One of the exciting aspects of bamboo is that so many species make wonderful bonsai. For instance, the Lucky Bamboo, also called Lotus Bamboo or Pachira is a favorite among bonsai growers. In addition to making a beautiful choice for bonsai, bamboo, especially “Lucky” Bamboo is also said to bring good fortune to its owner. With this plant, you can plant a single stalk or 40, bundled up and displayed. In either case, the bonsai is simply mesmerizing.
Other great species to consider for bonsai include Pseudosasa, Sasa, Phylostachys, and Arundinaria. If you plant Bamboo as a bundle, what happens is that rhizomes are produced that coil up in the bottom of the container. With this, the soil is pushed up, meaning the rhizome must be cut back every year.
In most cases, Bamboo produces immature stems during the first year of growth. Then the following year, the Bamboo reaches its full height and maturity. The stems then last one to five seasons, which depends on the type of Bamboo being grown. To keep your Bamboo bonsai healthy, it is important to have a succession of stems.
To maintain Bamboo, you want to provide it with dappled light and partial shade. If kept outside, the Bamboo must have adequate protection from frost. As far as watering, Bamboo enjoys moist soil. However, to avoid root rot, you want to make sure the plant is never left standing in water. Then about every two weeks during the spring, you would need to feed it fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. In late spring and during the summer months, the Bamboo should be fed to help build up strength for the long stems.
To prune Bamboo, you want to remove all the old leaves in the fall and winter. Then occasionally, the stems would need to be thinned although you want to leave a few alone. If you have a dwarf species of Bamboo, cut the stems back in early spring prior to new growth appearing. For the larger Bamboo plants, peel back the higher leaf sheaths to control height.
Bamboo can be propagated simply by dividing clumps in early spring just prior to new growth. Then, repotting should be done every one to two years, using a good but basic bonsai soil. Best of all, Bamboo is primarily trouble free. The only problem is an infrequent slug, which can be controlled with an organic insecticide.