Incorporating Bamboo Into Your Landscaping
By: Rene Thompson
Bamboo is a ubiquitous tropical plant with thousands of uses, ranging from the building of tiki huts to the making of musical instruments and even acupuncture needles. For many cultures around the globe, bamboo represents strength and long life. In many areas of the world, bamboo poles are a traditional building material. Although most varieties of bamboo are native to Asia, perhaps bamboo’s most famous role is in tropical tiki bar construction. A tiki bar just isn’t a tiki bar without the characteristic bamboo poles and thatched roof. If you love the tiki-hut look and want to extend this ambiance to the rest of your backyard, or even bring the tiki mood indoors, consider planting bamboo.
Some varieties of bamboo can grow more than a foot each day, reaching a top height of over 130 feet. Bamboo has a reputation for growing quickly to overtake any space. Of course, you don’t have to plant this variety in your yard! The smallest varieties of bamboo grow to be just a few inches tall, and can easily be grown in a container indoors. There are more than a thousand different species of bamboo, so you’re sure to find at least a few that will fit into your plans for your backyard or your living room. Even invasive species can be planted as long as you plan for barriers to keep the bamboo from spreading throughout your yard. Other bamboo species will stay nicely in a clump and are easily tended.
Growing bamboo successfully requires plenty of light and humidity, along with well-drained soils. Bamboo plants are grasses, and will not grow well in saturated ground. You should not water the plant every day. Instead, check your bamboo’s soil to determine when to water it. If the leaves start to curl, it’s a sign that your bamboo plant needs more water, while drooping leaves are a sign of too much water in the soil. Because they are used to tropical and temperate zones, they need plenty of light and air circulation if you want them to thrive. Traditional growers of bamboo often raise the pots of new plants on chopsticks so that air can circulate under the plant.
If you are growing bamboo plants indoors, mist them with a spray bottle to mimic their naturally humid environment. You can also place the potted bamboo on a tray of pebbles and water. The evaporating water will create humidity around your bamboo plants. Over time, bamboo will acclimate to your indoor conditions.
Indoors or out, bamboo is a beautiful addition to any home. If you are looking for an attractive, natural look, whether you are a tiki culture aficionado or simply love the idea of sitting on a tropical island, consider growing your own bamboo. The unmistakable look of bamboo is immediately associated with islands of the South Pacific, creating a calming and exotic effect. Of course, once you’ve added bamboo, why not add a few tiki torches, tiki masks, or other tropical pieces to truly complete your home’s island-style transformation?
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