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 have healthy, tropical perennials by understanding how 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 Fertilize Bamboo
- Best Bamboo Fertilizer Conclusion
Choosing The Best Bamboo Fertilizers
The best way to maintain healthy bamboo is to understand exactly what it needs. Outdoor and indoor bamboo have surprisingly different 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. They 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. It also helps to be able to recognize the signs when too much of something has been applied, so you’ll know when to pull back a little.
Fertilizing Bamboo Indoors And Outdoor
Determining the best feed for your outdoor bamboo 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. If your soil is already rich in this element, then an equally balanced feed might be better. The right fertilizer will not only promote vigorous growth and lush foliage but can improve the soil for all the plants in that bed.
Smaller “Lucky” bamboo also thrives with adequate nitrogen intake. But, can also benefit from a bit of magnesium and iron. If growing in water, distilled is best (no fluoride or other harmful elements) but lacking in these last two. A few drops of fertilizer will create the right balance of nitrogen, magnesium, and iron. If growing in soil, a diluted amount applied to the soil should achieve the same result.
Bamboo Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio
The best fertilizer for bamboo (indoors or out) will have just the right combination of three key macronutrients to remain healthy and thriving in your particular garden conditions. These are 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 fertilizer is displayed as three numbers on the label. These numbers are the N-P-K ratio of that fertilizer, 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 NPK 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 plants, given their vast size, is 20-5-5 or a similar percentage ratio. For smaller indoor types, a 2-2-2 ratio will be all they need.
Granules Vs Liquid Fertilizer
Whether to use a slow-release (granules and spikes) or a quick-release (liquid) 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 to use, especially if you have large swathes of bamboo 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 micro-organisms that naturally live in the soil. This method of application also carries the added benefit of stimulating an increased resistance to disease and pests.
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 where the biggest benefit is the speed at which nutrients reach the roots. Liquid feeds also tend to keep the pH levels in your soil balanced. However, caution is recommended, as over-feeding could lead to root burn.
This could be the best fertilizer for bamboo grown in water as this option gives you more control over the amount applied and when. Which is preferred, given that lucky bamboo is very sensitive to overfeeding.
Granules are another slow-release choice. Heavily concentrated, they provide consistent nourishment for several months at a time. No watering is needed to activate and is 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 extensive and 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, great, slow-release option 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 one is a good all-rounder to have in the garden shed because it is also suitable for use as a fruit, flower, and vegetable fertilizer.
How To Use: The dosage for this really does depend on the area you are covering so have a good read of the label before you start casting the granules around your patch. You need to get even coverage and then simply fork it in gently. 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 is your experience then your bamboo will benefit from a quick boost of nutrients in the form of 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, more luscious shoots, and foliage and altogether a more healthy bamboo. This fertilizer has been specifically blended to ensure an initial blast of nitrogen that is then followed up by a further two-thirds of slow-release formula that continues to provide nutrients to the roots gradually. View Lawn Star Rapid Green & Growth Liquid Fertilizer here.
How to Use: This can be used with a hose-end or pump sprayer container. You’ll need to mix it with water at a ratio of 1oz per liter of water for every 200sq meters of bamboo. I used this fertilizer monthly throughout the growing season but the application period 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 leaves in a matter of weeks.
- Improves condition of bamboo and soil and can be used for fertilising grass too
- Formula offers a 2-proned attack by offering an initial boost followed by slow-release action
- Not suitable if your soil is nitrogen-rich already
Next up on my best bamboo fertilizer list is an organic product from Down to Earth. It contains blood meal which is a naturally rich and potent source of nitrogen and the fertilizer itself has an N-P-K ratio of 12-0-0. It is super effective at conditioning soil by increasing nitrogen levels, which is then transferred to your plants to encourage new shoots and plentiful growth.
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 leafy greens and to start fruiting plants. The outcome is stronger, healthy, denser plants and greener, luscious 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 is its potential to cause root burn. The simple solution is to avoid over-fertilizing by following Down to Earth’s instructions for use. This does vary depending on whether your bamboo is new or established and if you grow it in a container or in the ground. Use the recommended dosage, sprinkle over soil and dig in all around your plants. This product represents good value across the season 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 application. A common complaint with this type of organic product is the smell, but it is organic after all.
