Successfully transplanting bamboo plants depends on a number of factors, including timing and digging methods. A variety of bamboo species work in gardens, but they all have similar transplanting requirements and techniques.
When moving new container-grown bamboo into the garden, plant in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Choosing a cloudy day before or after a light rain shower minimizes transplant shock because bamboo are highly sensitive to lack of moisture around the roots.
Never divide or transplant established bamboo when new shoots are growing. Either transplant very early in the spring before new growth starts or late in the autumn after growth slows. As when planting new bamboo, choose an overcast day.
Bamboo species grow best in well-drained soil that stays moist and is rich in organic matter. Though the soil should not be allowed to dry out, avoid swampy locations with standing water. For soil that is not ideal, add organic matter like well-rotted compost before planting. Spread 1 to 2 inches of compost over the soil surface and work it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Grow bamboos in full sun to part shade. Some types of bamboo require more sun than others, so check individual species requirements before planting. 'Green Panda' bamboo, for example, needs shade during the afternoon to protect it from the heat of the day, while black bamboo thrives in either full or partial sun locations.
Young plants in particular benefit from filtered sunlight throughout the day. In locations where no natural shade exists, stretch cheesecloth or another lightweight fabric over poles to create a canopy. Remove this canopy after the bamboo starts sending up new shoots.
Use a sharp shovel when you're transplanting bamboo. Remember to sterilize all gardening and cutting tools before use. If you're moving a clumping bamboo, use the shovel to cut around the plant about 12 inches away from the base. Rock the shovel underneath the clump and lift it out of the ground. Place the root ball into a bucket of water.
For running bamboos, you may need an ax or chainsaw to cut the roots. Wear protective clothing and eyewear to prevent injury from thrown splinters. Use the shovel, ax or chainsaw to cut through the roots and earth around the plant to a depth of 12 inches. Start about 12 inches away from the base of the bamboo unless you're dividing a clump into several sections. In that case, you'll have to cut through the center of the clump as well. Once cuts are made, lift the same way you would a clumping bamboo.
Things You'll Need
- Sharp shovel, sterilized with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water
- Ax or chainsaw (optional)
- Bucket of water large enough to hold the root ball
- Organic mulch, like dried leaves
Dig a hole the same depth as the root ball and slightly wider. Place the bamboo clump in the hole and fill in with soil. Make sure bamboo is planted at the same depth it was growing previously. This holds true for moving established bamboo plants, as well as for plants you're moving from a container into the garden. Water the newly planted bamboo immediately, and mulch with an organic mulch.
To control the spread of running bamboo, install a root barrier when planting. Dig a hole 2 to 3 feet deep that slants outward at the top. Make the hole the same size as you want the mature bamboo clump to grow. Line the hole with high-density polypropylene 40 mil or heavier, and tape any seams. Make sure the barrier is 2 to 3 inches taller than the surrounding soil so you can cut any rhizomes that try to grow over it.
Continue to water often enough to keep the soil moist for the first two years after planting bamboos. Once established, bamboos need less frequent water but should never be allowed to dry out completely.