About Bamboo Plants

How Bamboo Plants Grow

Bamboo plants produce new canes (culms) in the Spring. These shoots emerge out of the ground and grow in height and diameter for approx 60 days, although this can vary for each species. During this growing period it will produce new limbs and leaves.

After the period of growth, the new bamboo canes do not grow in height or diameter again. It will put on new foliage every year, and typically a cane will last for 10 years.

The bamboo plant is actually a member of the grass family and is classified as a colony plant. It uses energy from the existing plant to produce more plants the next year increasing the size of the colony. The new plants will grow in the same manner. New shoots emerge to turn into a cane with limbs and leaves within approximately a 60 day period.

It takes a bamboo plant about four full years after planting to become established. Once established the new shoots still emerge in the Spring and they will continue to get thicker and more numerous from year to year. It takes a varying number of years (4-10) for different species to reach their maximum size. This is dependent on species selection, soil, sunlight, climate and watering conditions.  This illustration shows  the typical growth pattern for a fast growing 4-5m high bamboo plant assuming good watering and feeding regime and being planted in the open ground (not a pot).

Annual Growth


The Bamboo plant is a noble plant - both gracious and hard working

No matter what their size, all bamboo plants are decorative, graceful plants. They have so many different characteristics from their pointed, rustling leaves, their decorative culms (canes) with raised nodes and an amazing array of colours - some can be pale honey, warm yellow, bright green, dark green, dusty blue, deep crimson, near-purple and sophisticated black. Many are striped and some are spotted like leopard skin.

What's more, the main reasons we love bamboo, they are evergreen, frost-resistant - and largely untroubled by pests and diseases. They can be grown as dramatic, solitary specimens, in combination with other plants, as groundcover or even as a hedge.

Bamboos are native to all the major continents, except for Europe, but most of those in cultivation come from China & Japan. In Chinese philosophy, the bamboo symbolises longevity, durability and endurance, and is one of "The Four Gentlemen of the Garden", along with the orchid, plum blossom and the chrysanthemum.

Is bamboo really hardy enough to survive in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

This is the main area of concern for people who want to have bamboo in their garden - will it survive the harsh winters in the UK, especially those we get north of the border in Scotland (here in Aberdeenshire we have seen temperatures plummet as low as -15 degrees centigrade)? The real answer to this question is that each species of bamboo has its own limits for tolerating conditions such as heat, cold, drought and wind. Scottish Bamboo, however, only sell bamboo proven to survive in cold climates where temperatures can reach well below -15 degrees C. In fact many of the bamboos we sell will survive to extremes such as -25 degrees C. Within the description of each bamboo listed on our website, the hardiness rating will be given.

Other common myths about bamboo explained:

Is bamboo evergreen? Yes, bamboo plants are evergreen, they don't lose their leaves during the autumn and winter months. Leaf loss only very rarely happens and is usually a sign the plant is distressed i.e. requires more water or pot bound.

Will bamboo take over my garden? Most varities of bamboo grown in the UK are reasonably well behaved and grow by forming clumps. There are spreading varieties however these can be easily contained by the use of root barriers or by cutting away any unwanted culms as they appear through the ground.

DID YOU KNOW? - Amazing Facts About Bamboo

Helps Reverse Global Warming: Incredible and true, bamboo produces the MOST OXYGEN of all the plants! And it consumes more carbon dioxide than any other plant.

Sustainably Harvested & Annually Renewable: Mature bamboos produce new shoots and canes each year, which can be harvested individually without destroying the plant.

Fastest Growing Plant on the Planet: New shoots of some species have been recorded to grow up to 4 feet per day in their shooting season! (this is highly unlikely in Scotland or the rest of the UK).

Environmental Cleanup: Bamboo plants are very effective at removing metals and other toxic substances from soils and water.

Diverse: There are over 1500 species of bamboo in the world.

Stronger Than Steel: Bamboo has a Tensile strength of 28,000 per square inch, vs. 23,000 for steel - amazing!.

Provides Safe Housing: Over 1 billion people in the world live in bamboo houses. Bamboo buildings have even proven to be earthquake proof.

Nutrition for Humans and Animals: Bamboo shoots have been eaten throughout Asia for centuries, and branches and leaves make good fodder for animals. It contains Germanium, which reverses the aging process in cells.

Ancient Healing: Various parts of many bamboo species have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.

Did You Know? Thomas Edison used bamboo filaments in his first light bulbs, and apparently one of those bulbs is still burning today in Washington, DC!

Hardy: Bamboo was the first plant life to return after the atomic bombings in Japan. Also, some bamboos are cold hardy to minus 30 degrees celcius

Bamboo is Environmentally Friendly & Sustainable

There is no plant that combats global warming like bamboo does. Bamboo minimises CO2 emissions and generates up to 35% more oxygen than any other stand of trees.

Bamboo removes CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis by using carbon as an energy source and converting it into plant tissue which releases oxygen (O2) as a by-product.

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