How do I Grow Running Bamboo?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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To grow running bamboo, you should test the pH of the soil to ensure it is between 5.5 and 6.5. If the pH level of the soil is above or below the recommended level, you can add lime to raise it or peat moss to lower it. Loosen the soil with a garden fork, and dig a hole one to two feet (30 to 61 cm) deep, with any additional holes spaced at least three feet (76 cm) apart. Water the hole generously and position the bamboo plant inside it. The hole should be filled with dirt and watered again after the bamboo roots are covered.

Running bamboo is usually difficult to control once it starts spreading. For this reason, many people use various barrier methods to keep it contained. Using streams, ponds, sidewalks, and roads as natural barriers are the easiest containment methods. If these options are not available to you, it may be necessary to dig a trench around the planted area to keep the bamboo runners from spreading. The trench should be about 30 inches (76 cm) in width and depth, filled with gravel or concrete, and covered with soil at the top to disguise its presence.


Most types of running bamboo require full sun to partial shade in order to thrive, although there are some varieties that do well with very little light exposure. It is generally not a good idea to keep the soil around the bamboo too soggy. You can often tell if the plant is thirsty by observing the leaves; they tend to curl up when they need watering. A general purpose fertilizer, such as 8-8-8, should be added every spring after the first year of growth. Mulching around the base of the running bamboo should aid in controlling weed growth and keeping the soil moist.

Pruning may be necessary once a year to maintain the appearance of your bamboo. You do not have to exercise much caution when pruning running bamboo because unlike other plants, there is very little possibility of damaging it. Despite its resilience, it is still a good idea to avoid cutting bamboo off too closely to the ground. Thinning out stalks that are growing too thickly together and cutting back dead or yellowed culms, or above ground stems, can make a big difference in the attractiveness of your garden. You can normally grow more bamboo from the rhizomes, or underground stems, of your existing plant by digging them up, dividing them, and placing them in a new location.



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