How to Grow Bamboo on a Balcony

bamboo on balcony

Growing bamboo plants for balcony privacy is easier than you might think. Famously the fastest-growing plant in the world, there’s very little you need to take care of bamboo.

But, getting it to do your bidding is where the challenge comes in. Below, we look at planting bamboo for privacy on your balcony and offer some tips for the best results.

Why Grow Bamboo?

So, why would you want bamboo plants on a balcony? For the following reasons:

  • Bamboo grows fast, making it a great choice for quickly decorating your balcony.
  • It works great as a privacy screen because of its dense foliage.
  • Bamboo is very easy to care for, meaning it’s ideal for people who usually struggle to keep plants alive.
  • Keeping it in pots gives you flexibility with placement.
  • Bamboo is a surprisingly pretty plant when grown properly.

Considerations Before Growing Bamboo

Generally, you’ll probably want to grow bamboo as a privacy hedge. It’s perfect for this, although it’s also good as a decorative plant. There are some important things to consider before you get planting, though.

Climate

Most species of bamboo thrive in warm, tropical climates. If you live somewhere cold or very dry, you’ll need to buy a particular species. You can compensate for lack of humidity by watering more regularly.

Time to Grow

If you’re planting bamboo for privacy, you’ll need to allow a few months for it to reach maturity. Some species grow faster than others, but pretty much all of them grow quickly in the right conditions.

Balcony Space

If you have a tiny balcony, you’ll need to opt for a dwarf variety. That said, you’ll have plenty of control over the plant’s growth if you choose the right pot.

Best Bamboo for Privacy

There are 2 main types of bamboo: running and clumping. The best bamboo for privacy is clumping varieties because, as the name suggests, they form dense clumps of canes.

Running varieties are the most invasive and can spread throughout an entire garden if left alone. Obviously, this isn’t much of a concern here, as we’re only thinking about bamboo grown in pots.

Here are some suggestions for the best bamboo privacy hedge varieties.

Yellow Groove Bamboo

Phyllostachys aureosulcata is a clumping variety that grows long yellow canes. It can grow up to 20ft. in height with a spread of 9ft. from a single plant. It tolerates temperatures down to -5 Fahrenheit, making it suitable for colder climates.

Panda Bamboo

Fargesia species are clumping varieties that can tolerate temperatures down to -25 Fahrenheit.

Bissetii Dwarf Bamboo

Phyllostachys bissetii is a dwarf clumping variety (although it can still grow up to 18ft.). Its canes range from green to gold depending on light exposure, and it can tolerate temperatures down to -10.

If you’re less restricted by temperature, you have plenty more options:

  • Shady balconies: chimonobambusa sp.
  • Direct sun: phyllostachys sp.
  • Exposed balcony (wind, rain, etc.): bashania, pseudosasa or sasaella sp.
  • Any temperature or exposure level: indocalamus or pseudosasa sp.

Best Pots for Bamboo Plants for a Balcony

Choosing the right pots for your bamboo privacy hedge is vital. The plants are very strong and can break their way out of a pot if it’s particularly weak.

So, when growing bamboo in pots for privacy, follow these tips:

  • Metal, concrete or thick wood pots are your only real option. Bamboo roots can crack through plastic pots.
  • Railing planters are a definite no because they don’t offer enough space.
  • The pot should have drainage holes and should be heavy enough that the plant won’t topple over in the wind.
  • Pot size ultimately depends on the variety and intended height. A general rule for growing bamboo in pots for privacy is 18-20 inches deep and about the same in diameter.

How to Grow a Bamboo Privacy Hedge on a Balcony

Planting out bamboo is super easy. Like any other plant, do this in either spring or fall so the plant can be ready for its growing season.

  1. Put 2-3 inches of gravel or rocks in the bottom of your container to improve drainage.
  2. Use a peat-free 50/50 or multipurpose potting compost and sprinkle a thin layer in the bottom of the pot.
  3. Remove the bamboo plant from its pot, knock off soil and loosen the root ball. You can be fairly rough, but be careful not to break the roots.
  4. Put the plant into its new container and ensure it’s deep enough that there’ll be a 1-inch layer of new soil over its original surface.
  5. Backfill the pot using your compost and firm down (but not too firm).
  6. Arrange on your balcony as needed to form a suitable bamboo privacy hedge.

Growing bamboo in pots for privacy is easy, but you need to provide enough care. Bamboo plants like moist but well-draining soil. In the height of summer, you might need to water every 2 days if it’s hot.

The easiest way to check is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it’s dry, you should water. You’ll be able to ease off in the winter, but still keep up a good watering routine.

Don’t prune the plants in their first year of growth. In early fall of the second year, prune off weak, short, or thin canes, and repeat once a year after that. If the plant gets too tall, simply trim the tops off.

You’ll need to repot every 2-5 years into a bigger pot. If you don’t want to use bigger pots for your bamboo privacy hedge, divide the plants instead. It’s pretty easy and means you’ll have double the number of plants!

Final Thoughts on Planting Bamboo for Privacy

Using bamboo as a balcony privacy hedge is ideal, providing you have the space. It’s a fast-growing plant that needs plenty of room, and it can get out of control if you don’t care for it.

That said, after a year or two, it’ll provide lovely thick foliage that’s perfect as a privacy hedge.

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