In this article, we will explain the process behind growing bamboo plants, how to care for them, and where you can find them for sale.
We always get messages from gardening enthusiasts: ‘how do I take care of my bamboo?’, or ‘why is my bamboo turning yellow?’. So we thought we would write a whole article dedicated to this mysterious and fast-growing plant.
Bamboo Plant Varieties
But, broadly speaking, there are two main types of bamboo: the running kind, and the clumping kind. The running kind is an aggressive and invasive plant and generally grows in temperate climates. This type of bamboo tends to grow and spread very quickly.
The clumping kind, on the other hand, normally grows in tropical climates. They tend to clump together – hence the name – and this type is used across the world to make furniture, houses and, in Asia, almost everything you can imagine.
For growing inside your home, you’ll generally want to stick with the clumping kind. Because of its growth speed and its strength, running bamboo can be difficult to grow inside without the right conditions. Still, it’s possible to enjoy the sight of these beauties in your living room or conservatory for several years.
Besides, if you have the space in your garden, it’s possible to grow many varieties of bamboo quite easily. Keep reading to discover some different types of running and clumping bamboo with which you can do just that!
First up is the ‘running bamboo’. Sometimes considered an aggressive pest, this type of bamboo generally grows and spreads the fastest.
It has sometimes been known to take over entire forests! Be careful when growing it in your home. It can take over entire back yards, growing out to the street and pushing up the sidewalk!
This bamboo does this because of the way it grows underground. Running bamboo grows vertical rhizomes which run horizontally underneath the plant. This makes it possible to spread very quickly.
Because of this quality, it can be harvested en masse, but it’s not necessarily the best for your nice tidy garden.
Golden Groove – (Phyllostachys Aureosulcata)
The well known golden (sometimes called yellow) groove bamboo is evergreen, meaning it can be grown at any time of the year. It gets its name from small golden grooves that appear on either side of the cane.
It always seems to grow straight up, meaning that it’s ideal for potted plants or otherwise for creating a hedge. In the Zhejiang province of China, this plant is used for ornamental purposes.
This species of bamboo has been known to grow 3-5 feet every year. Also remember that it is a ‘running bamboo’ and can, therefore, spread aggressively and quickly.
Kuma Bamboo – (Sasa Veitchii)
This one might not look like traditional bamboo, but its actually a variation called Kuma Bamboo.
This type is known as ‘dwarf-bamboo’, growing only to a height of 5 feet, because it grows so low to the ground. Because of this, the Kuma Bamboo can be quite useful if you want to make a low hedge.
It’s a great outdoor plant with beautiful foliage in winter, but remember to keep this one under control if you plant it in your garden!
Red Margin – (Phyllostachys Rubromarginata)
Red margin, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for creating a natural wall because of its height. In its prime, this species of bamboo can grow to as high as 60 feet!
It’s one of the fastest-growing bamboos, and the wood is of superb quality. It’s also very hardy in cold climates, so it doesn’t mind being brought over from China to your backyard!
Next up is the running bamboo’s overly-friendly brother, the clumping bamboo!
Instead of growing in the characteristic ‘runs’ of running bamboo, this type instead clumps together to form a thick, dense bamboo forest.
It doesn’t grow the horizontal rhizomes that we mentioned before, and this makes it more ideal for growing indoors, as well as being less of a nuisance in your garden.
Hedge Bamboo – (Bambusa Multiplex)
Bambusa Multiplex is essentially the father of all other times of hedge bamboo plants.
This particular species can grow up to 35 feet in height, and clumps together to form an impressive wall. It can be used to design a privacy wall or to create a grand looking entryway.
This plant is also very sun-resistant and hardy. This overall makes it the best choice for a hedge, creating a natural fence for your garden. This is a creative way to get yourself some privacy in a natural, stylistic way.
Umbrella Bamboo – (Fargesia Murielae)
Fargesia Murielae, or ‘umbrella bamboo’, was at one point considered the most beautiful type of bamboo in the world. As you can see in the picture above, it can sometimes create perfect cascades over pristine blue waters in its rainforest home!
Clumping together to form a massive, overhanging canopy, this species is certainly a sight to behold. The plant behind with a subtle hint of light blue in the stems, and grows later in life to an aged yellow.
This plant thrives best when it gets some shade throughout the afternoon, and doesn’t need to be cordoned off to stop it from spreading. This makes it a great addition to your garden if you have space.
Giant Japanese Timber – (Phyllostachys Bambusoides)
This versatile fellow, the Japanese timber, actually makes up around 60% of the bamboo harvested for various used in Japan.
