Help me grow the indoor bamboo garden of my dreams
March 21, 2008 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to grow bamboo in a container indoors (I have a sunny south-facing window that it can live in front of). Any advice about the best varieties, how to get it to grow tall, and where to get a plant (I'm in NYC) would be much appreciated. (NB: I am NOT looking for info on "lucky bamboo" plants, I want the real thing)
posted by agent99 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I bought my stuff for my plant at Ikea a while ago. I got a square clear glass vase (about 6-8 inches tall, ~4 inches wide and ~6 inches long, $4 bucks), a beautiful, healthy bamboo plant with some sweet spiral action (3 bucks or so) and a bag of medium sized polished stones for about 3 bucks. I stuck the bamboo in, put the rocks in around it, and filled it up with water. It's been growing really well, and I haven't taken the best care of it. The leaves are healthy and I believe it's growing taller. Good luck!

PS: One of my friends had one, and it started looking not-so-great. He purchased some Ortho brand liquid plant food, and it perked right up (in case you ever have problems).
posted by whiskey point at 9:49 AM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: I would guess that bamboo plants from NYC nurseries would be really expensive, so you should probably look for a bamboo farm online that sells them by mail. Even my local nursery sells single bamboo plants in five gallon containers for up to $100 or more, and I can get the same plants online for $30-50 each. I get all my hardy outdoor (non-invasive) bamboo from a farm that sells online from Southern Oregon (I'm in NW Oregon) and they can ship whole plants in a box just fine. I know there are bamboo farms in Massachusetts doing cold-hardy varieties (I've seen ads in garden magazines I read) and I'm sure down in the Carolinas there must be farms selling online. I'd suggest some google searching for bamboo plants (general varieties like "golden bamboo" will probably work fine in a container with adequate water and soil). You can probably save half the money that way.
posted by mathowie at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

whiskey point seems to be talking about lucky bamboo. Doesn't real bamboo need a much deeper pot? (I'm sorry for no info, I'm interested in this question as well).
posted by agregoli at 10:53 AM on March 21, 2008

Agreed, I believe whiskey point is referring to lucky bamboo, too.
posted by limeonaire at 12:08 PM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: I'm not sure of the best place to buy bamboo in New York - but I can suggest these varieties for indoor uses.

Alphonse Karr - nice looking, but requires high/bright light
Buddha's Belly - very drought tolerant, does fine in low light
Arrow - does well in lower light
Dwarf white stripe - only grows up to 2-3 ft and does well with moderate light

You'll definitely want to do a little research on the care of whatever variety you get for it to grow optimally. Bamboo is a grass as I'm sure you know so it's not supposed to have permanent leaves - if your leaves start looking scraggly, just hack it off and you'll have a much healthier and nicer looking plant.

Hopefully that helps you out a little bit - or gives you some leads to do some more research.
posted by Craig at 12:27 PM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: Ooooh! I found you a great link from the American Bamboo Society (of all things!) Growing Bamboo Indoors - they have care instructions, background info, general tips and some great recommendations that I forgot.
posted by Craig at 12:36 PM on March 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Ikea. I bought three "sprigs" of bamboo over a year ago, put them in a glass container with rocks, and water, add water every few days, and it has done wonderfully virtually by itself!
posted by nikksioux at 12:43 PM on March 21, 2008

Sorry, maybe this is "lucky bamboo", I don't know the difference.
posted by nikksioux at 12:45 PM on March 21, 2008

Response by poster: whiskey point & nikksioux: the plant that looks like bamboo and grows in water, sometimes in a spiral, is not bamboo at all, but Dracaena sanderiana, sometimes called "lucky bamboo."
posted by agent99 at 12:51 PM on March 21, 2008

Thamnocalamus tessellatus is an African bamboo. It's a hardy clumping bamboo rather than a runner. Available here for $29 for a 1 gal. size
posted by X4ster at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: I think you already have some great resources, but I just wanted to mention Burt's Bamboo, whom I've ordered from and been quite pleased with in the past. There's also a list of species for indoor container growing on their site.
posted by vers at 6:48 AM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

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