Can you plant bamboo in a container?

bamboo in a container
bamboo in a container

Of the bamboo species available in stores, many are very suitable for planting in containers. Be sure to use large-sized containers and do not let the plants dry out.

Even in a tub, bamboo spreads its exotic flair in the garden, on the terrace or balcony. Tall species are a perfect privacy screen and are suitable for bamboo hedges. In the planter, the roots of rhizome-forming, sprawling species are safely contained, as long as they can’t burst or puncture the material due to pressing crowding. Cluster-forming bamboo species grow nice and compact, making them ideal for container planting.

Which bamboo is suitable for the container?

Since the often large plants can be moved only with difficulty, in the beginning here it is suggested to choose only species and varieties that can be left outside in the winter. These include the Bisset bamboo (Phyllsostachys bisettii). It grows a good four meters (12 ft) high, its stems are remarkably dense, and it can tolerate even heavy frosts. However, it needs very large tubs. Also growing tall and strong are selections of the species Phyllostachys aureosulcata: ‘Aureocaulis’, the Golden Beijing Bamboo, reaches more than four meters in height when growing freely, but usually remains somewhat smaller in containers. It is characterized by yellow stems with green foliage. No runners form Fargesia species that prefer partial shade. Fargesia murielae ‘Simba’, the maned bamboo, grows picturesquely overhanging and reaches about two meters high. At one-and-a-half meters (5 ft), Fargesia murielae ‘Bimbo’ remains even smaller. Selections of dwarf bamboo (Pleioblastus chino) grow only about a meter (3 ft) tall and regenerate themselves after annual pruning, even when they have flowered. These species are ideal for semi-high rows.

How to plant bamboo in a container correctly

Before you fill the planters with soil, line the inside with Styrofoam sheets about four cm (1.6 in) thick. This layer insulates and protects the roots from excessive heat and severe frost. Rectangular or square containers are best suited for this purpose. They are also suitable when it comes to using rows of bamboo as a screen or for bamboo hedges in the garden. As a basis, you then put in a fill of expanded clay, also four centimeters high, so that no water can collect at the bottom. Because waterlogging means the end for bamboo. The tubs must have free drainage holes in the bottom. Always use nutrient-rich substrate or special bamboo soil. Minus the styrofoam and expanded clay layers, the planter should hold about twice as much soil as the pot the new plant is currently in. Spring is the best time to plant bamboo in a container. However, autumn is still possible, if frost is not yet expected.

How much water does bamboo need in the tub?

No species of bamboo tolerates prolonged drought, because the numerous leaves constantly evaporate water. No matter what time of year, the first sign of drought stress is the curling of the leaves on the plant. So be sure to water sufficiently, especially in hot summers. Bamboo plants that have once dried out completely regenerate only hesitantly or not at all.

Fertilize bamboo in the tub abundantly

Bamboo is a strong feeder. Above all, it needs plenty of nitrogen, which is no surprise, since the plants grow extremely strongly. Give the plants regular fertilizer between March and July. Either weekly in liquid form or every six weeks with slow-release fertilizer granules. To ensure that the shoots mature and are firm enough to go into winter, the fertilizer season is over from mid-summer onwards.

How to repot bamboo in a container

Planters, even for young bamboo plants, should not be lower than 40 centimeters (16 in). Their minimum diameter or the smallest edge length should be about 60 centimeters (24 in), the larger, the better. At the same time, the depth of the tubs can always be slightly less than their width. Depending on the speed of growth, a reduction action of the plants is due at the latest after two full years of standing. For this purpose, the bamboo is taken out of the container in the spring and reduced to a quarter of the rootstock or divided, but the shoots should not be damaged, if possible. Division of the solid root ball is very laborious even with a sharp spade, so better use a good saw. After that, the reduced plants are replanted in the tub in new substrate as before. If you want the plants to become more and more lush, you will always need a much larger container. However, at some point the limits are reached, so that even with large plants a division becomes necessary.

Winter protection for bamboo in the tub

Hardy bamboo is green year-round and requires watering during frost-free periods. If it freezes, the leaves of many species curl up and unfurl again when it gets milder. Shake off snow loads. Be sure to avoid the roots in containers freezing through and wrap the containers in insulating material. In case of more severe frosts, winter protection is necessary. Then also cover the shoots with garden fleece. The pots must not freeze on bottom plates. If this danger exists, slide a wooden pallet or something similar under them.

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