Bamboo in Pots

We are always being asked as to what bamboo would best grow in a pot, so much so that we have decided to post this on our page.


Bamboo does grow in pots but there are many factors to consider before racing out and buying your pot.

Is the area it will be positioned in be in sun? (particularly summer sun)
Does the area get much wind?
What size/material pots are you using?
How tall do you want the bamboo to grow?

The problem we have here in Perth is that our climate is very hot and windy, especially during the warmer months.
Growing bamboo plants in pots in Perth’s semi-arid climate really does require some care and can be high maintenance once the bamboo establishes itself.


Clumping bamboo grows from the centre outwards, imagine dropping a pebble in a pond, the ripples travel outwards from the centre in much the same way that clumping bamboo grows.
If you are considering growing it in narrow planters (anything less than 500mm) be aware that the plant will not grow sideways to fill the trough. This means that you may need to add additional bamboos into the pot in order to achieve your screen etc. Each bamboo will grow outwards to whatever the size of the pot is. When the bamboo does not have ample room to grow it will very quickly fill the pot with root and you will find that there is no visible soil remaining in the pot.


On a hot summers day the bamboo will need moisture and as there will be no soil left in the pot to hold it, the bamboo will then stress due to a lack of water. (See image)


If you have a large lush canopy of leaf this will happen very quickly AND as the bamboo pulls any and all moisture from the pot it will become very top heavy (foliage) and the slightest gust of wind will blow it over.


Thin walled plastic or fiberglass pots are not advisable in full sun positions with bamboo as they dry the soil out very quickly as the suns radiant heat passes through the thin wall of the pot and dry’s the soil out. This normally makes the soil in the pot shrink (no moisture) and an air pocket will develop between the soil and the sides of the pot. When you go to water the plant you will see water running out of the drain holes at the bottom and, thinking you have given it ample water because of this, you will stop watering. In fact the plant has had NO water as the water has just travelled down the air pocket and out the drain hole.  With this in mind we always recommend an annual drenching with a soil wetting agent when planting in pots.


Be aware that when growing in pots you are never going to get the height of the plant that it would reach in the ground. Too much tall foliage acts like a sail and catches the wind and you will be picking the plant up every time there is a slight wind.  Additionally, the small pot cannot support the life of all the tall lush foliage.


If you are keen to plant in pots we recommend something such as half wine barrels. They hold a lot of soil and are relatively cheap for the size. Additionally, they are thick walled and the timber acts as a good insulator against the suns radiant heat. Just remember to put some drain holes in the bottom of the barrels.


When people question us about growing in pots and see that we are growing them in nursery pots in full sun they need to remember that as a nursery we are watering our plants up to 3-4 times per day in the heat of summer.


Another important tip on growing in pots is to avoid planting in pots with a lip on the inside (many fiberglass pots have this) as the new canes will get caught under this lip and it will make getting the plant out of the pot impossible. Another type of pot to avoid is ‘pot-bellied’ pots. When the bamboo outgrows the pot and you try to remove it from the pot you will quickly find this task impossible!


Growing bamboo in pots here in Perth’s harsh climate is possible, but the above factors need to be considered before you race out and buy all your materials.


We hope this has shed some light on this topic for you and we are happy to answer any questions you have and to give you the best, honest advice possible in relation to growing bamboo here in WA.

 

 


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