How to Plant and Grow Bamboo

How to plant and grow bamboo. This wonder plant supplies the world with food, fuel and furniture as well as beautifies your garden.


| August/September 2000



Grow your own food, fuel and furniture by growing bamboo in your garden.

Grow your own food, fuel and furniture by growing bamboo in your garden.


PHOTO: RANDALL SCOTT

Learn how to plant and grow bamboo. Grow your own food, fuel and furniture using this wonder plant.

There's not much bamboo can't do. It can put food on your table, paper in your printer, a floor under your feet, furniture in your house and a fence around your yard. A fast-growing, woody grass, bamboo is one of the most versatile plants in the world. This article tells you how to plant and grow bamboo.

Despite its image as an exotic ornamental, bamboo can be grown as a farm crop in much of the United States. It adapts well in the South from Virginia to Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas, on the West Coast with summer watering, and in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Unlike truly non-native farm crops such as sugar beet, wheat, asparagus and kiwi, two species of bamboo are in fact indigenous to the Southeastern U.S.: river cane (Arundinaria gigantea) and switch cane (Arundinaria tecta). Still, you'd have to search far and wide to find bamboo in commercial production in this country.

Much of what is grown here is in the hands of bamboo lovers (we call ourselves bambuseros) who grow the plant as an ornamental in the above states, as well as in harsher climates such as those of New England, the mid-Atlantic region and the Midwest.

It's not that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) didn't try. Recognizing the potential particularly of Asian bamboos as a commercial crop, the USDA, between 1890 and 1960, paid plant explorers to find, select and import farmable bamboos. But while the agency succeeded in establishing these bamboos at its tropical and temperate research sites in Puerto Rico, Georgia and California, it failed in its ultimate goal of introducing bamboo to American agriculture. U.S. farmers did not plant bamboo then and few more are planting it now, despite its enormous potential as a food and fiber crop.

But times they are a-changin'. With other novel farm products such as kiwi, exotic mushrooms and ginseng all accepted by the American public, perhaps the day has come, at long last, for bamboo to be as well.





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