How do you care for bamboo?

February 12, 2024
Bamboe verzorgen - hoe doe je dat
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Bamboo is a popular plant to freshen up both the interior and make the garden more lively. The plant remains green all year round, provided it receives the right care. The thousand-year-old super grass is even said to have miraculous powers that remove negative energy from the environment. According to the Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, having a bamboo plant brings wealth, health, and happiness. In addition, bamboo has a cooling effect and acts as a natural air conditioner for the immediate environment. Global warming means increasingly hotter summers, but this plant can lower the temperature by up to eight degrees in both the garden and in enclosed rooms. Good reasons to purchase your own bamboo, but how do you actually maintain it? Fortunately, bamboo plant care is not as difficult as it seems.

How do I plant my bamboo?

Bamboo comes in different types and sizes. There are as many as 1000 bamboo species! The new environment of the bamboo plant determines the care as there is a big difference between indoors and outdoors. Attention should also be paid to the breed of the bamboo, because before you know it, a whole bamboo forest is growing in the garden. The way the bamboo is planted influences a large part of the life of the super grass.

Outdoor Bamboo

The best time to plant the bamboo is between February and early autumn in a spot in the garden where it is not too damp. If the soil is too wet, there is a high chance that the roots will rot. When planting bamboo, it is important to dig a hole that is at least twice as big as the root ball. The super grass likes space. The root ball should be dipped in water before placement and can then be put directly into the ground. The hole is then filled with organic material such as wood chips or fallen leaves. The new bamboo plant should then receive plenty of water so that all air pockets around the root ball disappear. In the first week, the grass is extra thirsty, so it is important that it gets water daily. After that, watering every 2 to 3 days is sufficient, depending on the location of the plant and how much sun the bamboo gets. Bamboo plant care outdoors often goes largely by itself because nature helps a lot.

If the bamboo is not placed directly in the garden soil, but in a planter, hydro grains should first be sprinkled at the bottom of the pot. The water is thereby distributed more evenly and excess water can be absorbed again. This reduces the chance that the roots of the bamboo will rot. The planter can then be filled with normal potting soil and it is crucial to provide enough water in the initial period. It is best to choose medium-high or low-growing bamboo in a pot, as these do not grow as fast as their counterparts.

How do I plant bamboo

Spreading vs. Non-spreading bamboo

Before the new bamboo plant can be purchased for the garden, one must be aware of the different types of bamboo that exist. The grass is notorious for its aggressive growth which can provoke many a neighbor dispute, but that does not apply to all. The way of growing determines the difference between spreading and non-spreading bamboo. Non-spreading bamboo forms new shoots via one clump and therefore focuses on even growth. Spreading bamboos, on the other hand, are known for their fast-growing and expanding ability in the garden through the underground runners. The roots often multiply uncontrollably and can suppress other plants. This is because this bamboo forms underground root runners (rhizomes) that dig horizontally through the ground and grow new bamboo shoots there. This way, a new sprout can suddenly appear two meters next to the original bamboo plant. With a small garden, spreading bamboo is therefore not a good idea. However, you can limit the roots of this species with a root limiter. This is dug at least 65 centimeters deep into the ground around the root ball of the super grass, forming a fence for the territory where only the bamboo may grow. This way you prevent a bamboo invasion in the garden. Always research with the seller which type of bamboo it is. Would you rather place the bamboo outside in a pot? Then it is best to choose a non-spreading bamboo species, such as the Fargesia. There is a small chance that the pot will burst due to the strong roots.

Indoor Bamboo

The bamboo also shines in indoor spaces and is an easy plant to maintain. Often this type of bamboo is kept in a small bunch of stems that have small roots at the ends, also called lucky bamboo. Having a mature bamboo bush with a root ball is more difficult indoors due to the low humidity and lack of light and space. The lucky bamboo is therefore a good intermediate solution. This one is a real water lover and is at home in a lot of water, unlike the outdoor bamboo. The loose stems look beautiful in a, for example, transparent vase so you can see the growth process. At the bottom of the vase, a layer of at least 5 centimeters of pebbles or gravel is laid so that the plant can stand upright, depending on the size of the stems. Then the pot is filled with water just above the stone layer. Bamboo is said to increase the oxygen level in rooms and can even filter air. Prefer a bamboo bush in a pot? Having a bamboo crop with a root ball is unfortunately more difficult indoors because the humidity is often too low. In this case, always ensure that this level is at least 50 percent.

Help! My bamboo is getting yellow leaves

Don't panic, there is a good chance that the bamboo will get a few yellow leaves in the fall. A very natural process, like many other tree and grass species that start shedding leaves at the end of the summer in preparation for the winter season. The number of yellow leaves depends on the size and type of bamboo. Young bamboo suffers less from leaf fall. However, it is important to further investigate the plant when the leaves change color in other seasons such as winter, summer or spring.

