Bamboo is a structurally beautiful plant that can serve many purposes in your garden. Densely growing, outdoor canes can act as a natural privacy barrier, pruned canes are perfect as trellises, and growing smaller ones indoors can introduce a splash of architectural interest. All while lending an element of exotic elegance to your spaces. But, how do we support the health and vitality of these equatorial evergreens?
In the wild, bamboo feeds off dense, tropical foliage that consistently returns nourishment to the soil, as it breaks down. Luckily, even those of us who don’t live near a rainforest can grow healthy, tropical perennials like these by learning to define the best fertilizer for bamboo.
- Choosing The Best Bamboo Fertilizers
- 6 Best Bamboo Fertilizer Reviews
- 1. Miracle-Gro All Purpose Shake n' Feed 12-4-8
- 2. Lawn Star Rapid Green & Growth Liquid Fertilizer 30-0-0
- 3. Down to Earth Blood Meal Fertilizer Mix 12-0-0
- 4. Maxicrop Organic Seaweed Extract 5-2-5
- 5. EarthPods Bamboo + Bonsai Fertilizer Pods .2-.2-.4
- 6. Grow More Lucky Bamboo 2-2-2
- How To Fertilize Bamboo
- When To Apply Fertilizer
- Best Bamboo Fertilizer Conclusion
Choosing The Best Bamboo Fertilizers
The best way to maintain healthy, vigorously-growing bamboo is to understand exactly what it needs. Effective fertilizers for bamboo are surprisingly dissimilar. This is due to outdoor and indoor bamboo varieties having different nutritional needs, despite being part of the same plant family. Treating them the same may actually result in them failing.
One thing they have in common though is the type of fertilizer available for them. These can be either slow-release, like spikes or granules. Or a water-soluble type for a quicker effect.
Now, here’s where we get to bond with our bamboo. What kind of nutrients help them thrive? The answer lies in knowing the best NPK balance to meet the unique needs of each type.
A study published in the International Journal of Phytoremediation demonstrates that the right combination of micro and macronutrients will trigger an increase in the number of culms (in clumping bamboo types) and shoots (from rhizome cultivars). Creating a fuller, healthier appearance. This is especially advantageous when you’re growing outdoor bamboo as a privacy screen.
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Fertilizing Bamboo Indoors And Outdoor
Determining the best outdoor bamboo fertilizer will greatly depend on the condition of your soil. A member of the grass family, these plants prefer higher nitrogen and a slightly acidic soil pH of around 6.0. If your soil is already rich in this element, then an equally balanced feed might be better. The right NPK ratio will not only promote vigorous growth and lush foliage but can improve the soil for all the plants in that bed.
The best fertilizer for indoor bamboo, or “Lucky” Bamboo, will also be rich in nitrogen. But, it should include magnesium and iron, to guide that nitrogen in the right direction. If growing in water, distilled is best, as fluoride or other harmful elements will have been filtered out.
Unfortunately, trace elements like magnesium and iron will have been filtered out, as well. A few drops of liquid bamboo fertilizer will re-introduce these micronutrients and create the right balance. If growing in soil, a diluted amount applied to the soil should achieve the same result.
N-P-K Ratios for Bamboo
The bedrock of every quality fertilizer is its NPK ratio. This powerful, macronutrient trifecta, together with essential secondary nutrients and trace elements, work to keep your bamboo healthy and thriving in your particular garden conditions. The effectiveness of an NPK lies in its ratio and how that ratio relates to your climate and soil conditions.
The term “NPK” stands for nitrogen (N) – for consistent, healthy growth and lush foliage, phosphorus (P) – which strongly aids in the transference of other nutrients to various parts of the plant and potassium (K) – which contributes to every part of the plant’s growth and metabolism.
PRO-TIP: The NPK of every bamboo fertilizer is displayed as a three-numbered ratio on the label, indicating its proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. For example, A 24-8-16 NPK contains 24% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 16% potassium. All plants require these elements in order to thrive, just in different proportions or ratios.
As mentioned, all bamboo types like more nitrogen than anything else. So, you’ll want to choose a feed with an NPK that has a higher first number than the others (X-x-x). The recommended NPK for outdoor bamboo fertilizer, given its vast size, is 20-5-5 or similar. Indoor bamboo fertilizer needs only a 2-2-2 ratio for healthy results.
