Bamboo appreciates plenty of water. Give water to new plantings once a day. The plant thrives in a moderately acidic, loamy soil and responds well to fertilizer high in nitrogen. In addition, bamboo benefits from a 2- to 3-inch mulch of compost, bark, grass clippings, leaves, or hay. Bamboo leaf droppings also act as mulch, nourishing the plant with silica, so you don't need to remove the leaves. Hardy bamboo likes sun but will grow in shade, though it won't get as large. Apply fertilizer just before new growth starts in the spring and then every two to four weeks through summer. After the first year, fertilizer isn't necessary unless you want the plant to spread and send up larger shoots. Left ungroomed, bamboo forms a thicket, frustrating the eye in a blur of intertwined stems and leaves. Each year, use a fine-toothed saw or sharp clippers to prune out selected culms, focusing on the oldest, then removing spindly or crowded ones in an overall thinning. Finally, strip off the lower branches on new growth left standing to expose the beauty of the culms.
Continued on page 3: The Right Bamboo for You