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How fast does bamboo grow? Running vs. Clumping

The evergreen hardy plants are becoming popular. However, many gardeners are concerned about the fast-growing nature of bamboo and how to stop them from spreading quickly. So, How fast does bamboo grow?

You probably end up here because you are asking the same question, so let’s get the answers to this question and other bamboo questions.

Two types of bamboo plants in the UK

There are two common types of bamboo plants growing in the UK – clump-forming bamboo and running bamboo. Each has more than 10 – 20 varieties that do well in British weather.

To know the bamboo that is suitable for you, you must know the different varieties of bamboo and their different features, because one variety does not fit all.

Some bamboos are better suited to pots and containers, whereas the others are best for outdoors.

Popular bamboo questions UK gardeners ask

As we research the questions for this article, we observed that these 10 questions were the most popular ones. In fact, we believe that the feedback here will provide the answers to some of your questions about bamboo.

Answers to the 10 frequently asked questions about bamboos [Source: Google Trends, September 2021]

1. Q. How fast does bamboo grow?

  • A. Clump-forming bamboos tend to grow 30-60 cm (1 – 2 feet) taller each year.
  • A. Running bamboos grow 90cm to 2m (3 – 6 feet) taller each year. They mature in height in just one growth year.

Do you know: A certain bamboo variety is known to be the fastest-growing plant, according to the Guinness World Records, growing at up to 91 centimetres (35 inches) per day.

2. Q. How tall does bamboo grow?running bamboo plants UK

  • A. Clump-forming Bamboo culms (stems) usually grow to 5m (15 feet) tall. These bamboo will grow and spread about the same distance.
  • A. New shoots of Running Bamboo plants grow 90cm to2 m taller each year until it reaches the maximum height (~2m).

Do you know: A new bamboo shoot can reach its full height in less than 3 months and survive for 5 to 10 years?

3. Q. How far do bamboo roots (rhizomes) spread?

  • A. Clump-forming bamboos: The rhizomes of clumping bamboos establish in 1 – 2 years. The new shoots are an indication of a well-established clump root system. The rhizomes can spread to 5 m around the parent plant.
  • A. Running bamboos: This is an invasive variety. Its rhizomes spread pretty quickly, they can grow more than a metre in a year.

4. Q. Which bamboo is best for screening?

  • A. The best bamboo for screening must be tall, grows lots of secondary branches, has dense evergreen foliage. It should, or at least, grow in both sun, part-shade and shade. Some varieties of Fargesia Murielae, also called the Umbrella Bamboos, are perfect for screening or for hedging.

Variety and Common Name 


Fargesia murielae Simba

Umbrella Bamboo Simba 

Small gardens, pots and containers

Fargesia murielae Winter Joy

Umbrella Bamboo Winter Joy 

Gardens, pots and containers

Phyllostachys nigra

Black Bamboo 

Garden, driveway and privacy screen

Phyllostachys Aureocaulis

Spectabilis Bamboo

Garden, driveway and privacy screen

Bambusa Textilis Gracilis


Privacy screen, hedge, garden feature, pots and containers

Fargesia Murielae

Green bamboo Jumbo

Privacy screen, hedge, garden feature, pots and containers

Giant Timber Bamboo Phyllostachys Bambusoides

Ideal for a walkthrough, large garden, or woodland forest

5. Q. What kind of bamboo is best for the garden?

  • A. Clumping bamboo varieties are great garden plants, they spread more slowly and gradually. In the garden, they can be used as ornamental or patio pot plants. Fargesia Simba and Pleioblastus Distichus are the best for garden centrepieces.

6. Q. Is bamboo legal in the UK?

  • A. There are currently no restrictions on planting bamboo in the UK. The UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Updates 11 December 2014, now the Guidance to Invasive Non-native Plants) does not classify bamboo as an invasive species.

7. Q. Can bamboo grow in pots and containers?

A. You can grow both Running and Clumping bamboo plants in pots and containers. Their growth and duration are limited to the size of the pots and will require care or repotting after 3 – 5 years.

In-depth Answer: Here is an article we wrote about the Best Bamboos for Pots.

8. Q. Does bamboo grow in shade?

  • A. Although most varieties of running and clumping bamboos like sunlight, they can also grow in shades. Some varieties of clump-forming bamboo plants are best for partial and full shaded areas. When planting a variety of clump-forming plants to grow in the share, ensure that the soil is well-drained.

9. Q. How much water does bamboo need?

  • A. Old bamboo plants have natural water storage capacity through their hollow canes/culms and rhizomes (roots). Their deep roots and long canes will be able to store water and become drought resistant.
  • A. New bamboo will need water to grow until the roots and culms are well established. Water generously, but not too much water to avoid waterlogging. Lack of water or too much water can kill them.

10. When is the right time for pruning bamboo plants?

  • A. Summer checks: In the Summer, the plants would have grown to full height, and the rhizomes have reached far and wide or packed in clumps. Prune the culms and rhizomes, but not an ideal time to grow or re-pot the bamboos they may not survive the cold in Winter.
  • A. Spring checks: In the early Spring, the new shoots are an indication of how far the plants have grown and how healthy they are. This gives you an ideal opportunity to prune, re-pot or dig out the intruding rhizomes and canes.

How fast does bamboo grow in the UK?

Bamboos are amazing plants, they grow well all year round. Their evergreen foliage and tall hardy stems make them ideal plants for privacy screens and ornamental garden centrepieces.

If you are going to grow a bamboo plant, either in pots or in the garden, it is important to know that they grow very quickly. The new shoots and rhizomes (roots) can take over the space very quickly if left unchecked.

A. In the UK, a bamboo shoot (or culm) can grow up to 10cm on Spring day, and reach its full height in just 3 months.   

Late Spring and early Summer are the best times for checking your bamboo plants. This is also a good time to grow bamboo because the new shoots and rhizomes tips will have been sprouting.

During the rest of the year, the matured bamboo plants, especially the culms and rhizomes, in your garden will remain green and provide covers even through the Winter months. They are pretty tolerant of cold and dry soils.

When is the right time grow bamboo in the UK?

Although the ideal time to grow Bamboo outdoors and in pots is Spring, you can grow bamboo almost any time of the year with the right care and attention. However, as mentioned, the ideal time to grow your new bamboo cutting is early in Spring as the plants sprout during this time.

A. Growing your new bamboo cuttings sufficiently early in Spring improves the chance of some growth in the roots and shoots before its first Winter. As the roots establish themselves, (and they do that very quickly over Summer), your bamboo cutting will be ready for planting the following Spring.

We hope this article answers your questions about how to grow our favourite bamboo plant. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Follow us on Twitter and YouTube for the latest updates.

3 thoughts on “How fast does bamboo grow? Running vs. Clumping”

  1. Thanks for finally writing about How fast does bamboo grow: bamboo Q n A; GROW and CARE GUIDE. Very helpful.
    Looking forward to visiting BAMBOO GARDEN.

  2. I know bamboos are fast-growing but didn’t know the two types of bamboo plants, thanks for this info.

    Also, I think it will be hard to identify them because there are 1000s of bamboo and some of them are similar.

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