Granules Vs Fast-Acting Liquids
Whether a slow-release (granules and spikes) or a quick-release (liquid) turns out to be the best bamboo fertilizer in your garden is purely a matter of choice and what makes your gardening experience easier and more pleasurable. Let’s take a look at the difference between them.
Slow-release spikes are one of the easiest bamboo fertilizers to use, especially if you have large expanses of it in your garden. Pre-measured and compact for easy storage, they carry far less risk of run-off and root burn.
Watering them in is not necessary either, as nutrients are released by microorganisms that are naturally present in the soil. Spikes also carry the added benefit of stimulating an increased resistance to disease and pests.
Liquid Concentrates and Sprays
Liquids can save water and time, especially if you choose one versatile enough to use when watering the rest of your garden. Nutrients are carried to the root system through the soil at a speed that only liquid fertilizers can offer.
They also tend to keep the pH levels in your soil balanced. When used appropriately, liquids are considered the best fertilizing method for bamboo grown in water, as it gives you more control over the amount applied and when.
However, caution is recommended. Without the buffer of soil, lucky bamboo roots are very sensitive to fertilizers. Over-feeding could lead to severe root burn.
Granules are another slow-release choice. Heavily concentrated, they provide consistent nourishment for several months at a time. No watering is needed to activate them and individual elements are less likely to leach into nearby surface or groundwater.
Apply by simply sprinkling them around the base of your bamboo or work them into the soil for faster feeding. As with spikes, this type is well-known for its ease of use and no-mess storage.
6 Best Bamboo Fertilizer Reviews
After a fair investment of time, testing dozens of bamboo fertilizer products, I have gathered a plethora of insight into the effectiveness of each product, when best to use them, and how they will benefit your bamboo.
Through sharing my own experiences and knowledge, my judgment of these reviews is based on overall performance and results, ease of use, and value for money. Allowing you to make the best choice for your bamboo and give it the boost it needs in no time at all.
This first impressive performer is from Miracle-Gro. Just one application of these nutrient-rich granules, with a 12-4-8 NPK, will release the right amount of beneficial support to your bamboo for up to 3 months. It also does a great job of improving the soil by feeding those all-important microbes. This nitrogen-rich, all-purpose feed should be a regular staple in your garden shed, as it’s suitable for use as a fruit, flower, and vegetable fertilizer, as well.
How To Use: The dosage for this really does depend on the area you are covering. So, be sure to read the label carefully before casting the granules around your bamboo. Effective nourishment results from even coverage and gently working them into the soil. There’s no watering-in required with this one. Click here for Miracle-Gro All Purpose Shake N’ Feed
Customer Reviews: Even the most discerning gardeners trust the vigorous growth results they get from Miracle-Gro. And the simple shake n’ feed application makes fertilizing a snap with very good value for money. Making this option our best buy with a consumer rating of 4.6 / 5 stars.
- Vigorous growth and plant vitality with just one use
- Improves nutrient-poor soil
- Best used for bamboo grown in nutrient-lacking soil
The tell-tale signs of your bamboo lacking in nitrogen are yellowing leaves, slow or stunted growth, leggy growth, and heat stress. If this sounds familiar, then treat your bamboo with a quick boost of nitrogen, via this 30-0-0 liquid fertilizer from Lawn Star.
This high nitrogen feed works by improving the condition of the soil, making way for greener, thicker shoots and foliage on an altogether healthier bamboo plant.
This is uniquely formulated to trigger an initial blast of chlorophyll-forming nitrogen, with a slow-release follow-up, that continued to nourish the roots of my large, privacy Bamboo through the summer. Resulting in vigorous, densely-growing greenery and increased privacy. View Lawn Star Rapid Green & Growth Liquid Fertilizer here.
How to Use: This can be used with a hose attachment or hand pump sprayer. Per the label instructions, mix it with water at a ratio of 1oz per liter of water for every 200sq meters of bamboo. I used this fertilizer at the start of the growing season, but the application frequency can vary from 3-6 weeks, depending on how deficient your bamboo is.
