bamboo gardenTropical bamboos are an often overlooked possibility for landscaping in southwest Florida. Bamboo is in the true grass family. Bamboos are some of the fastest growing plants in the world. They are capable of growing 60 cm (24 in.) or more per day due to a unique rhizome-dependent system. However, the growth rate is dependent on local soil and climatic conditions.

Like other grasses, bamboo has relatively shallow, fibrous roots, which serve mainly to anchor the plant. Swollen underground stems, or “rhizomes,” store nutrients. Bamboos can be propagated by cuttings for commercial purposes.

Bamboos can be used as specimen plants, as background or in mixed plantings. They pair beautifully with patios and doorways and water features, although leaf drop would be a problem by an unscreened swimming pool. Many bamboos thrive as container plants, and some can be grown indoors or as bonsai.

The enormous variety of tropical bamboo species available means that the homeowner has a great choice of sizes, leaf textures, and even colors. Some bamboos have upright habits, while others spread out at the top in a fan shape, and still others maintain arching or weeping growth patterns. Foliage may be delicate or bold, solid-colored or variegated.

Bamboos like fairly rich, slightly acidic soil with good drainage, and require at least 4 hours of good sunshine. Dig the planting hole wider than deep. It helps to add composted organic material such as Black Cow when refilling the hole. It may be necessary to guy larger plants until their roots are established. New plants may need daily watering for the first month. Gradually taper off to once every one to two weeks.