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There’s something exotic about growing bamboo isn’t there? It’s always fascinated me. Probably because there are no plants remotely like bamboo that are native to my part of the world.
At about the age of 12, I started to dream of travel. I’d never been outside the UK, I hadn’t even ventured to Scotland or Ireland. I’d only been to Wales on the bus with my nan. But my head was filled with ideas and destinations I’d only seen watching Life on Earth with David Attenborough on the TV.
I began to adorn my bedroom with pictures of far-away places, a jungle of houseplants, bamboo curtains, and raffia mats. All my hard-earned cash went into buying new plants and accessories to transform that little space into my own oasis of calm and tranquility.
Back then I’d never seen a bamboo plant in real life. If I had, I’m sure I’d have tried to sneak one of those into my room too. It would have been the perfect way to keep my sister out 😅.
Today there are lots of varieties of bamboo available to buy. So if you’re looking to create a little hideaway of your own, or to give your space a mystical air, read on…
Why Use Bamboo Planter Boxes
Ok, so you might not be thinking about growing bamboo in your bedroom. But growing bamboo in your outdoor space can be an attractive and effective way to separate your garden into different areas.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if your neighbors didn’t have a front-row seat when you and your partner relaxed in the hot tub after work?
Or maybe you just don’t want a view of the garbage cans as you enjoy your morning coffee al fresco.
Whatever the reason, adding height and separation to your garden can be a great way to add interest.
Splitting your space into different areas can make it appear bigger too.
If you’ve considered bamboo in the past but didn’t buy it, were you put off by the horror stories floating around?
People who told you the plant took over their whole garden in a matter of weeks… That they had to get a JCB digger in to get it out?
Whilst it’s true that bamboo grows super fast — that’s one of the reasons it’s so useful — growing bamboo in a planter restrains the plant without stunting its growth.
Sidebar: want to find out more about why bamboo is so amazing? Read more on our Why Bamboo page.
Choosing the right type of bamboo is essential too. Let’s find out more about that…
What Type of Bamboo to Choose for Your Planter Boxes
There are literally hundreds of varieties of bamboo.
Plants come in all shapes and sizes and a multitude of colors too. But the most important difference between them is how they grow. They’re categorized by their root type (or rhizome) and fall into two main groups:
The first is runners. Their roots run and spread underground at a staggering speed if not managed (think the vines in Jumanji, ok, maybe not quite that quick). Bamboo runners can cover vast areas in a short space of time. With the right management, they can look fabulous in larger gardens and areas where a lot of ground cover is needed. Understandably, they’re not ideal for planters so let’s move on.
The second type is clumpers – these are our guys. Clumpers grow roots in clumps that don’t stray far from the plant itself. Growth is slower too. They’ll still want to get bigger though. So you can’t leave them alone indefinitely – we’ll talk a bit more about that later.
So, when you go shopping for bamboo to fill your planters, make sure you choose a clumping bamboo.
After that, you’ll want to consider where your bamboo is going to live…
- How hot or cold is it likely to get?
- Will there be any shade? (Some bamboos aren’t fans of too much direct sunlight)
- How tall do you want it to grow?
- How much space do you have for your planter(s)?
Think about all these things and choose a bamboo plant that is best suited to your environment. If in doubt, make sure you check in with your local garden center or bamboo expert to be sure.
Then it’s time to think about your planter…
What are Bamboo Planter Boxes and How Do You Use Them?
A bamboo planter box can be made from any box that’s large and sturdy enough to accommodate your new bamboo. Popular choices of materials include:
Unless you find a planter that’s super strong you might want to avoid plastic containers. Often the roots of your bamboo plant will push against the planter. Plastic planters may give up the fight and crack under the pressure.
Bamboo likes water, but it doesn’t like to be waterlogged. So any planter you choose should be able to provide adequate drainage.
Choosing a planter that has short legs is a good idea too. That way it’s easy for any excess water to drain away from the roots. And if the roots start to poke through the bottom of the planter you can trim them back.
Another thing to think about is the height of your plant. Bamboo caught in the wind can often cause lighter containers to topple over. On windy or exposed sites make sure pots are weighty enough to keep your bamboo upright.
Bamboo likes fertile soil with good aeration and drainage. Use good quality potting soil where possible. Add some stones or old pot chippings at the bottom of the planter to provide extra drainage if you have them.
What to Consider When Buying Planter Boxes
Something we haven’t already talked about is the size of the planter.
Your bamboo plant will need room to grow and plenty of space for its roots. Try not to underestimate the size of the container you’ll need. The smallest would be around 18” x 18” x 18” (45 x 45 x 45 cm).
If you’re planning on putting more than one plant into your planter, make sure they each have enough room to grow.
How to Make Your Own DIY Planter Boxes
Square or rectangular wooden planters are pretty simple to make. Building them yourself is a cost-effective option as large planters are often expensive to buy.
In this video, you’ll see how Matthew makes a stunning wooden planter for his bamboo plants. Note that he leaves drainage holes at the bottom of the planter and lines it with mesh to stop the soil from escaping.
How to Care for Your Bamboo Planters
Plants in containers always need watering more often than those in the ground.
Make sure you give your plants plenty of water in the growing season. If you use mulch on the soil’s surface it will help keep moisture in.
Slow-release fertilizer pellets are a low-maintenance way of keeping soil fertile and your plant fed.
If you live in an area where it gets cold you’ll need to protect your bamboo plant when the temperature drops. Wrap your planter in a couple of layers of fleece or bubble wrap to protect the roots when you know a cold snap is coming.
Ok, so we already said that clumping bamboo doesn’t grow as fast as the running type. But it does grow steadily, and the roots are BIG. If your bamboo looks like it’s getting a bit big for your planter, it’s a good idea to take it out of the pot and divide it into two. You can start a new bamboo plant with the piece you’ve removed.
With all that effort spent looking after your bamboo plant, don’t forget to look after your planter too…
Give it a regular inspection to make sure there’s no root damage. And don’t forget to give wooden and bamboo planters a coat or two of a natural wood preserver such as linseed oil each year. This helps them to stay water resistant and avoid rot.
References and Continued Reading
I found these guides tremendously helpful and you surely will too.