Bamboo gets a bad rap. Famous for spreading rapidly through underground rhizomes, it’s a plant that a lot of gardeners deem not worth the trouble. And while some varieties of bamboo can take over if not kept in check, there’s one surefire way to prevent those rhizomes from getting all over your yard: growing bamboo in pots. Keep reading to learn more about container grown bamboo and caring for bamboo in pots.
Growing Bamboo in Containers
Bamboo varieties can be split into two main categories: running and clumping. It’s the running ones that spread all over garden if you let them, while clumping varieties stay put and expand at a slow and respectable rate.
Growing bamboo in pots is possible for both varieties, though there will be a difference in how quickly you have to repot them. Bamboo grows a lot, even the clumping kind, and leaving it in the same pot for too long will make it become root bound and weak, eventually killing it.
Since running bamboo puts out so many runners, it’s likely to become root bound much faster. Part of caring for bamboo in pots is making sure it has ample room for its roots. Ten gallons (38 L.) is the smallest reasonable container size, and bigger is always better. Big 25- to 30-gallon (95-114 L.) wine barrels are ideal.
If your container grown bamboo is in a smaller pot, you’ll have to either transplant it or divide it every few years to keep it healthy. Bamboo can be transplanted at any time of year, but division should take place in the autumn or winter.
How to Care for Bamboo in Containers
Other than root space, caring for bamboo in pots is easy. Bamboo needs plenty of water and good drainage.
In the winter, the roots are at risk of cold. Protect them by wrapping the pot in burlap or mulching heavily.
If you have especially cold winters, it might be safest and easiest to bring your container grown bamboo indoors. Keep the plants at 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit (4-10 C.) and give them plenty of light until outdoor temperatures rise again.