Bamboo is one of the most sustainable building and construction materials in the world – and if you take care of it properly, bamboo will continue to grow for years and add life-giving oxygen to the plant.
With growing concerns about climate change, this is much needed.
Additionally, bamboo provides a timeless, organic, chic, and modern look when used in construction and furniture.
If you choose to use it in your décor, you can feel confident about its sustainable nature.
For this reason, bamboo is becoming a popular plant to grow and use inside the home.
Here’s how you can care for bamboo and what you’ll do with it once it’s ready to be harvested.
1. What is bamboo used for?
Bamboo is grown in houses for a variety of reasons.
For one, “lucky bamboo” is a Feng Shui staple as it’s a symbol of luck and property.
This makes it a common gift because it’s a small house plant.
However, other people decide to grow bamboo for purely functional purposes.
They want to grow and harvest bamboo for a project.
Here are some of the ways bamboo can be utilized.
- Construction – flooring, roofing design, scaffolding
- Ornamental garden planting
- Environmental characteristics – carbon sink and phytoremediation
- Improving soil structure and soil
But before we get into harvesting bamboo and the best projects to create, let’s talk about how to take care of bamboo.
After all, if you don’t know how to care for the plant, you won’t be able to use it.
2. How do you take care of bamboo?
There are over 1,400 varieties of bamboo (and counting!).
You can select the type of bamboo you’d like to grow based on your vision for it.
Some people want to grow bamboo in their garden while others would prefer a house plant.
We’ll give you a brief overview of how to take care of both types of bamboo below.
What is proper plant care for indoor bamboo?
If you’re looking for a small house plant, you should choose lucky bamboo.
Although, strictly speaking, it isn’t actually bamboo according to its scientific name Dracaena genus.
This plant is from Southeast Asia and has been used in Feng Shui for over 5,00 years.
The plant represents good luck and happiness, which makes it a popular gift.
Fortunately, it’s also incredibly easy to care for.
If you’ve never had a bamboo plant, this one shouldn’t scare you away.
If you choose to grow it in water, you should replace the water each week.
If you plant it in the soil, the soil should be kept slightly damp.
Avoid overwatering the bamboo or allowing it to get dry.
Lucky bamboo does best when it receives indirect sunlight and stays at temperatures of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 35 degrees Celsius).
While bamboo in general likes lots of sunlight, lucky bamboo plants tolerate low-light conditions well.
This is because it grows under a leafy canopy of trees in nature.
Bamboo favors somewhat tropical conditions, and it’s considered to be in the hardiness zones of 10 to 11.
How to take care of garden bamboo
Garden bamboo is a versatile plant.
Most species can survive in a variety of conditions, but bamboo growing in full sun will grow the fastest.
When it comes to soil, you should provide your bamboo with fertile, slightly acidic, well-drained, moist soil.
That said, garden bamboo is relatively low maintenance.
The above conditions are the most ideal, but as long as you provide a few of these conditions, most bamboo will be content.
3. Does bamboo need sun?
Yes, most varieties of bamboo require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
While lucky bamboo does best with indirect sunlight, if you’re planning to maintain garden bamboo, you should plant this variety in a sunny area.
You should also research the specific species of bamboo that you’re planting.
Some varieties tolerate more shade if you don’t have sunlight constantly available.
As a rule of thumb, however, more sunlight results in a happier bamboo plant.
The best spot for bamboo is an atrium or greenhouse where light and humidity are higher.
4. How often do you water bamboo?
Bamboo grows best when it receives at least 1 inch of water each week.
This water should be from rainfall or manual watering.
If you’re caring for bamboo as a houseplant, you’ll need to make sure you provide all this water manually (you can use tap water, distilled water or bottled water).
However, if you keep your bamboo in the garden, you should consider the rainfall that the bamboo is receiving.
If you provide 1 inch of water manually, and the bamboo is already receiving water independently, then the plant could become overwatered.
Overwatering can lead to root rot.
5. How do you select soil for lucky bamboo?
In general, bamboo enjoys moist soil, so keeping the soil you select wet is an important factor in its growth.
If the leaves turn yellow on your bamboo plant, this is a sign that the plant has become “root-bound.”
This means that the roots have run out of space, and they may even try to escape any drain holes that are present in the pot.
If you see this, you should re-pot your house plant into a larger container to let the roots spread out.
Lucky bamboo can also grow in water.
If you choose to go this route, we recommend using stones or pebbles to prop the bamboo up.
There should be at least an inch of water in the vase at all times, and you should change the water weekly for best results.
Additionally, you should clear the vessel thoroughly if you notice any algae growth.
6. What are the top bamboo care tips?
Here are the best bamboo care tips for house bamboo…
You should carefully remove any packaging and add rocks to your container to act as an anchor
You should place the bamboo in indirect sunlight and fill the container with enough water to cover the roots
You should maintain a temperature range of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit
You should use a liquid houseplant fertilizer every three to four weeks
You should remove any yellow leaves
You should report the bamboo as its roots outgrow the container
Here are the best bamboo care tips for garden bamboo…
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball on your bamboo
Set the bamboo in the hole and spread the roots out
Gently backfill the hole and tamp the soil down as you go
Water the hole thoroughly to help fill in any air pockets
Water weekly until the bamboo plant is established
- Bamboo does best if it gets at least 1 inch of water a week, either from rainfall or manual watering
- Watering deeply encourages bamboo to establish its roots, which helps to protect your bamboo from drought
Provide shade to the newly planted bamboo for the first two weeks after planting
Do not rake up bamboo leaves from the roots as these leaves will help to protect the roots, keep the soil moist, and provide essential nutrients to the soil as they decompose
Add a layer of mulch to the bamboo roots to keep your bamboo growing strong
Apply a layer of compost or balanced fertilizer to the soil in the spring
7. Can you twist lucky bamboo?
If you’re considering lucky bamboo to keep inside, you may have seen pictures of bamboo plants with twisted stalks.
