamboo for nutrients and water. This will deprive the bamboo of essential factors that will contribute to a healthy and long lifespan.
Weeds must be recognized and removed if the bamboo is expected to grow. This is an ongoing process when growing any type of plant or grass.
Often times it is encouraged to use weed or plant killers after the removal of a weed in order to prevent it from growing in certain area again.
This may be a good idea with many traditional, stationary plants but it is never wise to use any type of weed or plant killer when uprooting weeds around bamboo because this may halt the expansion of the rhizome and the growth of any future bamboo.
After the bamboo has matured, the grower can enter into a more relaxed maintenance routine. This is when they can begin to prune their bamboo shoots. It is recommended that one prunes their bamboo plant on an annual basis, but gardeners may prune as regularly needed to obtain whatever style they desire.
Removing a live or unsightly shoot of bamboo will not harm the rest of the plant but dead or dying shoots will. It is recommended that such shoots are removed as soon as possible.
Pruning is a good way to shape bamboo stalks into the form that they wish, however if planters are looking to use the bamboo to build a fence or screen then different procedures must be followed.
In order to build a fence using the running-type bamboo, you must dig a trench-like hole with a width greater than two feet. The length of the trench will equal the desired length of the fence.
In order to ensure that the rhizome grows in a straight line, barriers must be erected along the sides of the trench. It is important not to install a barrier along the bottom of the trench because that will prevent the roots from growing deeply, having an adverse effect on the bamboo’s strength.
The barriers must be tough enough to withstand outside weather and prevent the rhizome from passing through it. A tough plastic is recommended. The barrier should extend about two feet below the surface.
The result is that the rhizome will follow the trench and vertical stalks will grow accordingly creating a natural bamboo fence that may be trimmed and pruned to the grower’s preference.
Bamboo plant care is most important when the plant is young. If the plant is able to establish itself successfully within an environment, then it will have a prosperous life.
If done correctly, planters can enjoy the many uses bamboo will provide them with.