We all know bamboo. Pandas love them. And they’re long and tough, often used in many different industries due to their sturdiness and resilience. And more importantly, it is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world.
It won’t be a surprise if you decide to grow it at home. But before you do so, it would be ideal for learning a thing or two before starting.
For example, what conditions does it need to thrive? How fast does bamboo grow? And how far does it reach when fully grown? The answers to these questions will make a huge difference between planting bamboo successfully into a thriving tree or getting no growth at all.
Luckily for you, we answer all these questions and more below. If you’re looking to grow bamboo at home, the guide below will help you enormously. Take a look!
What is Bamboo Exactly?
Part of the Bambusoideae family, bamboo is an evergreen perennial. Meaning, it puts on leaves every year. It often grows these leaves in the springtime.
But more importantly, bamboo boasts a hollow stem. Instead of the thick and dense trunk that most trees have, bamboo is almost entirely hollow. It does this thanks to the vascular bundles and veins that hold the exterior. Believe it or not, this makes bamboo grass and not a tree.
Because bamboo is a type of grass, it is also a monocot. It doesn’t produce branches or limbs. Despite all of that, bamboo is a hollow piece of wood and one of the sturdiest. Bamboo can be used in the absence of softwoods and some hardwoods. And what’s even better, it looks awesome everywhere it grows.
How Fast Does Bamboo Grow?
While bamboo seems just like any other plant when it comes to growth, it is not. To the surprise of most people, bamboo can grow at an unprecedented pace of 36 inches every 24 hours. It is safe to say it can reach 1.6 inches of growth per hour.
It is important to know, however, that this growth doesn’t happen out of nowhere. Bamboo needs the right conditions to grow this fast. Obviously, it does not always reach that many inches per day. But in most cases, it can get pretty close.
The process happens due to the unique rhizome system, an interconnected root that absorbs huge amounts of nutrients from the soil. But here’s a lot more to this process.
You will also find unique cells on the wood to have a huge impact on how fast it grows. These cells produce a growth process called elongation. And it happens because the cells absorb all the water that the roots send. Because of that, the wood starts to elongate, or more precisely, to expand.
To put it even easier to understand, you can think of bamboo as a slimy toy. Slime is typically compact and small. But once you expand it, the slime becomes longer and wider. With bamboo, it is wood instead of slime. And instead of you expanding it, the cells grow with the nutrients the roots send.
Fast-Growing Bamboo Species to Consider
Even though most bamboo species grow fast, some grow faster than others. Here, we want to introduce the ones that grow faster. In case you’re thinking of growing bamboo at home, these types will be the best:
Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea)
The name comes from the particular color the wood produces. Instead of the usual green of bamboo, this one harnesses a green-to-yellow one. With enough sunlight, the bamboo gets to a gold-like color.
Sure enough, the bamboo grows decently fast, achieving an outstanding 35-inch growth per day. The stems can reach a total of 35 feet in less than a year. And these trunks can be up to 2 inches in diameter.
It prefers warm environments with moderate humidity. Cool climates may cause it to grow slowly.
Green Glaucous Bamboo (Phyllostachys viridis)
Another fast-growing bamboo type that also grows tall and wide is the Green-Glaucous. As its name says, it boasts an intense green color, often with white stripes across the stems.
This one can also achieve over 20 inches of growth per day. More interestingly, it can grow to 35 feet in its lifespan, with stems of around 3 inches in diameter.
Like most bamboos, it grows better in warm climates. Yet, cool places won’t necessarily trump its growth.
Green Stripe Vivax (Phyllostachys vivax)
If you’re looking for a bamboo species that grows super-large and wide, it is the Green Stripe Vivax you need to go for. Its vibrant yellow with green stripes and bulky appearance makes it impossible to dismiss.
Each specimen of this species can reach a total of 45 feet in height. And what’s even better, the canes may achieve 5 inches in diameter. It can grow over 20 inches per day.
This one is a rare species, hard to find for home use. Even then, it requires warm environments and grows with a lot of sunlight.
Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys moso)
One of the most useful types of bamboos is the Moso. It boasts an intense green color with white stripes. The surface is one of the softest in texture but the hardest in sturdiness.
The Moso bamboo can get to 10 feet in total height. Yet, it can be as thick as 5 inches on its base, making it bulky. Thanks to its small cane, hardwood, and thick shape, it is used as timber for construction and furniture.
It can grow several inches per day. More interestingly, it does so either in warm or cold environments without problems.
Red Margin (Phyllostachys rubromarginata)
Nothing will meet your standards like the Red Margin if you’re going for a more ornamental type of bamboo. It comes with an intense olive color with red-to-brown stripes.
Interestingly, this type of bamboo can grow to 60 feet in ideal conditions. And in some cases, it can reach over 5 inches in diameter, making it one of the thickest.
What sets it apart, however, is how fast it grows. It can grow at a pace of more than 30 inches per day. And more importantly, it is highly resistant to different conditions. For that reason, it is one of the most sought-after bamboo species.
What Does Bamboo Need to Thrive?
