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Can I Grow Bamboo in Containers?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 16, 2024
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The elegant beauty of bamboo has seduced many apartment-dwellers and office workers who are curious about growing the plant in containers. Although well known for forming groves that encroach upon surrounding land through aggressive spreading, miniature varieties of bamboo are easy to grow in pots, jars, bowls, and vases. If a ledge or table that needs decoration has filtered sunlight and medium humidity, you can cultivate bamboo indoors.

Choose an appropriate variety of bamboo that's hardy in your area of the world and has the kinds of leaves and stalks you find attractive. Black bamboo is a larger species whose stalks darken over time. Long, heavy troughs holding tall bamboo could form a leafy screen between rooms or a backdrop for a couch. Dwarf bamboo won't grow higher than about a foot, but can be trimmed to any size for a corner of an office desk or a narrow windowsill.

As important as the variety of bamboo is the shape and size of containers. Traditionally, this native Asian plant has been showcased in regional pottery, such as a celadon vase or red Chinese pot. However, any pot that has straight or obtuse sides will hold the plant upright while still allowing for transplanting. Wide-mouthed ones are better than thin, narrow openings.

Choose containers to complement your décor. There are pots and bowls available in stained cement, clear glass, ceramic, wood, and bright plastic. A transparent box will show off the bamboo's white roots as they curl around the decorative marbles, colored sand, or grey rocks submerged in water. A series of turquoise and red Chinese ceramic bowls will add a striking focal point to any room.

Alternatively, you can plant bamboo with potting soil on top of a layer of rocks or sand to provide enough drainage. Some varieties prefer damp soil, in which case they can be watered frequently. Container gardens always need more feeding and fertilizing since the plant will use up all the nutrients in the small amount of soil. Use an all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer. Bamboo prefers humid environments, such as a bathroom or kitchen. If your space isn't humid, spritz the bamboo's leaves daily with water.

Of course, a container garden of bamboo would also be appropriate for small outdoor spaces, such as a balcony, patio, or roof. The hardy plant will nevertheless suffer in harsh climates, so you must be able to winter the plants indoors if freezes or snow are expected. If you notice that your plant has become "rootbound," where roots are pressed densely against the sides of the pot, transplant it to a slightly larger container. If your bamboo develops a few yellow leaves, pinch them off and try giving it slightly more sunlight or less water.

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Discussion Comments
By anon141314 — On Jan 10, 2011

Only if you want broken containers. Bamboo of the running (monopod) or clump variety has been known to bend steel in their pursuit for space.

You could grow it in pots, but you'd have to give the pole space to shoot and then cut shoots as they emerge. Kind of high maintenance, but it can be done. --Frank S.

By anon119147 — On Oct 16, 2010

The best way to grow bamboo is to get a "rhizome" which is a bamboo root with a leafing branch and place it in a vase of water and gravel and leave it alone for about 5 months. once you have a good size root ball plant it into fast draining soil. Don't be fooled by "lucky Bamboo" which is not bamboo at all.

By jgodgift — On Nov 16, 2008

I bought a small container of bamboo at a store. It seems to be planted only in a bed or pebbles, and the instructions said that if the leaves began to turn yellow, to add more water. Then pinch off the yellow leaves and new ones will form. I did this in the beginning and my plant has grown several inches in the last year and is very healthy. I have never added anything to it but water clear to the top.

I once ate at a Chinese restaurant where they had a beautiful bamboo plant on their checkout counter and they said that was all they ever do to theirs too. I hope this is helpful.

By merresa621 — On May 07, 2008

I wish I had an answer, but I live in high dessert (Colorado). The tips of my bamboo leaves are brown, but the plant also has new, healthy growth. I've had the plant about 6 - 7 months and the stalks are approximately 7 inches tall. The roots are rust-colored (I've read that is a good sign). What might be causing the brown leaves?

Any information will be appreciated.

By bumbeljude — On Aug 24, 2007

Hi! A friend gave me the trimmings of his bamboo stalks and I was wondering how I should go about replanting them. I don't have any roots of the trimmings, they are green in color (the stalk part), the leaves are a little dry...just about falling off and I live in a desert type area (Utah).

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