bamboo culms, green and black, forest

How Quickly Does Running Bamboo Grow and Spread?


Bamboo, specifically the running bamboo variety, is known for its rapid spread and vigorous growth. It can quickly colonize an area due to its ability to spread through rhizomes. These underground root systems extend horizontally and produce new shoots, allowing bamboo to spread rapidly.

The fast spreading nature of running bamboo can be both awe-inspiring and overwhelming. It demonstrates the remarkable resilience and tenacity of this plant species.

By comprehending how fast this type of bamboo spreads, landowners and gardeners can make informed decisions about planting, containment, and maintenance.

Key Takeaways

  • Running bamboo can spread rapidly and pose a threat to native vegetation.
  • Controlling the spread of running bamboo is crucial for preserving ecosystem balance and biodiversity.
  • Strategies such as strict containment measures, physical barriers, and regular monitoring can help manage and control its spread.
  • Selecting a suitable location, preparing the soil, and planting at the appropriate depth and spacing are important steps in planting running bamboo.

What is Running Bamboo?

Running bamboo is a type of bamboo that spreads rapidly through underground rhizomes, allowing it to cover large areas quickly. It is characterized by its ability to form dense thickets and can be invasive if not properly managed.

There are different species of running bamboo, including Phyllostachys aurea and Phyllostachys edulis, each with its own unique characteristics and growth habits.

Key Characteristics

The growth pattern of running bamboo is characterized by its extensive rhizome system, which allows it to spread rapidly and colonize large areas. Unlike clumping bamboo, running bamboo can grow aggressively and has the ability to spread up to several feet per year. This enables the bamboo plant to quickly establish itself in new locations.

The rhizomes, underground stems, play a crucial role in this rapid expansion as they send out shoots that develop into new culms, leading to the formation of dense stands. Various species of bamboo exhibit different rates of growth, with some being more vigorous than others.

How Fast Does Running Bamboo Spread?

Running bamboo can spread at a rate of 3 to 5 feet per year, covering large areas in a short period of time.

The growth and spread rate can be affected by various factors including:

  1. Sunlight: Bamboo plants require a good amount of sunlight to grow well. Lack of sunlight can slow down their growth rate.
  2. Soil pH: Bamboo prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil pH levels. Extreme pH levels can hinder nutrient absorption, affecting growth.
  3. Soil drainage: Bamboo plants need well-draining soil. Excess waterlogged soil can suffocate the roots and slow down growth.
  4. Competition: If bamboo is planted in close proximity to other plants or trees, it may experience competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight, which can impact its growth rate.
  5. Pests and diseases: Bamboo is susceptible to certain pests and diseases, such as bamboo mites, bamboo aphids, and fungal infections. Infestations or infections can weaken the plant and hamper growth.
  6. Bamboo age: Young bamboo plants typically have a slower growth rate compared to mature ones. As the plant establishes itself, the growth rate may increase.
  7. Climate: Different bamboo species have specific climate requirements. Some species thrive in tropical climates, while others prefer cooler temperatures. Growing bamboo in unsuitable climates can affect its growth rate.

Comparison with Clumping Bamboo

Clumping bamboo, also known as sympodial bamboo, is a distinct type of bamboo that grows in clumps rather than spreading horizontally. It forms tight clusters of culms and has a more compact growth habit compared to running bamboo.

Running bamboo tends to spread much faster due to its aggressive rhizome system, while clumping bamboo maintains a more contained growth pattern. It is perhaps better described as incrementally expanding rather than spreading.

Benefits of Running Bamboo

Running bamboo offers several advantages in landscaping and gardening. One of its key benefits is its fast growth, making it an ideal choice for creating privacy screens or windbreaks in a relatively short period of time.

Additionally, running bamboo can be used to add structure and texture to landscapes, as it can be pruned into various shapes and sizes.

Its versatility and rapid growth make running bamboo a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers alike.

Challenges with Running Bamboo

Running bamboo, while often prized for its rapid growth and attractive appearance, can present a number of challenges. One key issue with running bamboo is its invasive nature. It has the potential to spread aggressively and take over large areas of land if not properly managed.

bamboo spreading through forest

The invasive nature of running bamboo can lead to potential issues such as overgrowth and displacement of native vegetation. Its ability to spread quickly can cause it to dominate an area and outcompete other plants.

This can disrupt the balance of the ecosystem and reduce biodiversity. As a result, controlling the spread of running bamboo is crucial in order to preserve the health and diversity of natural habitats.

How to Manage and Control the Spread

To effectively manage and control the spread of running bamboo, implementing strict containment measures is crucial.

One effective strategy is to install a physical barrier or root pruning system around the planted area.

Regular monitoring and timely removal of any new shoots that emerge beyond the desired boundary are also essential to prevent competition with other plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the fastest growing type of bamboo?

A: The moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) is considered one of the fastest growing bamboo species. It is known to reach its full height of up to 90 feet in just a few years. Moso bamboo is commonly used for timber and is highly sought after due to its rapid growth and versatility.

Q: How can I make bamboo grow faster?

A: To encourage faster growth in bamboo, it is essential to provide optimal growing conditions. This includes providing adequate sunlight, watering regularly, and ensuring the soil is well-drained and rich in nutrients. Additionally, using a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for bamboo can promote faster growth and development.

Q: What is a bamboo barrier, and why is it important?

A: A bamboo barrier is a physical barrier installed underground to contain the spread of running bamboo. As running bamboo spreads through rhizomes (underground stems), it has the potential to invade and take over surrounding areas. Installing a bamboo barrier prevents the rhizomes from spreading uncontrollably and helps maintain the desired growth area for bamboo.

Q: How can I control the spread of bamboo?

A: To control the spread of bamboo, it is recommended to install a bamboo barrier around the designated area. The barrier should extend at least 30 inches deep to prevent rhizomes from escaping. Regularly inspect the barrier for any signs of rhizome growth and trim any shoots that appear outside of the designated area. Additionally, removing any dead or weak shoots can help divert energy towards new shoot growth within the designated area.

Q: How do bamboo roots grow?

A: Bamboo roots grow through rhizomes, which are underground stems. These rhizomes grow horizontally and can extend several feet away from the main plant. Over time, new shoots emerge from the rhizomes, and the bamboo grove expands. By understanding how bamboo roots grow, it becomes easier to manage and control the spread of bamboo.

Q: How long does it take for bamboo to reach its full height?

A: The time it takes for bamboo to reach its full height can vary depending on the species and growing conditions. In optimal conditions, some bamboo species can reach their full height within a few years, while others may take longer. It’s important to consider the specific bamboo variety and its growth habits when determining the expected time for achieving full height.


Running bamboo is a fast-spreading plant that can quickly take over an area if not properly contained. It has the ability to spread up to several feet in a year through its rhizome system.

Compared to clumping bamboo, running bamboo is more invasive and requires careful management to prevent it from becoming uncontrollable. Despite its challenges, running bamboo offers benefits such as privacy screening and erosion control.

To successfully plant and care for running bamboo, it is important to understand its growth habits and implement containment measures.