These designs are unique, and frankly, unlike any other plant.
If you want to train your bamboo stalks to twist in this fashion, you should use light.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to care for spiral bamboo plants.
Cut one side out of a cardboard box
Place your plant inside the box
Set the box so its open side faces a light source (not at the top)
Care for your plant as normal until the plant starts leaning toward the light
Slightly rotate the plant, so it continues to grow toward the light
Keep rotating the plant as it leans slightly
- If you spin it in the same direction, it’ll eventually become a spiral
Prune your plant’s leaves as it spirals so it doesn’t become too top-heavy
Lucky bamboo can also be braided, which is another unique and gorgeous option.
Here’s how you can create this design.
Choose a container with three potted stalks or plant your own
- These stalks should be ½ to 1 inch thick and planted about two inches apart from each other in a triangle or row
Prune the base of the three stalks
Braid the stalks by taking the right stalk over the middle and bringing the middle to the right
Take the left stalk and cross it over the stalk that’s now in the middle and bring the stalk out to the left of the new middle stalk
Braid the plant until there are four or five inches left at the top
Wrap a twist tie around the top of the braid
- The tie should be secure but not tight
Care for the plant normally
- The braid will strengthen as it grows
8. How do you harvest bamboo?
Bamboo grows quickly, and sometimes it’ll take over your yard.
If this becomes the case, you can cut back bamboo or harvest it.
You can harvest bamboo shoots by cutting them even with the soil or digging around the young shoot and cutting just about the rhizome.
You should clean the shoot and peel the outer sheaths.
9. What types of projects should you use for harvested bamboo?
If you’ve recently harvested bamboo, here are 3 projects that you can create.
Use a series of bamboo poles that you cut to your desired divider height.
Buy a base that’s the same length that you need for your room.
If you don’t like the color of natural bamboo, you can paint or stain the poles before placing them in the base.
Fill the base with a quick dry cement that you purchase pre-mixed or mix yourself.
Then, insert the poles into the cement, placing each pole an equal distance apart.
When the cement dries, you can decorate the area around the base with flowers or river rocks to conceal the cement.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive headboard, craft your own out of bamboo!
First, you’ll need to determine how many bamboo poles you need to span the width of your bed.
For instance, a queen mattress is 60 inches wide, and you should plan for a width of about 64 inches for the headboard.
To build your headboard, lay out your poles in a single layer to create the design you want.
Then, cut them to your preferred length.
Some people like a uniform length while others enjoy a varied appearance.
As a guideline, most headboards are around 3 feet tall.
If you want to vary the length of the poles, then you can go higher in the middle of the headboard and lower on the sides.
Lay out the desired design on the floor, and take 2-foot pieces of twine, rope, or string to tie two bamboo poles together a third of the way down from the top and a third of the way from the bottom.
Follow this pattern across the poles and attach the headboard to the wall by connecting wall hooks to the twine.
If you’re ready to level up your DIY skills, try creating a bamboo coffee table.
To be able to say you created your own coffee table out of homegrown bamboo is really special.
You have a lot of license when it comes to designing a coffee table.
You can choose the ideal size depending on the space you want to put in it.
Once you’ve determined the table’s dimensions, you should cut the bamboo poles to that size.
We recommend leaving an extra centimeter or two for the cross pieces.
Next, drill two holes 90 degrees apart on each of your table legs and insert the cross pieces into the holes.
This will give you a rectangle of cross pieces connected to four vertical legs.
You can secure this will glue and enhance the appearance by wrapping the joints with twine or rope.
For shine and preservation, adding a coat of lacquer to the bamboo is also a good option.
Finally, add a glass top that extends about 3 inches beyond the table legs.
A homemade organic bamboo table made with your own two hands.
You’re sure to get compliments.
10. Is bamboo drought-tolerant?
If you’re searching for a drought-tolerant plant, bamboo is a perfect choice for your garden.
Although succulents, cacti, and sagebrush are the most common choices, bamboo requires less water than most people think.
Bamboo requires the most water when first planted.
Once its root system is established, it can survive with limited irrigation.
That said, make sure you do your research on the best species of bamboo.
Some are quite drought-tolerant while others require more water to thrive.
One ideal type is Phyllostachys aurea, also known as golden bamboo.
It’s one of the most widespread species, and it’s known for its resiliency.
It can survive almost anything, including a drought.
Do you see now why bamboo is such a popular plant to grow at home?
It has so many uses, and it is fairly low maintenance.
It also isn’t difficult to learn how to take care of bamboo.
Once you’ve planted it and helped it solidify its root system, you can feel confident in its ability to grow resiliently.
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