Bamboo is an incredibly easy-to-grow plant, but it takes care and precision to get it started, and there are a few things you should know along the way. Follow these quick tips to plant and grow cold-hardy running bamboo on your property!
1) Selecting Your Bamboo: The best way to get started is to choose a small clump of bamboo from a nearby grove. This bamboo should have already adapted to the area’s climate and soil type, and is therefore more prepared to grow on your land. You want a somewhat separated cane that is found on the outside of the grove. Look for a small, individual cane so you can isolate the rhizome.
2) Cutting the Rhizome: If you want your bamboo to grow and spread, be sure to include part of the underground rhizome when you take a piece of the grove. Without the rhizome, the bamboo will most likely continue to live and thrive, but it will not grow and spread. Some sources say you can use a small piece of the rhizome, but this growing process is generally slower and not quite as successful. It is important to cut the rhizome without damaging it, so you will need a shovel and a saw or pruning spears. As you’re digging out the bamboo shoot, your shovel will hit the rhizome in a variety of places. Just cut wherever your shovel hits.
3) Digging out the Root ball: Once you’ve been able to cut off the rhizomes, you should have a sort of ball of bamboo roots. Make sure you circle the plant with a shovel, digging at least 6-8 inches deep in order to cut all of the rhizomes. Bamboo has a very shallow root ball, since it has a group of sideways-growing rhizomes to help. At this point you should be able to pop out the entire plant, using your shovel as leverage.
4) Pruning the Plant: Once out of the ground, prune about ¼ off the top of the plant. With fewer roots, it’s easy for plants to begin the dying process as soon as they are removed from the ground, and this simple pruning will help prevent wilting as you prepare to re-plant your bamboo. Be sure to keep watering the root ball, and plant it as soon as possible.
5) Preparing the Plot: Be sure to consider sunlight and water irrigation when selecting your plot of land. Make sure your soil is ready to take in the plant, as it is very difficult to create healthy soil after you’ve already planted. Till the ground, add organic matter, and make sure the soil is loose. Dig a shallow hole slightly larger and deeper than the root ball, and then wet the area quite a bit before planting.
6) Planting the Bamboo: This is the easiest part! Just place the root ball in the hole you’ve created and fill it with healthy, nutrient-dense topsoil, compost, or organic material. You can top this area with mulch, leaves, straw, or wood chips to help water retention. That’s all there is to it!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the difference between running and clumping bamboo?
Clumping bamboo grows similar to a bush in that it starts in one place and just grows up and outwards, remaining clumped together at the bottom. Running bamboo has rhizome roots that grow vertically, then shoot horizontally out. This means running bamboo can spread several meters around the original plant.
Can I grow bamboo in my climate?
Bamboo grows in just about every climate; in fact, it is naturally found on every continent except Antartica. Almost all cold hardy bamboos are of the running variety, while just about all species of tropical bamboos are clumpers.
How much water is needed?
The water requirements vary by species, but bamboo is a relatively drought-resistant plant, meaning it doesn’t require much water. You want the area around your bamboo to be relatively dry, as wet roots can rot underground. Once the bamboo is growing well on its own, watering is normally not necessary unless you have unusual dry spells in your area.
What about pesticides?
Bamboo does NOT need any type of pesticides, which is why it is one of the greenest plants around. You should not need any chemicals at all to grow your bamboo.
Should I use fertilizer?
Bamboo can grow really well in just about any type of soil, but will grow faster when fed organic compost or 8-8-8- fertilizer.
When should I plant my bamboo?
The best time to plant running bamboo is during the coldest months of winter, but you can transplant any time during the summer or fall as well. Avoid transplanting bamboo during the spring months, as this is when new bamboo shoots are emerging.