Before receiving your bamboo you should have picked out a place to plant. Most of the larger bamboos will need at least a few hours of direct sun or filtered sun all day. They may grow in areas without much sun but will be much slower growing and will be spread out quite a bit. If you can plant the bamboo near water it will be happiest. This does not mean the bamboo should be planted in a wet area. Most bamboos do not like wet roots. If you are in a colder climate and trying a bamboo that is borderline hardy to your zone, then try to pick a well protected area. On the south side of a wall or building is an idal spot. Anything to help block the north wind will help. Of coure you should plan on mulching heavily.
When you receive a new order of bamboo try to plant as soon as possible. If you are unable to plant as soon as it arrives, cut a slit in the plastic and paper surrounding the rootball and add some water, a cup or so. Place the plants in a shaded area until you can plant it. It’s not a bad idea to mist the leaves a few time during the day. When ready to plant, dig a hole just a little larger than the rootball and place the plant so that the top of the rootball is even with the top of the hole (groundlevel).Some nurseries suggest digging a hole much larger than the rootball. This is not necessary. A better method is to take a pick and break up the sides of the hole allowing openings for the roots or rhizomes to spread out. Backfill with the soil removed from the hole or any good top soil. Water thoroughly after backfilling. I like to leave a dish shaped depression around the plant to make watering easier. I also like to mulch with leaves or straw in order to keep the plant from drying out. It is very important to keep the plant watered for the first few weeks but don’t over do it! More plants have been harmed or killed from over watering than from underwatering. Let the ground dry out a little between waterings. You may need to water regularly the first year, depending on your climate and soil, and how much sun or wind exposure the plant receives. After the bamboo has been in the ground for a few months you will rarely need to water except during drought conditions. However, providing plenty of water wil help speed up the growth of your bamboo.
In the spring use a general purpose fertilizer (after plant is well established) such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. Even better is a layer of rotted manure. I have used both with good results. Leaf or hay mulch will both protect the plant from the cold and from drying out. This will also keep weeds under control and help enrich the soil as it decomposes. A healthy, well fed bamboo is the best protection against pest and disease.
In general the hardy bamboos are pretty tough and will grow in most soils and locations. Most prefer a good bit of sun but several will grow in almost total shade. For my larger bamboos I try to pick a location where they will get lots of sun but I’ve planted a few in much more shaded areas. Those in the shade grow slower and seem to spread out more between culms. The ideal location would be lots of sun, beside water. (Creek, pond, lake.) Bamboos like water but don’t like to gemost of the time.(Although they will thrive next to such an area.) Many of the smaller bamboos grow well in a partially shaded area but some prefer full sun. If I have the choice I try to plant where they will receive morning sun but be protected from evening sun. My bamboos also thrive on hill sides as well as valleys and level ground.
If you plan to grow your bamboo indoors keep in mind that it prefers the higher ambient moisture levels found outdoors. It’s a good idea to mist the leaves of indoor bamboo and place in an area that gets lots of light. We often get request for bamboo to grow indoors. In response to this we have page offering suggestions on species and detailed information on growing bamboo indoors. If you still have questons, email me and I’ll be glad to make some suggestions.
On a final note, I just want to remind you that how fast your bamboo grows and spreads depends a great deal on you. If you will fertilize regularly, water during dry spells, and mulch heavily all year, you will be rewarded with much faster growth and healthier plants.