One of the loveliest views in the garden is the gently swaying bamboo; the long canes giving structure and height to the dancing leaves that generate a soft, therapeutic swishing in the breeze.
Bamboo can be used to create screening, add height to a border, create a focal point or simply pop in a container on a balcony. The good news is bamboo can be grown in almost any conditions, simply follow our guide on the different ways to grow bamboo.
There are two main types of bamboo plants, clump forming (grows in tight clumps) and running bamboos, which produce long underground stems, that pop up away from the main plant and will spread anywhere if not contained. You can do this in a couple of different ways:
The easiest (and quickest) way to grow bamboo, is in a very large container and then sink the container into the ground, leaving just the top lip over the surface of the soil. This will ensure that the bamboo only grows to the size of the container and doesn’t spread beyond. However, this is only advisable if you are planting a small area, perhaps as a focal point or to add a little height to a border.
For a larger area, if you are creating a hedge or screen, it is best to dig a trench that is between 2 and 4 feet deep, which runs along the area you want the bamboo to grow. It should curve at each end into a C shape. This trench should be lined with an impenetrable material (something like paving slabs, corrugated iron or a specific root barrier fabric) leaving 2 or 3 inches over the surface of the soil. Fill the trench, compacting the soil well, then you are ready to plant the bamboos. Dig a second trench about 1 to 2 feet in front of the plants to the same depth, this will become your maintenance trench.
To plant the bamboo into the ground, dig a hole that is twice the size of the root mass. Mix a little compost into the base of the hole before placing the bamboo, so that the root mass sits level with the ground surface. Mix the soil with more compost and then fill. Add a little more of the compost over the top of the bamboo and water in well.
Bamboos require high levels of nitrogen to maximise their growing potential and it is best to fertilise the plants in early spring and again mid-late summer.
Keep your bamboo healthy, by regular removal of dead matter from the canes and around the base, this will then create a good circulation of air.
To ensure that the bamboo doesn’t invade the rest of the garden, carry out regular root maintenance, this is made easier if you have followed the tips for planting with a restrictive trench. The trench to the front of the bamboo plant allows you to see the growth of any new rhizomes, which should then be severed with a sharp shovel or clippers. If you haven’t created a trench, dig down around the designated area, at the end of each growing period with a sharp shovel and remove any stray roots.
There are many different varieties of bamboo, but all will thrive when planted in well-drained soil, some prefer shelter, others are not so fussy, there is sure to be a variety that suits your plans. Why not visit our Bamboo page to find out about the different varieties.