How To Plant Bamboo Trees
The moment has arrived – your new bamboo has been delivered and you are about to plant them in your garden. These trees are going to be with you for many years to…
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Bamboo Trees, of the family Poaceae, are native to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Many of these species have been transferred to the United States and planted in gardens for either the benefits of a privacy screen or landscaping detail. Some species of bamboo are invasive, meaning they can overtake other native species and often do not have any natural predators or diseases. The Tree Center, however, offers non-invasive varieties of the Bamboo family, such as the Black Bamboo.
If fast-growth is the goal, look no further than the Bamboo, which has been known to grow several feet over the course of 24 hours. Bamboo is also strong, and it can be used in construction of buildings or tools. Bamboo Trees are popular as privacy screens, as the dense woody forests can easily be planted several stalks deep. There are over 1,000 species of Bamboo; these varied species can live in mountains, along the coasts, and in hot or cool climates. Most Bamboo species grow best in hotter climates, though most can grow indoors as potted plants.
Planting trees is an investment; be sure to research the species carefully before purchasing a tree from a trusted arborist, such as The Tree Center. Read the quick-facts below before examining the details in the following sections.
Buying Bamboo Trees is an investment in the natural décor of a landscape. Young Bamboo shoots require gentle care during initial stages of growth, and a well-trained arborist is beneficial when it comes to dividing and planting new Bamboo shoots. The Tree Center provides this early care to ensure successful growth later in life with proper planting.
Sun: Plant in full sun to partial shade.
Water: Water immediately after planting and once per week for the first year (every 5-7 days). Curled leaves indicate immediate need for watering.
When to Plant: Plant in early spring through mid-summer.
The first step in planting a Bamboo Tree is locating an area with full sun to partial shade. If using plastic root barriers, input these first. This will help to control the growth and spread of Bamboo. Bamboo grows fast and creates new shoots with ease. If the area for planting is limited in scope, use these plastic barriers. This is especially important along property lines. The location should have full sun or light, partial shade.
After determining which type of Bamboo Tree is best-suited to the location and needs of the landowner, Bamboo Trees can be purchased from The Tree Center. Once the tree arrives, examine the root ball, or the collection of the Bamboo Tree’s roots. The root ball indicates the size of the hole needed. Typically, the hole should be double the size of the tree’s root ball. For Bamboo Trees, this still only requires a small hole. If planting a privacy barrier, multiple holes should be 3 to 5 feet apart.
Place the Bamboo Tree sapling in the hole and backfill around the root ball with soil. If using mulch, layer a thin 1-inch layer at this time, watering the tree immediately. Remember that Bamboo Trees are fast-growing. At 15 feet, staking the shoots may be necessary. Metallic or wooden stakes can be tied to clusters of Bamboo Trees with twine.
Pruning may be necessary, especially if root barriers are not installed. Some Bamboo Gardeners go so far as to cut all Bamboo Tree culms to the ground in late April, which will give rise to new shoots in late spring. It may also be necessary to prune the smaller extensions of the main root, called rhizomes. These thin, capillary-like structures can be trimmed to keep the population of Bamboo in check.
The soil is an essential component to any tree’s success. Soil contains many of the macronutrients and micronutrients a plant needs to survive, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The granular sizes of the soil composition also impact tree growth, as the grains either assist or deter water and oxygen movement through the soil. Soil is divided into three main categories: clay, silt, and sand. Clay and silt have the smallest grains, and the small grains often stick together making water and air movement difficult. Sand, which has the largest particles, has the opposite problem. The large grains often filter water and air too quickly, so the plant is unable to absorb them.
Bamboo Trees, like most trees, prefer a mixed soil type known as loam. Loam consists of a variety of particle sizes, thus enabling a balanced movement of nutrients. Bamboo Trees prefer the loam to be slightly acidic rich in humus, or organic matter. Soil can be tested if concerns arise; however, unless the soil is poor, the Bamboo Tree should be relatively successful as it is an adaptable plant.
