Answers to most frequently asked questions about bamboo plants
How many species of bamboo are there?
There are over 1,000 species.
Where does bamboo grow?
These plants grow in many countries across the world from India to the USA, Europe to Africa, Australia to East Asia... from hot tropical climates to cold temperate zones... and has even been know to grow in Antarctica. The varieties that grow in cold climates are often the running types.
How many types of bamboo?
Out of all the varieties and sizes there are essentially only two different bamboo species types and they are; running bamboo (spreads via runners) and clumping bamboo (grows in tighter clumps).
Do all bamboo plants spread?
This is a popular bamboo plant FAQ. Running bamboo types are good spreaders because they send out runners every year a good distance from the parent plant. Clumping bamboos however, do not spread so far so quickly as they stay in a clump and the new bamboo shoots generally pop up only a few inches away from the main plant every year. Your choice will depend on whether you want the bamboo to spread or would rather keep it contained in one area of your garden or land.
How far do the runners spread?
With the running type of species, rhizomes can pop up approximately the same distance away from the plant as it is in height. An 8ft high plant for example, can send rhizomes out up to 8ft before they shoot from the ground.
How deep are bamboo rhizomes in the soil?
The rhizomes of these plants are generally quite shallow. Although they can occasionally go deeper according to the conditions, they are usually less than 1ft deep. If you want to know about controlling bamboo growth through use of a barrier see my pages on rhizome barriers and installation.
Do bamboo plants live very long?
Survival of the plant will depend on the local environmental conditions. If the conditions are favourable a grove can be maintained indefinitely and be consistent in production of new culms yearly. An individual culm will generally live between seven and ten years but by the time it begins to die off it has produced new culms to take its place.
What climate do bamboo plants favour?
This bamboo plant FAQ is more complicated as there are so many species! As there are around a thousand species of these plants there are varieties that have adapted to different climates and temperatures. Some do best in a tropical environment yet others can even survive in extremely low temperatures such as minus 20°C.
Is it possible to remove, transplant, or kill bamboo?
Yes it is possible to do all these things and they are the most asked questions on Bamboo Plant FAQ. However, there are many differing opinions on the methods of removing, transplanting, and killing bamboos. It appears to me that some methods work for some people and other methods work for others. If you are going to dig it up or try using herbicides to get rid of these plants be sure to do a good job of whatever method you choose. A half-hearted attempt at any method will no doubt lead to failure!
How do I care for my bamboo plant?
It is not difficult or time consuming to look after these plants, for some good tips on maintaining and caring for your bamboos please see my section dedicated to providing that information. It covers watering, nutrients, soil, mulch, and maintenance tasks.
How much water does bamboo need?
Bamboo do not do well in waterlogged conditions such as boggy or wetland areas and therefore do not like to be planted where they will be over watered. On the other hand, they also would not do well if they were kept in containers and allowed to become dried out, it would most likely kill them. Visit this page for tips on growing in containers or this one for general care and maintenance.
Is bamboo easy to grow?
Yes bamboo is relatively easy to grow. This is a plant that does not require pesticides, it will grow without fertilizers but will do better with them, and on the whole they do not need a huge amount of water. Bamboo is very popular, and being evergreen can make fantastic hedging, windbreaks, privacy screens, and landscape garden features.
Is bamboo really a type of grass?
Yes bamboo is a grass. Although you wouldn't think it is but because the grass family 'Poaceae' has bamboo within it, a group containing some gigantic plants growing at approximately one meter daily. Also, being a grass, a certain amount of control over spreading can be done by simply mowing the bamboo shoots as they appear out of the ground.
Are there any small species of bamboo?
Yes, there are many varieties of really small bamboo plants. This is a popular question on bamboo plant FAQ. I have listed some of the small dwarf varieties on my page dedicated to dwarf bamboo.
What is clumping bamboo?
A clumping bamboo species will not produce 'runners' from the rhizomes. Clumping bamboo grows just as the name suggests… in a clump. This classification of species is more suitable if a non-invasive bamboo plant is required, particularly for a small garden where space is limited.
What is running bamboo?
Running bamboo rhizomes spread quickly and are ideal if you want to create a windbreak or will be using it for a hedge or screen in your garden. One of the benefits of planting running bamboo is this high speed spreading through underground runners but be aware of this invasiveness of running bamboo species when you are choosing plants. Control of bamboo growth spread can be done with a rhizome barrier and other methods involving pruning and mowing. You can also opt for container bamboo.
Where can I buy bamboo plants?
It depends of whether you want to wander around local nurseries or if you like to do a plant hunt online and get them delivered to the door. A lot of nurseries have a small choice of the most popular garden bamboo if there are no dedicated bamboo nurseries in your region, and specialist bamboo nurseries often do deliver now so you can buy online if distance is a problem.