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Taking care of bamboo, how do you do it?

Bamboo is a popular plant to both refresh indoor interiors and make the garden more vibrant. In fact, the plant stays green all year long, provided it receives proper care. The thousand-year-old supergrass is even said to have miraculous powers that remove negative energy from the environment. According to Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, having a bamboo plant ensures wealth, health and happiness. In addition, bamboo has a cooling effect and acts as a natural air conditioner for the immediate environment. Global warming means hotter and hotter summers, but this plant can lower temperatures by as much as eight degrees in both the garden and dense rooms. Good reasons to purchase your own bamboo, but how do you actually maintain it? Bamboo plant care, fortunately, is not as difficult as it seems.

How do I plant my bamboo?

Bamboo comes in different shapes and sizes. There are as many as 1000 bamboo species ! The new environment of the bamboo plant determines the care as there is a big difference between indoor and outdoor. This includes paying attention to the variety of bamboo, because before you know it, an entire bamboo forest will be growing in the garden. How the bamboo is planted affects much of the life of the supergrass.

Outdoor Bamboo

It is best to plant the bamboo between February and early fall in a spot in the garden where it is not too damp. If the soil is too wet, there is a good chance that the roots will rot. When planting bamboo, it is important to dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball. In fact, the supergrass likes space. The root ball should be dipped in water briefly before placement and can then be placed in the ground as is. The hole is then filled with organic material such as wood chips or fallen leaves. After that, the new bamboo plant may be watered heavily so that all the air pockets around the root ball disappear. In the first week, grass is extra thirsty, so it is important to water it daily. After that, watering every 2 to 3 days is sufficient, depending on the plant’s location and how much sunlight the bamboo gets. Outdoor bamboo plant care is often mostly automatic because nature lends a big hand.

If the bamboo is not placed directly in garden soil, but in a planter, hydro pellets should first be sprinkled at the bottom of the pot. This distributes the water more evenly and allows excess water to be reabsorbed. This way there is a smaller chance that the roots of the bamboo can rot. Furthermore, the planter can be filled with normal potting soil and adequate watering is crucial during the initial period. It is best to choose medium or low-growing potted bamboo, as it does not grow as fast as its peers.

proliferating vs. Non-growing bamboo

Before the new bamboo plant can be purchased for the garden, one must be aware of the different types of bamboo out there. Indeed, the grass is notorious for its aggressive growth that can provoke many a neighborly quarrel, but not all. The method of growth determines the difference between proliferating and non-proliferating bamboo. Non-weedy bamboo forms new shoots through a single tussock, concentrating on even growth. In contrast, proliferating bamboos are known to grow and expand rapidly in the garden due to their underground shoots. The roots often multiply uncontrollably and can oppress other plants. This is because this bamboo forms underground root shoots (rhizomes) that burrow horizontally through the soil and grow new bamboo shoots there. For example, a new sprite may suddenly appear two meters next to the original bamboo plant. Therefore, with a small garden, rampant bamboo is not a good idea. However, you can limit the roots of this species with a root limiter. This is dug at least 65 centimeters deep into the ground around the root ball of the supergrass, it forms a fence, so to speak, for the territory where only the bamboo is allowed to grow. This way you will prevent a bamboo invasion in the garden. So always inquire with the seller about which bamboo species is involved. Would you prefer to place the bamboo outdoors in a pot? Then it’s best to choose a non-growing bamboo species, such as the Fargesia. There, there is little chance that the pot will crack because of the strong roots.

Indoor Bamboo

Bamboo also shines in indoor spaces and is an easy plant to maintain. Often this bamboo species is kept in a small bunch of stems that have small roots at the ends, also called lucky bamboo. In fact, having a mature bamboo shrub with root ball is more difficult indoors because of low humidity and lack of light and space. The lucky bamboo is therefore a good intermediate solution. This one is a real water lover and is at home in a lot of water, unlike the outdoor bamboo. The loose stems look beautiful in a, say, translucent vase allowing you to see the growth process. A layer of at least 5 inches of pebbles or gravel is placed at the bottom of the vase so that the plant can stand upright properly, depending on the size of the stems. Then the pot is filled with water to just slightly above the stone layer. Bamboo is said to increase oxygen levels in rooms and can even filter air. Prefer a bamboo bush in a pot? Having a rootballed bamboo crop is unfortunately more difficult indoors because the humidity is often too low. So in this case, always make sure this content is at least 50 percent.

Help! My bamboo gets yellow leaves

Not to be alarmed, there is a good chance that the bamboo will get some yellow leaves in the fall. A very natural process, as with many other tree and grass species that begin shedding leaves at the end of summer in preparation for the winter season. The number of yellow leaves depends on the size and species of the bamboo. In fact, young bamboo is somewhat less affected by leaf fall. Still, it is important to examine the plant further when the leaves turn color in other seasons such as winter, summer or spring.