It’s the second-largest bamboo grown in temperate climates, and is remarkable for it’s long, straight canes which make it perfect for construction.
But it’s uses don’t stop there. Besides construction, the Japanese timber is famous for its use in making traditional flutes in Japan, as well as digeridoos!
How to Grow Your Bamboo Plant
Obviously, you also need to know how to grow your bamboo plant once you’ve decided on which one to grow. We’re well aware that many of you won’t have the excess garden space to grow entire bamboo forests (who does?!).
Because of that, we want to go into a bit of detail about how to grow your bamboo plants indoors. Below, we’ll first discuss the best indoor bamboo plants.
The Best Indoor Bamboo Plants
For your indoor plants, you’re probably going to want to go with the clumping kind of bamboo we mentioned earlier.
There are a few simple hints and tips that can help your indoor bamboo reach its full potential, but first, here are some examples of bamboo plants that can grow indoors.
Indocalamus Tessellatus – (Large Leaved Bamboo)
Mostly found in China, this little guy is, like the Golden Groove, another evergreen plant. This means that if you keep it indoors with plenty of shade and moist soil, it will retain its green hue all year round.
It’s a hardy plant and can survive in quite rough conditions for a long time, making it quite an easy bamboo plant to grow in your indoor garden.
Keep it in a large container, and eventually, it will start to form dense green thickets of bamboo.
Phyllostachys Nigra – (Black Bamboo)
First brought west around 1827, this beautiful bamboo starts off with yellowy-green canes, but after two years of direct sunlight it takes on a mystical ebony persona.
These plants can spread quickly in the forest and can grow up to 30 feet. However, if you keep it in a container indoors, then you’ll find it will only grow to about a quarter of this. Remember that without this containment this plant, as running bamboo does, may spread quickly and become invasive.
Give it plenty of sunlight, and make sure the soil is consistently moist to give it the best chances of survival.
Dracaena Sanderiana – (Lucky Bamboo)
Although marketed as ‘Lucky Bamboo’, this plant actually comes from the Asparagaceae family. Considering it just grows in water, this makes our ‘Lucky Bamboo’ more akin to a water-lily that the rest of our bamboo plants.
This plant should be placed in a small dish or glass vase with some small stones around the base. Fill with water (try to use distilled or filtered) about 2 inches above the roots.
Remember to change the water, and give it a bit of sunlight every day, and this plant could stay with you for 4 years or more!
‘Lucky Bamboo’, believe it or not, is supposed to bring good luck to your home, and balance out the feng shui of normal everyday life. So keep it alive!
Indoor Bamboo Growing Guide
The most important thing to think about when growing your indoor bamboo plant is water. Because, indoors, they generally have less air circulation and light, it can be quite tempting to overwater them. Look for the tell-tale sign of dead, browny-yellow leaf tips.
Humidity levels are also important. One thing you can do is to give the leaves of your bamboo an occasional misting. Alternatively, you could place your bamboo plant in a pot of gravel and soil, and then put it in a tray of low water. This is a great way to raise the humidity levels of your plant.
Fertilizer is also very important. If you start to see these dying yellow leaves on your bamboo, it might be an idea to add some fertilizer to your plant to give it a new lease for life.
Remember that bamboo plants are really meant to be outside, so they can struggle a bit when you first put them inside.
If the plant seems to be losing leaves or dying when it first comes inside, try giving it some months outside, you’ll be surprised how much difference this can make in its growth.
Bamboo Plant Care
Bamboo is a relatively simple plant to grow, whether that’s indoor or outdoor. However, there are as always some important things to bear in mind when caring for your bamboo plant.
Bamboo Plant Watering
When you first plant your bamboo, you need to water it regularly. Twice a week when normal weather, but maybe five times a week in cases of hot/windy weather.
This is until the bamboo plant reaches a larger size, at which point they can survive with a lot less water. The same goes for flooding/overwatering. Newly planted bamboos are extremely sensitive to this, but once they have reached maturity, they are much more hardy.
It’s still very important to remember not to overwater your plant. You’ll see that the leaves will begin to turn yellow-brown and droopy, in this case, hold back on the water.
Bamboo Plant Soil
A few things you can do to your soil to give your bamboo the best chance of growing well are: make sure the soil is loamy and a bit acidic, use compost or manure around the base of the bamboo’s roots to fertilize and improve drainage, or just mulch the soil heavily.
Still, remember not to use too much fertilizer, as this can be just as bad (or worse!) as no fertilizer.
