The Q&A Archives: Bamboo Suitability For House Plant

Question: Will Bissett Bamboo survive indoors in a southern exposure under the vagrancies of apartment heating?

Answer: Bamboos are really no different from the more ?usual? houseplants, and require the same amenities: well-drained and nutrient-rich soil, sufficient light, adequate humidity and fertilizer during the growing season. True bamboos are grasses, and grasses love to eat. As flowering is rare and sometimes detrimental (consuming the plant?s vigor) in bamboos, it is best to feed with a high-nitrogen, low potash fertilizer, i.e. water-soluble 30-10-10, although really most any balanced N-P-K fertilizer solution will do.

The generalization can be made that the larger the leaf, the less light it requires, but one also needs to take into account whether the bamboo is natively tropical or temperate. Temperate bamboos refer to the fact that the species is indigenous to a climate that provides a cold dormancy. When temperate bamboos are grown indoors, their environment is altered and the cold dormancy is not achieved. This is not damaging to the plant, but often results in leaf drop.

Some of the best bamboos to grow indoors include: Pleioblastus shibuyanus ?Tsuboi? - Indoor height up to 3 feet. A running species, grassy in appearance, with small white-striped leaves. Very vigorous. Does not tolerate hot sun. Prefers lower light conditions. Will lose vibrant variegation if the area is too dark.

Bambusa multiplex 'Tiny Fern? or ?Golden Goddess? - Indoor height 3 feet. Delicate leaves, fern-like. A dwarf form of B. multiplex rivereorum. Very adaptable to light conditions.

Indocalamus tessellatus - Indoor height 3 feet. Very large, 15-20-inch long leaves, held downwards. Tolerates very low light conditions and low humidity, very tough.

Chusquea coronalis - Indoor height 4 feet. Elegant and delicate, this bamboo needs a cool, humid environment but is well worth the extra effort. Annual dormancy comes in September, as leaves turn orange and it partially defoliates.

Thrysostachys siamensis - ?Monastery Bamboo? - indoor height 20 feet. Graceful yet strong. Small leaves on green culms. Moderate to high light required. Tolerates drought. Native to China, Burma, Thailand. Tropical.

The Phyllostachys species, including Bissett bamboo, are not good candidates for indoor growing, but the above suggestions should work well in your apartment.

Best wishes with your indoor garden!

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