Bamboo can add a tropical vibe to any garden, whether you want to create an idyllic getaway or add some Asian charm. However, like any other plant, proper care and maintenance is required in order for it to thrive.
Clumping bamboos spread by underground rhizomes that send up new shoots (known as culms) once a year. Many varieties can be invasive and require root barriers to keep them contained.
Bamboo garden plants come in a wide range of conditions; some prefer dry and hot climates, while others require moist soil.
When planting bamboo plants, incorporate compost or aged manure into the surrounding soil. Doing this will increase nutrient levels and keep your bamboo plants healthy.
The next step is to dig a hole that is 1.5 to twice the size of your bamboo root ball. This will ensure even spacing between each root and enable water drainage when watering your plants.
Once planted, water frequently to ensure the ground is well drained and doesn’t retain pools of moisture. In summer months, you may need to water twice or three times a day in order to keep your bamboo plants growing healthily and vigorously.
Maintaining the aesthetic of bamboo garden plants requires occasional pruning. This includes taking out older culms and trimming back the lower branches of mature bamboo for a neater shape.
If your clumping bamboo is looking scraggly, try clearing it away in the winter. This will revive the plant and give it a refreshed appearance when new growth emerges in springtime.
Another option is to top your bamboo, which involves taking some of the taller, more vigorous-looking stems out of the clump. This creates a symmetrical appearance and allows air into the core of the plant.
If your clump of trees has any errant stems that grow much higher than others, use a pruning saw or handsaw to prune these back to the ground. You may also use bypass hand pruners or lopping pruners for smaller branches.
Bamboo garden plants are voracious eaters and require regular feedings beginning one month after planting. A high quality all purpose plant food such as Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Fee will ensure they thrive.
Bamboo, like most grasses, thrives best when planted in moderately well drained soil. This is especially important if your planting area frequently experiences water runoff.
A thick layer of mulch on top of your soil will help retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing around the roots of your bamboo plant. This can be created using organic material such as compost, leaves, bark or hay.
When planting clumping varieties of bamboo, it is wise to prune off old canes that are no longer producing new shoots. Doing this helps maintain a neat and tidy garden environment. It is especially essential if you plan to divide the clump in spring and replant each division.
Watering is an integral part of caring for your bamboo garden. Different conditions can dictate when and how often you should water your plants, so be sure to adjust according to these needs.
Newly planted bamboos require frequent watering until their roots have fully developed and the rhizomes have taken hold. Once established, you can reduce their water requirements gradually.
Mulch is essential in dry climates or cold winters to retain moisture and insulate your rhizomes. Mulching also shields newly planted bamboos from root rot and other damaging plant diseases.
Harvesting bamboo garden plants at the right time is essential for their long-term wellbeing, and also helps prevent fungi and parasites from attacking them.
Harvest your young culms as soon as they reach four inches tall to avoid damaging their root system and maximize return on investment. Use a sharp spade or knife to cut them roughly six inches below soil level, then reap all of your harvest with minimal effort!
As a general guideline, harvest 20-25% of your culms annually to ensure they mature properly and produce new canes that will keep the grove healthy.
Mature bamboo clumps tend to lose their supply of nutrients and grow more slowly than younger bamboo, but you can compensate for this by mounding some soil around the culms and young shoots each spring to give them additional nourishment.