Your Guide to Planting Bamboo!
Bamboo is an extraordinary plant. It is quite rigorous and sturdy; however, there are things you can do to optimize its growth. Here are some of things we do when growing or installing bamboo that could help you maintain a healthy bamboo hedge.
Barrier: for Containment and Maintenance
Although bamboo will be at its healthiest when it is allowed to roam free, this is usually not optimal for most practical situations. Thus, we usually install a polyethene barrier, which is flexible yet sturdy, to prevent unwanted growth and to keep the bamboo at a manageable size. The barrier is put around the bamboo 27 inches into the ground, leaving 3 inches of the barrier on top to prevent rhizomes from going over it. We also slant the top of the barrier 10 to 15 degrees away from the bamboo canes and shoots, which along with the depth of the barrier discourages the rhizomes from going underneath the barrier. We do not put any barrier underneath the bamboo as the depth and angle already discourage rhizomes from escaping underneath the barrier and this also allows water to drain.
Planting and Spacing: The Shooting Process
Often, new bamboo growers have the expectation that when bamboo is installed, the hedge of bamboo is instantly bushy and will act as a perfect screen. This look can theoretically be achieved, but at a cost. Usually bamboo rhizomes need about 3 feet of space between themselves and other rhizomes. This is desirable because the rhizomes are undergoing a somewhat stressful time as they are being transplanted or propagated, and thus they need some space in order to reduce the stress and establish themselves in the new environment. Additionally, giving the rhizomes space allows for larger, healthier growth, which most people prefer in the long run as the larger bamboo canes typically outshine the little, scraggly canes.
What people don't usually understand is that bamboo only grows when it is shooting. Once the shooting stops and it leafs, the growing has stopped. Thus, its all about encouraging those large shoots to start emerging during the shooting season, i.e. spring for runners, summer for clumpers.
Water: Bamboo's Best Friend
It's no secret that Bamboo is fond of wet climates. Indeed, many Bamboo growth problems can be fixed by simply watering at a more consistent rate. The only thing that Bamboo doesn't like about water is when its rhizome is completely submerged in it (it will drown unless it is a specific type of bamboo called Water Bamboo). Otherwise in most circumstances, the more water, the better. Feel free to soak the ground around the rhizomes as long as the soil is able to drain.
Bamboo is a grass. Thus, like most grasses, bamboo will look more luscious and colorful when it has access to a good amount of water. We water our bamboo every other day; however, if the bamboo has just been propagated, i.e. the canes and roots were dug up and/or moved, or the bamboo is looking unhealthy, we recommend watering everyday for at least two weeks. Once it establishes itself or recovers, you can continue to water every other day.
Thin, Trim, Fertilize: For that Great Bamboo Look!
At Bamboo Giant, we take care of our hedges, by cutting out unwanted canes, whether small, dead, or otherwise, taking out any weeds close to the bamboo, and by fertilizing the bamboo.
We usually prioritize taking out small or dead canes as this diverts the rhizome's energy into big, healthy canes. Additionally, this can relieve stress to the bamboo if it is struggling, and can promote fuller leafage.
We recommend fertilizing the bamboo every six months; however, we do not recommend fertilizing the bamboo if it has recently been propagated or transplanted. If you have recently planted bamboo, wait four months before fertilizing!
Bamboo likes fertilizer and soil that has a higher nitrogen concentration, so look for nitrogen rich fertilizer for your bamboo!