Many different areas have a variety of challenges when growing certain plants. Most issues (other than temperature) can be overcome by soil manipulation, locating a microclimate, changing watering habits, and a few other types of care and planting. Sometimes, it’s a matter of choosing the proper plant for the area.
So, it goes without saying that growing bamboo in the desert or finding a bamboo for desert climates starts with the right plant selection. With a little extra attention to the type of bamboo you plant in your desert landscape, you may get a good stand of this interesting plant. In fact, you may find that bamboo grows in the desert all too well, outgrowing its designated spot and spreading out of control, though not so much as locating them in more temperate or tropical-like environments.
Finding Bamboo Desert Plants
Bamboo can grow in the desert, as proven by Bamboo Ranch in Tucson, Arizona where 75 large groves grow abundantly. Their groves range from stands of large bamboo plants down to groundcover bamboo. They specialize in what you’re looking for when growing bamboo in the desert.
If it’s feasible, you might want to visit their demonstration groves for ideas or to purchase (by appointment). At least have a look at their site or articles for specific tips for planting bamboo that grows in the desert.
Growing Bamboo in the Desert
Plant desert bamboo varieties near a water source or in a location convenient to a sprinkler, as establishing bamboo in an arid climate takes lots of water. Keep bamboo well-watered for the first three to four years after planting to develop a good root system. However, soil should not remain wet or soggy.
Bamboo roots are shallow, so a small amount of water saturates them quickly. Soil amendments and mulch can help the roots hold proper water. Most recommend watering every other day. A location in partial shade may be helpful, too, if available.
If you’re looking to fill in an area, you may want to plant a running type bamboo, such as golden bamboo. This type can reach more than 10 feet (3 m.) in height, with stems 1 inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter. A running bamboo is known for its spreading, so while you may want it to do so, keep in mind that it could quickly get out of hand. Growing it in the desert is no exception.
Alphonse Karr is a clumping type often chosen for growth in a desert area, and Weaver’s bamboo is a clumping edible type that performs well in these more arid conditions too. Clumping bamboo is not as prone to spread or become a nuisance in the landscape.