Regardless of the bamboo species you chose, it is essential to ensure certain conditions. Otherwise, the bamboo will either struggle to grow. Having said that, it is important to remember that bamboo is a type of grass. With that in mind, let’s learn about its needs:
Space & Area
Considering bamboo can grow pretty large and grass-like (cover a large area), it is safe to say that you’ll need a lot of space to grow it. Sure enough, this means both in width and in height.
But there’s another factor to consider. Because bamboo canes are typically planted alone (per seedling), you need to measure enough space before planting. That means you need to leave at least 5 feet square per bamboo cane. Otherwise, the bamboos will compete with each other and possibly trump their growth.
At the same time, you shouldn’t space them too far. This could cause them to die even, as they won’t have the ideal moisture and light as they need.
if we were to recommend an ideal space for bamboo, nothing would be better than a large garden with enough space so you can plant at least 5 seedlings at once (considering they need to be 5 feet apart)
Soil & Fertilization
You can grow bamboo pretty much in any soil. But that doesn’t mean it has no preferences. Bamboo, being a tropical plant, prefers mildly alkaline soils with 7 pH.
Despite its preference, you can grow bamboo in any type of soil: clay, sand, loam, rock, composted, mulched, and any other soil you can think of. As long as there are enough nutrients to feed the bamboo, it will likely thrive.
But there’s a type of soil that bamboo doesn’t like: moist and soggy. While it can grow in humid places, moist soils that are constantly moist and damp won’t help bamboo grow. That’s why it is often recommended to only plant bamboo in well-drained soils.
Water & Humidity
As we mentioned above, bamboo prefers warm and moderately moist areas. Anywhere with too much moisture will either cause disease or overwhelm the roots (rhizomes). For either of these reasons, it is always better to water when the soil is dry. Otherwise, let it be.
Interestingly, bamboo doesn’t like excessively dry places either. Anywhere with little moisture will also make the canes struggle. That’s why organic material like mulch and compost can be so helpful, especially in areas where the soil needs to retain as much moisture as possible.
Light & Air
While bamboo can grow in shaded areas, it prefers having at least 4 hours of sunlight every day. This increases the energy absorption, making it easier for the bamboo to sustain its own growth. In places where they receive 6 or more hours of sun exposure, they tend to grow larger.
As for air, they don’t have any standard needs. As long as the place is breathable (a garden, for example), the bamboo should thrive.
Temperature & Environment
As you know, bamboo is a tropical plant. And interestingly, it is also grass. This combination makes it a warm-environment species. You will have a better time growing bamboo in places above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It can resist up to 80 degrees.
But don’t think bamboo will die in colder areas. Depending on the species, the plant may withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how sturdy and resistant this plant can be.
This is why the ideal environment for this plant would be a warm and moist area. Anywhere with tropical temperatures and humidity should be more than enough for it. But you can also grow it in slightly colder places like mountains and cloud forests.
How Long Can a Bamboo Grow?
Let’s say that you planted bamboo in your garden. How long can you expect the plant to grow?
In reality, this depends heavily on the species you picked. But it also depends on the conditions. If you can ensure the perfect environment for the bamboo to thrive, it’s likely to grow larger than without them.
Generally, however, bamboo grows between 15 and 35 feet in the largest species. Although popular species are not as large as may thin, there are records of bamboo growing more than 130 feet.
Does Bamboo Produce Flowers?
Yes. Bamboos can flower from time to time, given the ideal conditions. But this flowering depends, once again, on the species.
The flowers are more blossoming seeds. Meaning, it creates a pricky leaf that hangs. The pricks are the seeds. This helps bamboo spread and propagate itself.
Of course, the size and color of the blossom depend on the species. Some are yellow to brown, while others are completely green.
It is important to remember that bamboo can flower for several years straight. While the plant can last anywhere from 30 to 100 years, the flowering season also lasts that long. Once the flowering stops, for one reason or another, the plant slowly declines and dies.
Is Bamboo an Invasive Species?
Considering the consistent flowering and ability to last decades, bamboo is indeed considered an invasive species. Some have a higher potential than others, depending on how they grow. Here, you need to consider both clumping and running bamboo species.
The clumping bamboos use seeds. These seeds grow like any other plant, widening and enlarging over time. And more importantly, they don’t spread around too much (only with seeds).
In contrast, running bamboo growth starts directly from the root and expands itself throughout gardens. Killing a running bamboo is often difficult, so they’re described as highly invasive and dangerous species.
Can You Plant Bamboo at Home?
Nothing is prohibiting the planting and growth of bamboo in residential places. But because it is an invasive species, it may be banned in some countries.
Having said that, growing a running bamboo species at home can be dangerous, especially if you have other plants around. And what’s even more important to remember, bamboo grows tall and dense. If you have plants that require a lot of sun close, bamboo won’t be your best choice.
Now you’ve learned almost everything about bamboo before growing it. We answered questions like how fast does bamboo grow and what it takes to do it properly, plus many others. If you’re eager to start growing bamboo at home – all our advice above will come super-helpful.
There are tons of different factors to consider, though. Before you go and plant bamboo, be sure it’s a wise decision. You won’t like to be disappointed later on. If there’s no problem planting bamboo at home, follow our advice above and get the job done. You won’t regret it in that case.