How to Plant a Running Bamboo

Bamboo can be beautiful and productive. Most bamboos take a long time to get established, and are impossible to move without wiping out the progress they might have made in their previous location. Here are steps toward planting a running type of bamboo where and how it will have the best chance to thrive.


  1. Image titled Plant a Running Bamboo Step 1
    Identify the bamboo you wish to plant. If you haven't chosen one yet, go to your local gardening store to see what would grow best where you live. If you received an unidentified bamboo from a friend, ask bamboo-friendly nurseries or online newsgroups for help in identifying it.
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    Learn the requirements and preferences for the species of bamboo you intend to plant. Bamboos have a wide variety of temperature and sun requirements. Some are more or less tolerant of drought or water saturated conditions. Knowing the needs of your plant is critical to your success in growing it.
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    Consider the water requirements of the bamboo. Bamboos typically like as much water as a healthy lawn. Some, like the giant species, need a bit more. It will make maintenance a lot easier if you put your bamboo near the edge of a stream, or in a location where water is already being handled. However, note that bamboos cannot endure being kept soggy. They will not grow in swamp or other saturated areas. The ideal is to have high drainage soil with frequent watering.
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    Consider the sunlight needs of your bamboo. Almost all bamboos will grow in partial shade, but the largest bamboos will be stunted by a lack of full sun. Other bamboos can be damaged and stunted by too much sun. The sun preference of bamboos is typically rated on a 1 to 5 scale where 1 is full shade and 5 is full sun.
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    Consider the space requirements of your bamboo. Running (leptomorph or monopodial) bamboos need a lot of space. The ideal is to have an area as big around as the plant's typical growing height. For some varieties, this would be 400 square meters of ground! However, the large timber bamboo in one meter squares at the San Francisco airport demonstrates that you can have good results with much less. But to help the bamboo really thrive, try to find 4 square meters of ground for small running bamboo, and 10 square meters for the largest running bamboos.
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    Decide if the bamboo needs to be contained. Running bamboos can be invasive, especially in warm or humid climates. Unless you have a large area that you want it to grow into, see the WikiHow on "How to Control the Spread of Bamboo".
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    Before you start this (or any other) digging project, call 811, A new, federally-mandated national "Dial Before You Dig" number. 811 was created to help protect people from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects.
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    Prepare the soil. It is much more difficult to improve soil once the bamboo is planted. Till the ground and mix in as much organic matter as you can afford. Up to half of the soil can be replaced with peat moss or well composted steer manure. Loosen the soil and add organic material to a depth of 30 to 45cm (12 to 18 inches) if you are able.
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    Dig the hole for the bamboo to go in. Make it about an inch deeper than the soil in the pot it is coming out of.
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    Wet the hole thoroughly. It is okay to make a bit of a soupy mess.
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    Being very careful to avoid damaging any soft new shoots or culms the plant might have, take the plant out of its pot and put it in the hole.
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    If the plant had any culms pointing out in an undesirable direction, it is fine to straighten it up to vertical at this point. Then fill in around the plant, making sure to get firm soil contact with the soil and roots from the pot.
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    Again, being careful not to break any new shoots, press down firmly on the plant to insure good contact in the bottom of the hole. It is okay if the plant ends up a few inches below ground level, as it will self adjust its depth, and being deep at first will give it some additional shelter in its first summer or winter.
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    Make a berm to help direct water to stay around the plant. This should be about twice the diameter of the pot the plant came out of, and 2 to 3 inches high.
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    Fill the berm with mulch. Small bark chips, straw, or grass cuttings make good mulch. However, bark chips usually have a lot less weed seed mixed in with them.
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    Water the bamboo again to help the different soil layers merge together and connect with the roots. But let it get to where it is only damp before watering again. Keeping a bamboo too wet is not good for it, and encourages rot.


  • The best time to plant is in the spring, before any new shoots are very long. This helps in two ways. First, the plant will have a long time to establish itself before Winter comes. Second, new shoots are tender for months, and this will help you avoid damaging them.


  • Running bamboos can be invasive, at least on the scale of the average garden. Pay attention to step 6.
  • Always call 811 before you dig. One call to 811 gets your underground utility lines marked for free--helping save you from damage, injury, and fines. See for details.

Things You'll Need

  • A bamboo plant.
  • A place for a potentially very large plant
  • A shovel
  • Composted steer manure and/or peat moss
  • Soil tilling equipment such as a rotor-tiller or a garden weasel.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Planting and Growing