Choosing a Bamboo
Bamboo is a very diverse family, with plants that grow no more than three feet tall and giant bamboos of more than 100 feet. A large enough container, however, can handle bamboos of about seven or eight feet in height. Choose your bamboo based on its mature size and suitability for your climate, which can include USDA Zones 5 and above depending on the bamboo species.
The most important aspect of a container for bamboo is that it have room enough for the root mass. Bamboo can spread quite readily and may need to be repotted every two or three years. The pot should allow for at least two inches of soil around the entire root mass. Since bamboo is tall, the pot should also be heavy enough to prevent the plant blowing over easily.
Bamboo containers can be made of many different materials – drainage, portability and strength can all be a concern. Here are some possibilities:
- Glazed ceramic – strong and resists evaporation through the sides.
- Unglazed ceramic – also strong, good for high humidity because its porous.
- Plastic – inexpensive and light; not very esthetically appealing.
- Brick, stone or block planters – good for permanent containers.
Managing Bamboo in Pots
Planting a bamboo in a container means you must pay careful attention to such issues as fertilizer and water. Use diluted lawn fertilizer and feed no more than two or three times a growing season – early spring to late summer. Water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Make sure the bamboo roots aren’t growing out of the pot and into the ground.
Protecting Container-Grown Bamboo
With a few exceptions, bamboo is a tropical, subtropical or temperate-zone plant. Plants in containers are typically much more susceptible to freezes or cold, drying winds. A northern exposure increase the risk of damage. Keep the plants well-watered but not soggy. For expected temperatures below freezing, wrap the pot with insulating material or move the plant indoors.
All bamboos will eventually outgrow the pot and become root-bound. You can move it to a larger container or divide the plant and repot one division in the same pot with fresh soil. Work quickly and keep the root ball in a pail of water in the shade, as the roots are very sensitive to light and air. Don’t allow the plant to lie on its side.