Customer reviews: It does a great job of transforming sickly-looking, yellow, nitrogen-deficient plants into lush green towers in a matter of weeks.
- Improves the condition of bamboo and soil and can be used for fertilizing grass, too
- The formula offers an effective dual-action solution by offering an initial boost followed by continued, slow-release support
- Not suitable for plants in nitrogen-rich soil
For the organic gardener, this granular option from Down to Earth is an impressive alternative to synthetic liquids. Blood meal is a naturally rich and potent source of nitrogen that rapidly increases soil fertility and offers bamboo roots nutrients that are ready for immediate absorption. No need to wait for soil microbes to convert them.
This one has earned itself a place on the OMRI list for use in organic production and is rated for use not only with bamboo but also for nitrogen-loving leafy greens and fruit tree saplings. The outcome is visibly healthier plants with lush, vibrant green foliage. I’m generally a fan of Down to Earth products anyway, having used the Citrus Mix to fertilize my lemon trees for years now.
One potential downside with this fertilizer, as with many, is its potential to cause root burn. The solution is to follow Down to Earth’s simple instructions for use. This will vary depending on the maturity stage of your bamboo and where you grow it (containers or in the ground).
When used as directed, this product represents exceptional value across the board, compared to some other options. Check the latest details for Down to Earth Blood meal online here.
How to use: For established plants, use once per month throughout the growing season. Mix directly into planting holes for a new bamboo. The product must be mixed with soil as per the instructions.
Customer Reviews: Users were amazed to see how healthy and vibrant their bamboo became shortly after one application. A common complaint with this type of organic product is the smell, but it is organic after all.
- Improves the condition of bamboo, as well as leafy greens and fruiting plants
- Organic formula, listed with OMRI
- Can cause root burn if over-used
Made with pure seaweed extract, this next organic option is from Maxicrop and offers a liquid solution for growth stimulation, strong root formation, and healthy plants.
I particularly like this fertilizer because, in addition to supplying essential nutrients, the higher amount of potassium in its 5-2-5 NPK works to increase heat and drought tolerance in bamboo and other tropical, outdoor plants. Its gentle proportions are also ideal for bamboo already growing in nutrient-rich soil, as the risk of root burn is reduced. See Maxicrop Original Seaweed Extract at Amazon.com. This one is mild enough to use every week, allowing you to confidently incorporate it into your regular garden fertilizing schedule.
How To Use: For outdoor plants: Combine 3 Tbsp with 4 liters (1 gallon) of water and apply every week. For indoor plants: Water with a solution of 3 Tbsp per 4 liters (1 gallon) of water every week.
Customer Reviews: Consumers across the gardening spectrum are impressed with the results they’ve seen with not only their bamboo but other trees and shrubs, as well. Very good value for money for an organic product. 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Organic formula utilizing sugar beet enzymes to improve soil quality
- Beneficial to many garden plants and mild enough to use weekly
- May exhibit a slight, organic odor
This all-natural, mess-free choice from Earth Pods has proven to be a reliable and eco-friendly fertilizer for indoor bamboo. Each child and pet-safe pod is jam-packed with 70+ micronutrients and trace elements, on top of its primary macronutrients. All blanketed in organic matter that has no smell!
Earthpods Bamboo and Bonsai fertilizer is specifically for use with indoor varieties and if you have seen any of my previous house plant posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of these odorless fertilizer pods. In fact, they have an entire range that is suitable for use with many different species of house and garden plants. Click here for EarthPods Bamboo + Bonsai Fertilizer Capsules from Amazon.com
How To Use: All you do is pop a pod into the potting medium near the root zone every 2-3 weeks throughout the growing season and water as normal. Small plants will need 1-2 pods, while large plants may need up to 8 pods.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners report seeing new growth and improved vitality in their bamboo with this product and are very happy with its ease of use. Some felt that this option was a more expensive way of feeding indoor houseplants. Rating this a fantastic 4.6 / 5 stars.
- Strong new growth in a very short time
- Odorless and organic
- Can be expensive for use on large plants
My final selection is another indoor bamboo fertilizer, with the same low-dose N-P-K but in liquid concentrate form. This is perfect for both water and soil-grown lucky bamboo because only a small amount is required for great results. Making this option a very cost-effective way to feed them.