Firstly, waterlogging could be a cause for the sudden change in color. Bamboo loves water, but too much watering can cause the hair roots to stand under water for a long time, preventing them from getting any oxygen. As a result, the sensitive roots can die off. Therefore, it is important that the bamboo is dug up with the root ball and all so that the roots can dry. If it is an outdoor bamboo, the soil around the roots can be loosened so that the branches get air and can breathe again.

Another possible cause for yellow leaves is chlorosis. A difficult word, but it simply means a deficiency of nutrients such as iron, magnesium or nitrogen. Buying suitable bamboo food can be a solution to pep up the super grass and make it beautifully green again. Bamboo also sometimes needs super foods and likes a treat! The fallen leaves around the bamboo plant can be left as they are, as the leaves still contain nutrients that the soil will absorb. It serves as a self-sustaining compost. Bamboo is sustainable!

The indoor bamboo can also suffer from yellow leaves. Often this is because the water in the pot or vase is no longer healthy for the plant. Therefore, it is important to remove the lucky bamboo from the pebble soil and refresh all the water. If the tap water contains a lot of chlorine or fluoride, it is best to choose bottled water or filtered water as it has less salt and more minerals. The bamboo notices when the room becomes too dry, then the leaves can also turn yellow. A higher humidity level is therefore desirable, especially in the winter months when the heating inside is turned on again. A bowl of water on the heating does wonders for the bamboo! The water will evaporate due to the heat and automatically makes the air more humid. When the top of the bamboo stem is dying and turning dark yellow, it is best to cut off the dead piece of bamboo. This way the rest of the plant can recover and the bamboo will grow back beautifully.

Yellow leaves bamboo

How do I maintain my bamboo?

Fortunately, bamboo is a simple plant in terms of care and is not demanding. Mainly providing enough water makes the plant happy. Occasionally removing old stems and leaves will do the bamboo good, just like a haircut. However, it is important to be well informed about which type of bamboo has been purchased. Each bamboo has its own character and comes with its own manual. But in general, the basic rules mentioned here apply to every bamboo crop and its bamboo maintenance. The flowering of bamboo is very irregular and varies depending on the type of bamboo. However, the chance that your bamboo will bloom is very small. It can take up to 120 years before the grass enters a flowering period! Pruning bamboo is often not necessary. The bamboo plant naturally drops leaves that have died off. Pruning is therefore only customary if the bamboo needs to look fresher.


Sunlight plays a big role in the life of the bamboo plant. Too much direct sunlight does not make the super grass happy and can cause loss of leaves. The indoor bamboo plant can sometimes be picky about which spot in the room it likes best. Moving the bamboo to different spots can help to find out where the plant likes to be at home. Preferably in a light spot close to the window. The outdoor bamboo, on the other hand, is less picky about sunlight and mainly needs a lot of water. Moving a mature bamboo bush in the garden is a bit more difficult. If the outdoor bamboo lives in a pot and gets yellow leaves, it can help to put it in partial shade. This way the super grass can recover from the excessive sun hours.

Does bamboo need a lot of water?

The green super grass can do without water for a short while and survives a drier period. Bamboo communicates via its leaves when it is thirsty by curling up the leaves. When the plant has not had water for a long time, it drops some leaves so that the rest of the plant stays hydrated, a real sacrifice. However, it should be closely monitored that the bamboo constantly has a moist substrate. Bamboo needs to be watered especially in the summer because the bamboo plant is extra thirsty then. The soil should never dry out completely, then there is a risk that the bamboo plant will die.

And which food is the best?

The outdoor bamboo loves fertilization! Therefore, some extra bamboo fertilizer in especially the summer and spring months can't hurt. Spring is the best period to give the super grass a boost because this is the growing season for the plant. Organic fertilizer such as cow manure pellet works fine for the bamboo, just make sure that the phosphate content in it is low. Nitrogen-containing fertilizers stimulate healthy growth and help the plant recover after the cold winter time. All in all, the NPK rule applies to fertilizers because these form the nutrients that are necessary for healthy plants. Fertilizer should contain a lot of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), so when in doubt always read the label of the fertilizer packaging. Fertilizing 3 to 4 times a year is sufficient for the super grass. Depending on the size of the bamboo, a handful to a scoop of fertilizer is spread between the grass stems and topped off with water. For the indoor lucky bamboo, fertilizer is of course not necessary, as it stands in water and gravel all year round.

Caring for and feeding bamboo

Aphids! What now?

The bamboo is a strong plant that has little trouble with pests and other external ailments. However, it can sometimes happen that aphids move from other plants to the super grass. Especially when the plant is not feeling well, it is more susceptible to uninvited guests. Don't worry, aphids are not harmful to the growth process and with good care and enough water, the aphids often disappear by themselves. Often a hard jet of water is enough to wash away the aphids or put the pot with the bamboo in the rain for a night. If the aphids are persistent, you can choose to use natural enemies (ladybugs for example) that eat the unwanted insects.

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