A good natural way to keep the ground around the bamboo fertile is to avoid sweeping up fallen leaves. These actually keep the soil soft and moist and create the ideal grow-bed for bamboo.
Bamboo Plant Sunlight
The amount of sunlight to give your bamboo varies between different species, shapes, and sizes.
Larger bamboos (Phyllostachys), for instance, can do with about 5 hours of direct sunlight every day. However, when these are new plants, its best to give them a lot of shade throughout the day. This goes especially for smaller varieties of bamboo.
Thamnocalamus and Fargesia, for instance, even when grown, are happier with spending the best part of their day in the shade.
Propagating Your Bamboo Plant
Bamboo plants are grown from Rhizomes, growths underneath the soil that form buds and culms. Propagating basically involves clipping the Rhizome from the parent plant and replanting it before it begins to grow.
This process is different between running and clumping bamboo because they both grow differently.
Running Bamboo Plants
To propagate the running variety of bamboo, wait until spring and dig around the soil to see if there are new buds and rhizomes. The rhizomes are horizontal, with new buds growing on the dividing sections of the bamboo, on which new hollow stems will sprout.
Cut out a section which has buds and culms, but no new growth. Place the taken rhizome in soil; water and mulch thoroughly. Make sure the parent plant has plenty of water and soil around the base.
Clumping Bamboo Plants
For the clumping variety, the process is pretty much the same. The only difference is that you are looking for a clump, one with about four culms and rhizomes with buds, and cutting that away from the plant.
Pull up this clumping part of the bamboo, and place it in soil. Besides this step, the process is the same as it is for running bamboo.
Bamboo Trees and Plants for Sale
When it comes to buying bamboo plants, we’ve picked two of who we consider the best providers.
For seeds, plants, and decorations for housing your bamboo plants, we highly recommend Etsy Creations. They have a wide range of plants and ornaments for making your house a home.
We can also recommend checking out the huge selection of bamboo plants on Amazon, which provides an eclectic mix of different types of bamboos for both your house and garden. Keep reading to discover our favorite bamboo plants.
- 75 seeds
- Autumn and winter bamboo shoots, not long out of the ground, then dig out called bamboo shoots;...
- Most bamboo species like warm and humid climate, rich in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions
Indoor Bamboo Plants
- PERFECT GIFT - Lucky Bamboo is an element of Feng Shui - Giving lucky bamboo as a gift is thought to...
- TOP QUALITY - Our lucky bamboo shoots are taken care of in our own facility and guaranteed to each...
- ENDLESS OPTIONS - With this 4 inch straight pack of 100 stalks, you can place them all in a planter,...
- A great gift for virtually anyone!
- Brings good fortune and better Feng Shui
- Grows indoors for years with little care
Faux Bamboo Plants
- Light and Mobile Design, Over 1000 Leaves, Indoor/Outdoor
- Natural Trunk, PVC Leaves, Variegated 5 inch Pot
- Dimensions: 60 inches x 35 inches x 35 inches
Frequently Asked Questions
Thanks to the messages we get from our readers we always get a lot of positive feedback on our article, and a lot of questions. This is why we created this section for the most asked questions around bamboo plants.
How do I take care of a bamboo plant?
Can bamboo grow in pots?
Yes, you can grow most species of bamboo in pots. However, with many breeds, it can be more complicated than others. As a rule of thumb, running bamboo is generally more difficult to grow in pots than clumping bamboo.
How long does bamboo take to grow?
It varies between different species of bamboo, but your average bamboo plant normally takes about three years to reach maturity.
Where should we keep bamboo at home?
Ideally, you should keep your bamboo plant out of direct sunlight. The east corner of the house is a good place to keep your bamboo plant to achieve this.
Final Thoughts on Bamboo Plants
Overall, we consider bamboo plants to be becoming an incredibly popular feature of gardens everywhere.
They give the feeling of being in the rainforest; in the far-east, surrounded by temples and waterfalls. Who wouldn’t want to bring this feeling to their back yard?
Bamboo comes in many shapes and sizes, but the running and clumping types are the foundation of all bamboo plants. These both have their own uses, but remember, for your purposes, you will mostly want to stick to the clumping kind, as running bamboo is known to be invasive!
Altogether though bamboo is a relatively easy plant to grow. Your greatest challenge is going to be choosing from the huge variety of beautiful plants that are on offer. We hope this article has been of some help in that!
So next time you’re shopping online, or driving past your local garden center, maybe you’ll consider picking up some running bamboo for a natural hedge in your garden, or a lucky bamboo plant to spice up your bedroom.