- Improves condition of bamboo as well as leafy greens and can also be used for starting fruting plants
- Organic formula, listed with OMRI
- Can cause root burn if over-fertilized.
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 its 5-2-5 NPK helps to reduce the risk of heat stress that can be caused by extreme weather changes and is ideal for bamboo that already grows in nutrient-rich soil because there is little to no risk of root burn. See Maxicrop Original Seaweed Extract at Amazon.com. This one is mild enough to use every week and can be incorporated 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
Next up is an excellent all-natural, mess-free solution for indoor bamboo and is made by the brand Earthpods. They are great slow-release fertilizers that is not only eco-friendly but also pet and child-friendly. Each pod is jam-packed with macro and over 70 micro-nutrients plus a good helping of organic matter and the even better news is that, unlike many organic fertilizers, these ones don’t smell!
Earthpods for Bamboo and Bonsai are 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 will 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 if plants are large
My final selection is another indoor bamboo fertilizer, this time a low-dose N-P-K in a liquid fertilizer form. This is perfect for indoor-grown lucky bamboo and, you need such a small amount each time you fertilize which means that this is 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 concentrate could seriously harm a plant that simply doesn’t require an excessive amount of nutrients. So far, so good, just the recommended dosage of 1/2 a teaspoon per gallon of water is all that is needed to keep my lucky bamboo looking full of vitality and healthy. Click here for 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 tied and yellowing lucky bamboo into a healthy and vibrant plant.
- Great for ailing lucky bamboo
- Great value product
- Over or excessive use will damage your plant
How To Fertilize Bamboo
So as we’ve seen, the best way to feed your exotic evergreens and keep them healthy is to know what their needs are based on your soil condition, climate, and plant type. And most importantly, when to fulfill those needs. Let’s take a look at frequency recommendations for different types of bamboo.
How Often to Feed Bamboo
You’ll need to tailor your bamboo feeding schedule depending on whether you have indoor or outdoor bamboo and the variety that you are growing. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular types.
As with most plants, fertilizing should begin as they enter their active growing season when the weather starts to warm up in spring. For outdoor yellow bamboo, apply your chosen feed twice per year to coincide with your plant’s seasonal growing cycles and produce the best results. Or, per manufacturer recommendations.
Black bamboo actually requires a bit less feeding to achieve the same results while enjoying a little higher soil acidity than its yellow cousin. There may be times though when this rare type needs a boost. If so, only once per growing season is sufficient. Most beneficially, in early spring.
Lucky Bamboo Plants
Our indoor lucky bamboo only needs a single drop of liquid feed to keep it 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 Fertilize Bamboo
Our beautiful bamboo plants will make the best use of applied fertilizing during its 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 changed frequently. But, if your water needs a bit of a nutrients 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
Bamboo fertilizers provide a simple, quick, and in most cases an easy application no matter whether you are growing indoors or outdoor varieties of bamboo. One of the great advantages of fertilizing bamboo is it usually requires minimum effort and is usually a once-per-season job.
Whether you’re looking for a specific feed for your soil type to compliment the growing conditions of your bamboo, or you want to give your tired-looking mature bamboo a new lease of life, you can be sure to find the fertilizer you need from my shortlist of outstanding products.
If you’re really still confused and just want a recommendation I would suggest Miracle-Gro Shake N’ Feed for their 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 invest in 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 dig-in fertilizer option is suitable for use not only on bamboo but is also a popular choice for adding vitality and lushness to leafy green vegetable varieties and new fruiting plants. Plus, it will improve soil’s condition too.
Alternatively, if indoor bamboo is your thing, how about EarthPods Premium Bamboo + Bonsai Fertilizer Pods? This is a great top-notch organic formula, mess-free, odorless, and full of micronutrients to encourage root growth and healthy plant development.