How to Take Care of Bamboo

Three Parts:Cultivating a Healthy EnvironmentNurturing Your BambooTroubleshooting Bamboo Problems

Bamboo is an elegant plant that can add character to your landscape. It is a relatively hearty plant, and is able to withstand many different climates with just a little care and upkeep on your part. For the best results in your bamboo plants, you'll need to cultivate a bamboo-friendly environment, nurture your plants with the right nutrients, and troubleshoot problems that arise while growing.

Part 1
Cultivating a Healthy Environment

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    Differentiate running and clumping bamboo. These are the two main varieties of bamboo. Many of the procedures you'll use to care for your running or clumping plants will be interchangeable among these two plants, but there are some differences you may want to take into account for aesthetic purposes.
    • Running bamboo has thick canes spaced at regular intervals, much like the stereotypical image of bamboo. Clumping bamboo has thinner canes, a bush-like appearance, and its canes appear to sprout from the same, or nearly the same, location in the ground.
    • Running bamboo makes for a better screen when planted. Unlike clumping bamboo, which has drooping top segments and a narrow base, runners naturally form a screen with straight, vertical stalks.[1]
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    Provide bright, indirect sunlight. If you have already planted your bamboo in an area that receives a lot of direct sunlight, you may want to string up a cloth between bean poles or stakes to offer some shade to the plants. Bamboo naturally grows in areas with partial shade, and giving this to your plants will encourage healthy growth.[2]
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    Add mulch to the soil around your bamboo. Mulch will help protect the roots of your bamboo from sudden changes in weather, like cold snaps.[3] It will also soak up water for the plant during dry periods. Additionally, it will deter weeds from encroaching on your bamboo plants.
    • Spread your mulch carefully around young stalks and newly emerging bamboo. Too much mulch can damage the plant or make it difficult to grow.
    • You can spread mulch freely around the stalks of heartier, more established plants. Leave about an inch (2.5 cm) of free space around your stalks so the roots receive enough airflow.[4]
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    Trim your shoots. You won't likely need to trim your bamboo until it has grown for a few years and filled in with leaves. Trimming will help your other plants receive more adequate sunlight. This will also remove growths that are unsightly or less healthy, encouraging the overall health and appearance of your plant.
    • When trimming, you should prioritize branches that look dead, sick, or weak. Most bamboo can be pruned without fear of harming the plant, so you should trim freely to achieve the look you desire in your bamboo.[5]
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    Control the root growth of running bamboo. The roots of your running bamboo can easily grow out of control if you're not careful. If your bamboo is growing in an open area, this might not be a problem, however you can easily prevent the roots of your running bamboo from becoming invasive by trimming the roots.
    • Set a boundary for the roots of your bamboo plant and then dig a narrow trench on that boundary about 1 foot (.3 m) deep. Trim or sever any roots that you find in this trench, and check it regularly for new root growths.
    • Trimming the roots of your running bamboo will not harm the plant. These roots can usually be found roughly 5 inches (12.7 cm) deep in the soil.[6]

Part 2
Nurturing Your Bamboo

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    Water your bamboo according to season. The most active season for bamboo growth is spring, so you should begin watering in late winter or early spring. Watering should be done on a weekly basis, and you should continue this watering schedule throughout the summer months.[7]
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    Water with moderation. If you are growing your bamboo in loamy soil that drains well, you won't likely have issues with watering. Even so, the best environment for your bamboo to grow in will be moist, without being saturated or dry.[8]
    • You'll be able to tell if your bamboo is not receiving enough water by the curl of its leaves. If you notice leaf curl, continue your watering schedule, adding water in small increments until the leaves relax.
    • Some types of bamboo will also suffer from leaf curl in overly sunny environments. If you add water to your routine and notice no difference in the leaf curl, this could be an indication your plants are getting too much sun.[9]
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    Maintain the water level of submerged bamboo. For plants that are grown in water, you'll want to make sure that the water level completely covers the roots of your plants and maintains a depth of a few inches (5 - 7 cm). To prevent disease, algae growth, and other issues that arise from stagnant water, you should drain and refill the water of your bamboo every few weeks.[10]
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    Fertilize your bamboo. Fertilizing your bamboo will guarantee it has the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong. Fertilizing is especially important if your soil is low in phosphorous, nitrogen, or potassium. These three substances are vital for healthy, strong bamboo.[11]
    • You should add fertilizer to the soil surrounding your bamboo in early spring or late winter. This will ensure your plants have the nutrients needed for spring, which is the most active time for bamboo growth.
    • If your soil is poor in phosphorous, nitrogen, or potassium, you may need to add small amount of fertilizer periodically throughout the year. You should avoid fertilizing the area around your plants in winter.
    • Bamboo grown in water will need to be fertilized every few months with a water soluble plant fertilizer. You may want to coordinate your water changing cycles with your fertilizing.[12]
    • You might want to consider using grass/lawn fertilizer for your bamboo plants. This will be widely available at home and gardening stores, and will provide your bamboo with the food it needs.[13]

Part 3
Troubleshooting Bamboo Problems

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    Notice root rot when it occurs. Root rot can happen if you use too much fertilizer or water your plants excessively. You can tell when a plant has root rot by the brown, soft quality at the base of the stalks. When you see this in your plants, cut off the healthy tips and replant these elsewhere.[14]
    • When cutting the healthy parts of your bamboo, try to include two or three leaf-nodes per section. These nodes can be found by looking for a thickening of the stalk. In some cases, these will have offshoots.
    • Be sure to moderate your watering and fertilizing after this! Root rotted plants can be salvaged, but by moderating your plant care, you can avoid this entirely.[15]
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    Cleanse mites from your plants. These kinds of bugs won't be a problem for your bamboo plants too often, but if you notice a white substance on the stalks of your plants that is sticky, cottony, web-like material, or irregular growths that are shaped like a snail, you may have scale or spider mites![16]
    • If your bamboo is in a container, you'll need to clean it out with a mild soap. If your potted bamboo is growing in pebbles, wash these in the same fashion. If you're using soil, this should be replaced.
    • Wipe down each of your plants using a rag dampened with soapy water. A few drops of dish detergent should do the trick. Be gentle while wiping to prevent damage to the stalk, and rinse the plant completely when you are finished.[17]
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    Remedy brown tipped leaves. One of the most common causes of this is fluoride burn, which can especially be a problem if you live in an urban environment. The fluoride added to your water supply can cause the tips of your bamboo leaves to turn brown, though this can also be an indication that the air is too dry for your plants.[18]
    • Use distilled water or collected rainwater for your plants for cases of fluoride burn. You might leave a bucket or kiddie pool outside to catch rainwater, or you could build a rainwater collection system.
    • Dry air can be an issue for your bamboo if you live in an arid or semi-arid region. However, you can restore your bamboo leaves in the dryness by misting your plants daily or every few days in semi-arid climates.[19]
    • You can also wipe down the bamboo leaves with mayonnaise and then wipe the mayonnaise off to give your leaves a fresh shine.
  4. 4
    Carefully dust the leaves of your bamboo plant to help keep them alive and thriving.


  • Some types of bamboo can be highly invasive in certain climates. Consider reading up on bamboo before planting if you think this might be a problem for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo plant
  • Mulch
  • Nitrogen rich fertilizer
  • Pruning sheer
  • Shovel (for root trimming)
  • Water

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