I follow the instructions to the letter when I’m feeding my lucky bamboo, fearing that too much could seriously harm a plant that requires so little. So far, so good! My lucky bamboo continues to have that glow of health and vitality. Click here to Grow More Lucky Bamboo.
How To Use: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of the liquid concentrate with 1 gallon of water. Use the diluted mixture monthly when changing the water of your lucky bamboo. Continue to change the water regularly in between feeding.
Customer Reviews: Reviewers have been raving about the quick results they see after just one use, transforming a tired and yellowing lucky bamboo into a healthy and vibrant plant.
- Great for ailing lucky bamboo
- Great value with so little needed
- Over or excessive use will damage your plant
How To Fertilize Bamboo
As we’ve seen, application instructions for bamboo fertilizers run the gamut from gently inserting tiny pods into the soil of houseplants to using a spreader or hose attachment outside. What all bamboo cultivars have in common, though, is that they respond well to spring-fall fertilizing, with none required in winter.
How Often to Feed Bamboo
You may need to tailor your bamboo feeding schedule based on the variety that you’re growing, your hardiness zone and the current season. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular types.
As with most plants, fertilizing should begin as your bamboo enters its active growing season which is triggered by warming temperatures. For outdoor yellow bamboo, slow-release granules and spikes, applied twice per year, will coincide with their seasonal growing cycles and produce the best results.
Black bamboo actually requires a bit less feeding to achieve the same results. while enjoying a slightly higher soil acidity than its yellow cousin. There may be times, though, when this rare variety needs a boost. If so, only once per growing season is sufficient. Most beneficially, in early spring.
Lucky Bamboo Plants
Our indoor lucky bamboo plants only need a single drop of liquid feed to keep them happy. Roughly, every month or so, and in very diluted form. If grown in soil, apply a diluted dose (per label instructions) every six to eight weeks.
When To Apply Fertilizer
Our beautiful bamboo plants will make the best use of applied fertilizing during their active growing season. During winter dormancy, the plant isn’t prepared to process it and could therefore be damaged.
Yellow bamboo should be fed once in spring and again in summer. Black Bamboo only needs one feeding in late spring to maintain healthy color and foliage. Indoor lucky bamboo will thrive with a very weak solution once a month in spring and summer with no extra feeding being required in winter.
How To Fertilize Bamboo In Water
Most lucky bamboo plants are sold in water and require very little fertilizer when offered filtered water that is naturally rich in nitrogen and frequently changed. But, if your water needs a bit of a nutrient boost, a single drop of diluted liquid feed, once a month during the plant’s active growing season, will be all it needs.
Best Bamboo Fertilizer Conclusion
All the Bamboo fertilizers we’ve reviewed are designed to provide an effective conveyance of nutrients to either small indoor or large, outdoor bamboo varieties. One of the great advantages of growing and fertilizing bamboo plants is that they really require little effort for the joy they provide, in return.
Perhaps you’re looking for a specific NPK to complement your soil type and maintain the vibrancy of your bamboo. Or, you want to give your tired-looking, mature specimens a new lease on life. You’ll definitely find success in my shortlist of outstanding products.
Still not sure and just want a recommendation? I would suggest Miracle-Gro Shake N’ Feed, simply for its ease of application and slow release of nutrients that will continue to condition your soil and increase nitrogen and potassium for six months.
If your soil is lacking in nitrogen, and it’s making your bamboo yellow or suffer from leggy or stunted growth, then you should definitely look to Lawn Star Rapid Green & Growth Liquid Fertilizer. This will not only put the voluminous shade of green back into your outdoor bamboo, but you can also use it on your lawn too.
Or, how about the organic Blood Meal granular fertilizer from Down to Earth? This popular nitrogen option quickly improves long-term soil fertility and is suitable for use on bamboo, as well as most non-flowering shrubs, trees and leafy green vegetables.
Alternatively, if indoor bamboo is your thing, how about EarthPods Premium Bamboo + Bonsai Fertilizer Pods? Its top-notch, organic formula is mess-free, odorless, and full of micronutrients to encourage root growth and healthy plant development.