Growing bamboo at home is a lot easier than you might imagine. Whilst most of us think that bamboo is a tropical plant, growing thousands of miles away in a far eastern jungle, it does grow remarkably well in the UK and is suited to our cool damp summers and mild wet winters.
Bamboo plants have become popular garden plants in the UK, favoured for their fast growth, evergreen appearance, and architectural stems (culms). There is a huge range of bamboo species to choose from, ranging in colour from black to yellow, suiting any garden design. With many different varieties of bamboo to choose from, some are perfect for using in tropical planting situations, while others are more suited to modern urban designs and some clump-forming varieties work very well as natural screening alternatives to hedges or fencing. They are even made into bamboo toilet rolls and bamboo kitchen towels.
One of the advantages of bamboo in the manufacture of paper products such as toilet paper and kitchen towels is the speed at which it grows, although this can cause the gardener problems as some can quickly outgrow their designed space and start to look unattractive if not kept under control. If left to grow unattended, they can be virtually impossible to remove with the roots spreading far and wide, and a strong resistance to normal household weedkillers.
In simple terms, there are two types of bamboo: running and clumping. Clumping bamboo, as the name suggests, grows in clumps. Running bamboo varieties grow long underground stems, or rhizomes, from which new growth appears, enabling them to take over new ground. If you plant running bamboo near the edge of your lawn you will soon spot new growths appearing in your lawn, a fair distance away from the original ‘mother plant’.
Luckily for us in the UK, most bamboo varieties thrive in moist, well-drained soil and will prosper in most soil types, however they generally do better in acid soil. Although bamboo likes most soil types, you need to avoid extremes such as very wet or boggy ground and they do not really like dry conditions, and while varieties such as Sasa bamboo can be grown in shady areas, bamboo generally prefers the sun (don’t we all?!)
If you are about to plant bamboo in your garden, it is best done in the springtime to encourage strong root growth and canes before growth slows and the bamboo becomes dormant in the autumn.
You can feed your bamboo with a balanced fertiliser throughout the growing season to promote strong, healthy growth. Do not worry about removing fallen leaves from around the base of the plants as these will return nutrients to the plant as they decay over, time helping the plants to stay strong and healthy, reducing your expenditure on fertilisers and being kinder to the environment.
Once you have mastered the art of growing bamboo at home you may want to try making bamboo toilet paper or bamboo kitchen rolls, or you might want to leave that part to us and just buy them on line from our online shop!