Bamboo Trees like water – but standing water is detrimental, and well-balanced watering is preferred by the Bamboo in order to promote successful growth. Water Bamboo frequently, especially during dry spells. The Bamboo should receive at least 1 inch of water every 5 to 7 days, more if the temperature rises above 75°F. Watch the Bamboo Tree for curled or distressed leaves, which may indicate under-watering.
Mulch and fertilizer can be beneficial when gardening. Bamboo Trees are no different, and benefit from these gardening tools. Mulch helps retain and conserve water, and for a tree which requires moderate watering, this can be both a money-saver and life-saver. Bark or wood-chip based mulches also decompose over time, adding to the nutrient richness of the surrounding soil. One inch of mulch is all that is needed.
Fertilizers can also be helpful to the successful growth and rooting of the Bamboo Tree. Slow-released fertilizers heavy in nitrogen work best, with preferred rations nearing a 24-4-8 ratio identifying nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content, respectively. Apply to the mulch layer every 4-6 months, or as needed based on location and fertilizer-brand directions.
When planting any new tree, it is essential to determine what specific aesthetic, use, and species’ needs each type of tree may offer to a yard. Bamboo plants are no different. Aesthetically, these plants provide linear shapes absent in most other trees. Additionally, Bamboo trees are simple and colorful. Bamboo is used to create privacy barriers and small, woody forests on property lines. Due to its culms, or small individual shoots, Bamboo Trees can be used to create dense forests. Finally, Bamboo is relatively easy to grow and care for. The tree’s fast growth often creates the unique privacy screen quickly.
There are over 1,000 different Bamboo species and cultivars. The Tree Center has identified and cared for those species best-suited to growth in the United States. Some examples of the most common and popular Bamboo Tree species are listed below.
Easily the most popular Bamboo variety, Black Bamboo grows quickly to create dense privacy screens. Unlike many other varieties, Black Bamboo has relatively mild culm growth. This translates to quick new growth on old shoots, but limited expanse. This enables landscapers to rest knowing the Bamboo is not overtaking other plants or properties. Although Black Bamboo can grow as much as 12 feet a year, growth is limited by environmental factors. Black Bamboo does turn black with age, though young shoots are green. Black Bamboo prefers full to partial shade, and it even does well as a potted plant. Limited in full-year growth to USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9, plant the Black Bamboo in a pot as an accent piece.
When comapred to its popular cousin, Sunset Glow Bamboo is vastly different. This small-space filling bamboo maintains a quick growth rate while reaching its mature height 8 feet. Sunset Glow Bamboo has slender red stems on which grow several narrow, pointed green leaves. This clumping Bamboo is easy to limit to small areas, and it grows well throughout most of the United States, in Zones 5-9.
Multiplex Bamboo is sometimes referred to as ‘Hedge Bamboo’. This cold-hardy, non-invasive Bamboo Tree variety grows into a luscious green privacy screen on property lines with ease. Preferring subtropical regions in the USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, Multiplex Bamboo prefers full sun, and it can grow well either in a garden or container.
Landscapers and homeowners are often looking for a unique touch to the privacy garden. Bamboo Trees offer a tropical, eccentric twist on the more common European hedge-like gardening structures. Bamboo Trees are also incredibly fast-growing, meaning they will quickly bring a desired effect into the landscape. Bamboo Trees have few natural diseases or pests, making them hardy.
Temperature and water concerns may arise with Bamboo Trees. Many Bamboo Tree species are not cold-hardy, though the Multiplex Bamboo and Sunset Glow Bamboo can both do well with mild to moderate cooling temperatures. Mites can also affect Bamboo Trees, though they are infrequently severely damaged by infestations. Bamboo can also grow quickly, and this can sometimes lead to unintended growth. Use root barriers and pruning to effectively manage growth, which can become uncontrolled.