Most people already know that bamboo is a beautiful, exotic plant that comes in a variety of colors to brighten up the landscape. However, bamboo is also associated with being an invasive plant that can quickly take over an area. Today we are setting out to spread the facts about
bamboo that people don’t know. For example, not all bamboo varieties are invasive and can be easily controlled. Also, bamboo is extremely easy to care for and grows very well in containers as the perfect houseplant.
What is Bamboo?
Bamboo is actually a fast growing type of woody grass that is often mistaken for a tree. It has hollow shoots that grow straight upwards and produce leaves. It’s the largest member of the grass family and is considered to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world. There are over 1,000 different types of bamboo, so there is a pretty high chance that you’ll find the perfect variety for your landscape.
Why Plant Bamboo?
Bamboo comes in a variety of different colors with their stalks ranging from reds and yellows to light and dark greens. Add a few stalks here and there in your landscape as accent pieces or as the center of attention for an explosion of color.
A few varieties of bamboo have a growth rate of 10 or more feet per year and with the ability to spring up and block your neighbor’s view of your yard and home in the blink of an eye.
If planted in rows bamboo makes for an attractive hedge that can easily be kept at a certain height. You don’t have to worry about hurting your bamboo if you prune it because it’s quick to regenerate.
When planted in groups bamboo prevents soil erosion on slopes and hills. The regenerative properties of bamboo allows it to be used as an ecofriendly resource for making paper, food, furniture, homes and more.
If you have limited space or have the desire to bring bamboo inside your home, don’t hesitate. Simply place it in a container. Potted bamboo looks excellent on porches, patios and as indoor décor. Not only will bamboo flourish in low light conditions inside but it will also bring fresh air, peace, and luck.
But How To Stop The Spreading?
Running bamboo plants are the varieties that can spread out over large areas. They have roots called rhizomes that spread out horizontally from the root system and produce new shoots. The rhizomes stay close to the surface and can be found about 10 to 12 inches below the soil line.
One way to stop running bamboo is to get a clumping bamboo variety. Clumping bamboo doesn’t send out rhizome roots. Instead of spreading out over several feet they get a few inches wider. Clumping bamboo tends to have a faster growing rate because it grows taller instead of spreading outwards.
However, what if you like the look of a running bamboo, and you would like to keep it controlled in your yard? There are a number of solutions when it comes to easily maintaining running bamboos. For example you can plant running bamboo in a container to keep inside or out. To make a privacy fence you can plant bamboo in a long container or multiple containers side by side. The bamboo will still fill in to form a solid living wall.
In the ground you can maintain running bamboo by mowing around the edges of its planting location. It will not harm the plant or the mower to ride over new shoots.
Another option would be to dig a trench around your bamboo that is about 10 to 12 inches deep. The bamboo roots that spread stay close to the surface, and you’ll be able to see them poking through the sides of trench. When you see them cut them with a pair of hand pruners, loppers, or a sharp shovel.
If you don’t want a small trench that’s constantly open in your yard fill it with sand. Once or twice a year take a sharp shovel or spade and send it through the sand to cut any running roots. Instead of filling the trench with sand you can place a solid material like high density plastic in the trench around your bamboo. You can fully enclose it with this material or leave one or more sides open. The runners won’t grow past this barrier. Once you’ve placed the barrier in the trench you can back fill it in with soil.
A common solution would be to plant your bamboo in a raised planting bed that’s surrounded by walls or cement.
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How To Take Care of Bamboo?
Bamboo is often the go to plant for something that is low maintenance and fuss free. They are perfect for beginners if planted indoor or out.
Plant your bamboo in an area that receives full to partial sunlight. Bamboo will grow in a variety of different lighting conditions. Bamboo will grow the fastest in full sun, but young plants may need protection from the harsh summer heat if planted during the summer months.
Your bamboo will adapt to your natural soil even if it’s sandy or heavy in clay as long as it drains well. Make sure that your bamboo gets about an inch of water per week, either from rainfall or by hand. By adding a 3 inch layer of mulch around your bamboo you’ll help the soil retain moisture and nutrients.
Every year in the early spring give your bamboo a little well balanced, organic fertilizer like formula 10-10-10.
If you plan to keep your bamboo in a container make sure that it has drainage holes at the bottom. Water your potted plant until you see liquid draining from the bottom of the pot. Potted bamboo will need water more often than bamboo planted in the ground. Bring your container bamboo indoors once the weather starts to turn cold, or insulate the pots with mulch and wrap the container in an insulating material like burlap to keep to roots warm in areas with extremely cold weather.
Don’t Be Bamboozled!
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure bamboo can bring to your home and landscape with its unique texture and marvelous color. With its extremely fast growth rate your yard will be popping with color before you know it, plus you can quickly grow a privacy screen to block out prying neighbors. Don’t let rumors of bamboo being extremely invasive stop your gardening dreams. Check out the clumping varieties or take the simple steps to control running varieties.