First, flooding could be a cause for the sudden change in color. Bamboo loves water tremendously, but too much pouring can cause the hair roots to be submerged for a long time, depriving them of oxygen. This can cause the sensitive roots to die. Therefore, it is important to dig out the bamboo with root ball and all so that the roots can dry. If it is an outdoor bamboo, the soil around the roots can be loosened so that the branching can get air and regain its breath.

Another possible cause for yellow leaves is chlorosis. A tricky word, but it means nothing more than a deficiency in nutrients such as iron, magnesium or nitrogen. Buying appropriate bamboo food can be a solution to revive the supergrass and make it beautifully green. Even bamboo sometimes needs super foods and likes to have a treat! Feel free to leave the fallen leaves around the bamboo plant, as the leaves still contain nutrients that the soil will absorb. It serves as a self-sustaining compost, so to speak. Bamboo is sustainable!
Indoor bamboo can also suffer from yellow leaves. Often this is because the water in the pot or vase is no longer healthy for the plant. Therefore, it is important to remove the lucky bamboo from the pebbly soil and change the entire water. If the tap water contains a lot of chlorine or fluoride, it is best to choose bottled or filtered water since it has less salt and more minerals. The bamboo notices when the room becomes too dry, even then the leaves may turn yellow. Higher humidity levels are therefore desirable, especially in the winter months when the heating comes back on inside. A bowl of water on the heater does wonders for the bamboo! The water will evaporate from the heat, automatically making the air more humid. When the top of the bamboo stem is dying and turning dark yellow, it is best to cut off the dead piece of bamboo. This will allow the rest of the plant to recover and the bamboo will grow back nicely.

How do I maintain my bamboo?

Bamboo is fortunately an easy plant in terms of care and is not demanding. Mainly, adequate watering makes the plant happy. Occasionally removing aging culms and leaves will do the bamboo good, as will a haircut. Still, it is important to be well informed about which bamboo species is purchased. Each bamboo has its own character and with that comes its own manual. But in general, the basic rules listed here apply to any bamboo crop and its bamboo maintenance. Flowering of bamboo is very irregular and varies by species. However, the chances that your bamboo will bloom are very small. It can take up to 120 years for grass to enter a flowering period! Pruning the bamboo is often not necessary. The bamboo plant naturally drops leaves that have died. Pruning is therefore common only when the bamboo needs to look a little fresher.


Sunlight plays a major role in the life of the bamboo plant. Too much direct sunlight does not make the supergrass happy and can cause leaf loss. The indoor bamboo plant can sometimes be a bit picky with which spot in the room it likes best. Putting the bamboo in different places can help you figure out where the plant prefers to call home. Preferably though in a bright spot close to the window. Outdoor bamboo, on the other hand, is less picky with sunlight and especially needs lots of water. In fact, moving a mature bamboo bush in the garden is a bit more difficult. If the outdoor bamboo lives in a pot and develops yellow leaves, putting it in partial shade may help. That way, the supergrass can heal from excess sunlight.

Does bamboo need a lot of water?

The green supergrass can do just fine without water for a short time and will survive drier periods. Bamboo communicates through its leaves when it is thirsty by curling up its leaves. When the plant has not been watered for too long, it drops some leaves so that the rest of the plant remains sufficiently hydrated, a true sacrifice in other words. Nevertheless, care must be taken to ensure that the bamboo has a constantly moist surface. Bamboo watering should be done especially in the summer because the bamboo plant is extra thirsty then. The soil should never dry out completely, otherwise there is a danger that the bamboo plant will die.

And which food is best?

Outdoor bamboo loves fertilization! Therefore, some extra bamboo fertilizer in especially the summer and spring months can’t hurt. Spring is the best time to boost supergrass because this is the growing season for the plant. Organic manure such as cow manure pellets works fine for bamboo, just make sure the phosphate content in this is low. Nitrogen fertilizers encourage healthy growth and help the plant recover after the cold winter season. All in all, the NPK rule applies to fertilizer products because they are the nutrients necessary for healthy plants. Manure should be high in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), so when in doubt always read the label on the manure package. Fertilizing 3 to 4 times a year is sufficient for supergrass. Depending on the size of the bamboo, a handful to a scoop of manure is spread between the grass stalks and topped off with water. For the indoor lucky bamboo , manure is not necessary, of course, since it only stands in water and gravel all year.

Aphid! Now what?

The bamboo is a strong plant that suffers little from pests and other outside ailments. However, sometimes aphids from other plants may spill over to the supergrass. Especially when the plant is not in its “skin” for a while, it is more susceptible to uninvited guests. Don’t worry, aphids are not harmful to the growing process and with proper care and plenty of water, aphids often disappear on their own. Often a hard jet of water is enough to wash away the aphids, or put the pot with the bamboo in the rain overnight. If the aphids are persistent, you can choose to deploy natural enemies (ladybugs, for example) that eat the unwanted insects.