How much and how often to water bamboo

indoor bamboo over a blurred white and green background

Just like any other plant, bamboo requires three basic things to survive: soil, water, and sun. And as the caretaker of this beautiful plant, one of your biggest responsibilities is to give bamboo enough water. So if you are considering buying your first bamboo plant, or if one was entrusted to your care, it is one of the first questions any grower might ask: how often do I need to be watering my bamboo? There are many different species and growing conditions for bamboos, but in general, bamboo needs to be watered very often. 

The shallow rhizomes and roots of bamboo don’t need deep watering, but they must be watered at least once a week. Young bamboos and fresh transplants will require more water, and during the heat of summer, you might have to water them two or even three times a week. 

How much water does bamboo need?

If your bamboo plant is well established and is well directed in the ground, in decent soil with enough drainage, you must water it at least once a week. As with many types of grass, bamboo likes keeping some of the moisture in it, but the shallow roots don’t need very deep watering. And the roots must be allowed to dry out between the watering sessions.

We mostly think of bamboo being a tropical plant, and most species are. But they are mostly drought tolerant than you may expect. Once the bamboo is established enough, with a strong developed rhizome network, producing the fresh shoots regularly, it is incredibly resilient. Those hefty rhizomes may retain water in them as well.

How often should you water bamboo?

In general, you will need to water mature bamboo around 2 to 3 times a week when the weather is windy or hot. In normal weather conditions, water your plant around once a week. 

Also, make sure the soil is dry for around 2 to 3 inches before you water again, or look on for signs of brown lead tips or the curling leaves.

Can you grow bamboo directly in water?

Many people imagine bamboo growing in the tropical swamps and Japanese koi ponds. And it seems to be the latest trend for stores to sell bamboo in nothing but a container with 1” of water. But bamboo doesn’t normally grow this way. Many varieties of this so-called water bamboo are more adaptable to growing in such saturated soil. Still, even these may only survive a while soggy conditions, and they certainly won’t thrive. 

Over time, bamboo roots will start rotting if they grow directly in a mud hole or a pond (or if they grow in a flower vase inside of your home). Outdoors, you may also plant the bamboo plant near the edge of the pond of a waterway. But you will have to let this plant and its rhizomes decide for themselves just how close they go to the water.

Signs you are watering your bamboo too much or too little

There are a few signs you should look for when you are trying to determine if you are over or underwatering your bamboo plant. The very first thing to do is to check the soil. If you can wiggle your finger a few inches in the dirt, you may get a sound idea of how dry it is. If you may not detect any moisture at two or more inches, it is time to water. If for days on end your soil still remains muddy, chances are your plant will suffer from overwatering and the roots will begin to rot.

Your bamboo plant requires enough attention to grow and thrive in your garden or home. Look into the specific type of bamboo you are growing to understand the specific conditions it requires. But a general rule of thumb is to water your bamboo a couple of times a week, while also allowing for the soil and roots to dry between watering.

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