Bamboo Planting Guide

How to Care for your Bamboo Plants

Bamboo must be given ample water, fertilizer (organic rotted animal manure does particularly well), and protection from competitive weeds if it to become established quickly. Some initial protection may be required, depending on the site, so that your plant gets off to the best possible start (drying winter winds may do initial damage until the plant is established).

Planting New Bamboos

Bamboos are happiest in a soft friable soil. If your existing garden soil is heavy you should add good quality organic material. Dig the material into the soil where the bamboo is to be planted and spread 2 or more inches of mulch in the area immediately around the bamboo where you want it to grow. Bamboo is a tight clumping plant and is naturally mulched in the wild by its own falling leaves, keeping a mulch over the roots and rhizomes. As such it is best not to rake or sweep up the bamboo leaves from under the plant as they keep the soil soft. A low growing, shade tolerant, groundcover plant that will allow the leaves to fall through to form a mulch without being visible, will work if you find the dry leaf mulch objectionable. Almost any organic material makes a good mulch. We personally use well rotted animal manure however we would stress that you need to be vigilant for any new emerging weeds. Should you not have the luxury of a great deal of time, a good layer of bark mulch or chipped tree branches should be used instead.

Winter protection

Bamboo should be planted outdoors early enough to become established in their new position and be allowed to harden off sufficiently to survive their first winter. If the bamboo is planted late in the year, a good layer of mulch should be laid to provide extra protection from any cold and drying winds.

Yellowing and falling leaves

In the spring there may occasionally be considerable yellowing of the leaves, followed by leaf drop. This is natural and should not cause concern, as bamboos are evergreen and naturally renew their leaves in the spring. They should lose their leaves gradually as they are replaced by fresh new ones. In the spring on a healthy bamboo there should be a mixture of green leaves, yellow leaves and newly unfurling leaves. Remember, any leaf drop acts as an ideal natural mulch and should not be tidied up at any time.


Newly planted bamboos require huge volumes of water when planted initially. If it is particularly hot or windy then daily watering would be advantageous during the first growing season. Once a bamboo has reached the desired size, it can survive with much less watering and will eventually require very little at all. But until then you must water-and-fertilize copiously to achieve optimum growth. Well established bamboos are rather tolerant of flooding, but newly planted bamboos can suffer from too much as well as too little water.

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