I’ve always had a hate-love relationship with my bamboo plants. When I was still a novice gardener, I didn’t know much.
I thought my bamboo plants were very drought-tolerant and didn’t need a lot of water at all. So I planted them and then … just kind of forgot about them.
When I went for a walk through my garden one day, I wasn’t very impressed to see the many yellow bamboo leaves and the stems were starting to brown too.
I learned that bamboo needs regular watering, together with sunlight and well-draining soil to grow well.
How Often to Water Bamboo?
In general, you’ll need to water mature bamboo 2-3 times a week when the weather is windy or particularly hot. In “normal” weather, water your plant at least once a week. Also, ensure the soil is dry for 2-3 inches before you saturate the area around your bamboo with water, or look for signs of brown leaf tips or curling leaves before watering.
Bamboo Watering Guide
How often you water your bamboo depends on whether it is newly planted, a more mature bamboo with its root system firmly established in the soil, or whether you are growing it in a pot.
Watering Your Newly Planted Bamboo
When I plant new bamboo in well-draining soil, I ensure I take extra good care of it, at least for the first year of its life.
This is an important life stage as I need to protect my plant from drought as well as from weeds competing for water.
I also make a depression in the soil around the area where I planted my bamboo, and then I fill it with water.
Once the soil is dry, which is on average around every 2-3 days, depending on weather, I water my plant well. However, if it is very hot, I water it 3-4 times per week.
In winter, I only water it about once a week.
You can move your bamboo, divide it, or propagate it after this first year.
The same watering advice applies to newly propagated bamboo. When I propagate a new rhizome cutting, I also water the soil 2-3 times a week as it needs more water to grow new shoots.
I ensure the soil is moist, not soggy to help the baby plant grow optimally.
Watering Established Bamboo
On average, it takes about 3 years for bamboo to develop a proper root system. Once it is established, I don’t need to water it as much or as frequently as I did during the first year of planting it.
When it doesn’t rain, I water my bamboo every 7-10 days; however, I first check that the soil is dry, and then I give it water.
Watering Bamboo in a Pot
I plant some of my bamboo plants in a pot, which I keep closer to the house for its aesthetic appeal.
Any plant that is potted generally needs more water than if you plant it in your garden, and I’ve found that my bamboo is no different.
I check my potted bamboo daily by sticking my finger in the soil. If the soil is dry up to the 1-2 inch mark, I water my plant.
If I am going away for a long weekend or on vacation, I add mulch to help retain water better.
Signs Your Bamboo Is Underwatered
I sometimes worry that I underwater my bamboo so I’ve learned that there are several signs to watch out for:
I wiggle my finger into the soil for several inches so I’ll get an indication of how dry the ground is.
If the soil isn’t moist for about 2-3 inches deep, then I know I need to water my bamboo.
If my bamboo is thirsty, then it’s not long before you see leaf curling.
However, this can also happen if my plant gets intense sunlight or if it is waterlogged, so I rule out these first by checking on the leaves when the sun is down and checking how wet the soil is.
Browned Leaf Tips
But this can also be because of overwatering or heat, so if it has been very hot, I water my bamboo, but if the weather’s been normal, then I don’t water it for a week and see if the brown tips disappear.
If they do, then my plant may have been watered too much.
Signs Your Bamboo is Overwatered
You might have figured out that I’d worry about my bamboo plants being overwatered too. You are right. Here are the signs that my bamboo is overwatered:
- The leaves are yellow.
- The canes have started rotting.
- The leaves may curl.
- The leaf tips might be black or brown.
- The plant’s soil is boggy, soggy, or mucky.
As mentioned, curling leaves or the brown or black tip may also be an indication of too much direct sunlight or underwatering.
Rule these out first before you reduce the water you give your plant.
Mulching Your Bamboo
Adding mulch around your bamboo plants is important both in hot and dry climates as well as cold winters.
In a climate that’s dry and hot, the water evaporates faster, and your bamboo can get thirsty, fast. Mulch helps your soil retain moisture.
Before you add mulch, water the dry soil well. Alternatively, place the mulch and water your soil with a drip line to not soak the soil but still get water to your plant.
In cold winters, the mulch insulates the rhizomes. The only con about mulch in winter is that it makes it challenging to check how moist the soil is.
I usually just push the mulch aside, stick my finger in (like I normally do), and water if the soil is dry. I water and then put the mulch back.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Often to Water Bamboo
Do bamboo plants need a lot of water?
Bamboo plants like to be watered a lot, but soil that drains well is key to your bamboo flourishing. When the soil’s completely dry, saturate the entire bamboo planting area. You can also just water the area around the base, or clump, of your plant.
How do I know if my bamboo needs water?
Your bamboo plant will need water if the soil is dry. The easiest way to check this is to stick your finger 2-3 inches deep, and if it’s dry, then thoroughly water your bamboo. Other signs your bamboo needs water is if the leaves are browning around the tips or curling into themselves; however, curling leaves can happen if your plant gets too much direct sunlight or if it has been overwatered, so rule out these causes before you water.
The Final Drop
Even though they are quite drought-resistant, bamboo plants need to be watered well and frequently. The best way to ensure proper watering of the bamboo is to check the soil. If it is dry, water your plants.
Newly planted bamboo will need more frequent watering, while you can water it less after 3 years once the rhizomes have properly grown.
Add mulch in dry climates where it is hot and also in cold winters to help retain the moisture in the soil and to insulate your rhizomes.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.