Bamboo Farming USA

How do you Plant Acres of Bamboo?



There are several ways to secure the plants for planting acreage.
•  Buy nursery plants in pots.
•  Find a grove of bamboo, dig it up and relocate it.
•  Find a grove; cut it to the ground. Dig the small regrowth a few months later.
•  Buy tissue culture plants; grow them to sustainable size in pots. Plant them in the field.


Another approach is to work with existing groves. Buy them or lease them from the land owner. Manage them on their original site. Remove dead canes, leaning canes, canes that are too small. Add fertilizer. A powerful chipper to get rid of the poles is a useful tool. Spread the bamboo chips back onto the grove. The renovated grove will produce new shoots  the following spring. Mark the year of shooting on the shoots that you allow to grow up. These poles will be sellable three years later.

You must plan for irrigation! At least for the first two years. The more you irrigate, the faster the bamboo establishes. Bamboo needs good drainage and ample water.Apply at least an inch a week during the growing season  -  when deciduous trees have leaves. Moso in particular thrives on summer water. It does not like saturated soil in winter. Fewer plants and more irrigation is a better way to allocate finances than more plants and reliance on rain. New plants need daily watering; twice a day is better if the weather is hot. After three weeks, watering schedule can cut back to once or several times a week.
Mulch the new plants carefully. On the rootball itself, only put light mulch. Outside the rootball make a thick layer several feet wider than the rootball. Between rows or well beyond the new plants you can grow a crop or  plant a cover crop. One of my friends planted his plants in the very light shade of pine trees that were part of his pasture for miniature horses. He  fenced the young plants individually to prevent the horses from eating them. In time he will have pasture with islands of mixed timber bamboo and pines.

During the first year, you can drip irrigate just the pot (rootball) of the plant and the immediate surrounding soil. The second year, your sprinkler head should cover at least a 5 foot circle. Don't irrigate the alleys between the rows of bamboo unless you have an interim crop growing there or a cover crop. 

When your bamboos close canopy, you will need a method of irrigation that wets the entire acreage. If you have planted the bamboos close together like 10 foot on center, canopy will close in three years. If you plant them further apart like 20 or 60 feet, canopy will close in five or 6 years 

Bamboo is a grass. Grass grows faster and has greener leaves when amply fertilized. If you decide to fertilize newly planted plants, fertilize the root ball. Do not fly an airplane over the acreage and fertilize the weeds and grasses between the rows. Pamper your young bamboos by keeping them weed free, well watered, and having rich green leaves. In Seattle I found that bamboo responds quickly to foliar fertilizing. If your bamboos are pale green, it may mean only that they need water. However, it may mean it is time to spray their leaves with liquid fertilizer.

Sometimes you can relocate an existing grove.

In this photo, divots have been cut in the bamboo grove. The bobcat can then lift the root ball and canes right out of the ground. Bamboo has shallow roots. Its rhizomes  interlock like turf grass. A newly relocated bamboo like this needs lots of water for the first month or so after digging.

Greg White Hunt posted this and the folioing photos and on Facebook. He wrote: "Bobcat moving  P.nigra bory grove. How do you move an entire grove? One bite at a time w/ plenty of water before and after."

Use Trencher to cut divots

Cut divots that fit into the bucket of the bobcat. 

Transplanted, not yet staked.

Full size bamboos move well but require a lot of staking to remain upright. Staking must be designed to
allow tops to move freely while root balls are stationary.  


Divots loaded on Flatbed.

I recommend that a tarp be placed on the flatbed. Once the divots are loaded onto the  tarp on top of the flatbed, wrap the tarp around the root balls to prevent the roots from drying out. Wrap shade cloth around all leaves to prevent desiccation. Branches will fold upwards towards top of pole to make a thin "rooster tail".

In a landscape situation, this kind of move is practical because of being able to create an instant grove. Nurserymen usually move a grove like this into a shady area where they are watered and overhead sprinkled several times a day. The  plants stay for a month or two to harden off and recover from the move. They then are moved into the sun for further hardening off before being sold into a landscape.

Bamboos need to be planted at the same depth as before they were dug.Do not put dirt on top of the rootballs/divotsWorkers tend to attempt prevent the plants from blow-over by burying the rootball. This kills the bamboo. Bamboos dug out of a grove need serious, well designed staking, daily misting and twice daily watering. Not practical on a large scale.

If you move a whole grove, consider either 1. cutting the tops off while leaving plenty of branches and leaves or 2. cutting off every other branch to reduce the ease of the plant blowing over. Stake carefully so the rootball can not move.


Potted plants will not blow over; are acclimated to full sun.


It takes a lot of plants. This is a collection of 300 three gallon moso seedlings. The plants were grown by Georgia Bamboo, a wholesale nursery.

Prepare the rows.


We decided to leave the grass cover. We would just plough the rows where the bamboo would be planted. Behind the tractor is a double moldboard plough. The location is a former pasture.



Once we got the first row in, we aligned the rest with the first. 

Set out the plants.


The trailer is 15 feet long. We use it to measure the placement  of the plants.

Plant in the ground!


There is NO DIRT on top of the root ball. Notice the rhizomes that circled the pot. The soil around the pot has been shaped into a bowl. Water given to the plant will fill the bowl rather than running off. 

Three Hundred Planted.

The bamboo starts are hard to see. New shoots are coming up. In two months they will be twice as big and much easier to see.

Good quality plants are rooted out well!


What a nice root ball. Plenty of rhizome and root development but the plant has not been in the pot too long for healthy growth in the field. It is not pot bound. 

Leave the grass between the rows.


After the rows were ploughed, we ran a harrow over hthem to break up the cloda of grass.

Leave an access road.


We ran a road down the middle of the plantings and perimeter roads on all four sides. We wanted to be sure that we did not have to drag moso poles too far to our truck and trailer. Moso poles will be 50 to 75 feet tall and weigh 250 pounds.

Augur the holes


We mounted a 15 inch augur on the back of a  tractor. It dug the right size hole for our pots.

Mulch plants!


Mulch is applied lightly on top of the root ball and more heavily further out. Ideally heavy mulch would cover the part of the row empty of plants. 

How this field will look in ten years.


This photo is Japanese timber, not moso. Nevertheless it gives the idea of what this field will look like in 5 to 10 years. The canes will be farther apart and the grove will be more open. 


Use the regrowth

This grove was dug for large plants for a landscape job. The holes show where plants were removed. What will happen is that the rhizomes that remain in the ground between the holes will send up small canes the following spring. All of these can be dug and planted in the field. They will be well rooted. The leaves will be used to full sun. They won't be blown over and will not need staking. 
In other words, a practical way to relocate an existing grove is to cut it down. Sell the poles if possible. Feed the tops to livestock or shred it for mulch.The following spring when new shoots have opened their leaves, dig the grove entirely. No staking will be required.