Grow Bamboo in Minnesota: Thrive in Cold Climates with Ease

Welcome to our guide on growing bamboo in Minnesota. Bamboo is a versatile and hardy plant that has gained popularity for its many uses, from decorative landscaping to construction materials. While some may think that growing bamboo is only possible in warm, tropical climates, it can actually thrive in colder regions like Minnesota with the right techniques.

In this article, we will share expert advice on the best varieties of bamboo for Minnesota, where to plant it, how to care for it, and how to harvest it. We’ll even cover tips on managing cold winters and controlling its growth in your garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to planting, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to successfully grow bamboo in Minnesota. Let’s get started!

Best Bamboo Varieties for Minnesota

If you’re looking to grow bamboo in Minnesota, it’s important to choose a variety that can handle the harsh winter conditions. Luckily, there are several hardy types of bamboo that can thrive in colder climates. Here are some of the best bamboo varieties for Minnesota:

Variety Cold Hardiness Growth Habit Care Requirements
Phyllostachys Nigra Zone 5 (-20°F) Upright, Clumping Regular Watering, Fertilizing
Fargesia Robusta Zone 5 (-20°F) Upright, Clumping Shade Tolerant, Regular Watering
Pseudosasa Japonica Zone 5 (-20°F) Upright, Running Well-Drained Soil, Regular Watering

Phyllostachys Nigra, also known as black bamboo, is a popular choice for its striking dark stems. Fargesia Robusta, or hardy bamboo, is a clumping variety that does well in partial shade. Pseudosasa Japonica, or arrow bamboo, is a running variety that spreads quickly and requires regular maintenance to contain its growth.

No matter which variety you choose, make sure to do your research to ensure it is suitable for your specific growing conditions.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Bamboo

When selecting a location for your bamboo plants in Minnesota, consider factors such as sunlight, soil conditions, and protection from harsh winds.

Bamboo thrives in full sun, so try to choose a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. You should also ensure that the soil is well-draining, as bamboo does not like standing water. If your soil is heavy clay, consider amending it with organic matter or sand to improve drainage.

It’s also important to protect your bamboo from harsh winter winds, which can damage or kill the plants. Planting bamboo near a windbreak, such as a fence or hedge, can provide the necessary shelter. Alternatively, you can create a microclimate by planting bamboo in a sheltered spot, such as on the south or west side of a building.

Preparing the Soil for Bamboo Planting

Soil preparation is crucial for growing healthy bamboo in Minnesota. Before planting, it is important to test and amend your soil to ensure that it provides a suitable environment for bamboo roots to grow and thrive. Here is a step-by-step guide on preparing your soil:

  1. Test your soil: Use a soil testing kit to determine the pH level and nutrient content of your soil. Bamboo prefers a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
  2. Amend your soil: If your soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH level. If your soil is too alkaline, add sulfur to lower the pH level. Also, add organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve soil structure and fertility.
  3. Improve drainage: Bamboo roots require well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging and root rot. If your soil is heavy and clayey, add sand or perlite to improve drainage.
  4. Clear the area: Remove any rocks, weeds, or debris from the planting area. Bamboo rhizomes can grow around obstacles, but removing them makes it easier to monitor and control the spread of bamboo.

By following these steps, you can prepare your soil for successful bamboo cultivation and ensure that your plants have a strong foundation for growth.

Planting Bamboo in Minnesota

Once you’ve chosen the right bamboo variety and location, it’s time to start planting. Follow these step-by-step instructions for best results:

  1. Prepare the soil: Before planting, loosen the soil and remove any weeds or rocks. Add compost or other organic material to improve the soil’s fertility and drainage.
  2. Dig a hole: Dig a hole that’s about twice as wide and deep as the bamboo’s root ball. Fill the bottom of the hole with a layer of compost or well-rotted manure.
  3. Plant the bamboo: Place the bamboo in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with soil, gently tamping it down as you go.
  4. Water the bamboo: Water the newly planted bamboo thoroughly to settle the soil and help the roots establish. Water deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather.
  5. Mulch around the bamboo: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the bamboo to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Use organic mulch, such as bark chips or straw, and avoid piling it up against the bamboo’s stem.

When planting multiple bamboo plants, be sure to space them according to their mature size. Clumping bamboo varieties can be spaced 3 to 5 feet apart, while running bamboo varieties should be spaced at least 10 feet apart to prevent them from spreading too quickly.

Caring for Minnesota Bamboo Plants

While bamboo is a hardy plant, it still requires proper care to thrive in the Minnesota climate. Follow these tips for maintaining healthy bamboo plants:

  • Water regularly: Bamboo needs consistent moisture, especially during the growing season. Make sure to water deeply and thoroughly, but avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot.
  • Fertilize annually: Apply a balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring to help promote growth and maintain overall health.
  • Prune as needed: Trim back any dead or damaged canes, as well as any overgrown or invasive shoots. This will help keep the plant healthy and looking tidy.
  • Control pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for common bamboo pests such as spider mites and aphids, as well as diseases like bamboo mosaic virus. Use appropriate treatments to control these issues as needed.

By following these simple care practices, you can enjoy a thriving bamboo garden in Minnesota!

Managing Cold Winters with Bamboo

While bamboo is a hardy plant, it still requires protection during the bitter cold winters in Minnesota. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to keep your bamboo healthy and thriving.


One of the simplest ways to protect your bamboo from the cold is to wrap it with burlap or frost cloth. Wrapping helps to insulate the plant and prevent damage from extreme temperatures. Wrap the bamboo loosely to allow room for growth, and be sure to remove the wrapping in the spring to prevent mold or mildew growth.


Another method for protecting your bamboo is to add an insulating layer around the base of the plant. You can use materials such as straw, leaves, or pine needles to create a protective layer that will help keep the roots warm. Be sure to remove the insulation in the spring to prevent the growth of fungal diseases.


Believe it or not, keeping your bamboo properly hydrated can also help protect it during the winter months. Be sure to water your bamboo thoroughly before the first frost to help it survive the cold. However, avoid watering your bamboo during freezing temperatures, as this can cause the water to freeze and damage the plant.


Choosing the right location for your bamboo can also help it survive the winter. Avoid planting bamboo in areas that are exposed to harsh winds, as this can cause the foliage to dry out and die. Instead, choose a location that is sheltered and protected from the elements.


Finally, regular pruning can help your bamboo stay healthy and strong. Pruning removes any damaged or diseased foliage, helping to prevent the spread of fungal diseases. It also allows more sunlight to reach the plant, which can help it better withstand the cold temperatures.

Controlling Bamboo Spread in Minnesota

While bamboo can be a beautiful addition to any garden, its fast and vigorous growth can sometimes lead to problems with spread. In order to prevent bamboo from taking over your Minnesota landscape, it’s important to take steps to control and contain its growth.

One effective method for controlling bamboo spread is through the use of root barriers. These can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic and metal, and are installed around the bamboo planting area to prevent the rhizomes from spreading beyond a specific point. Keep in mind that root barriers will need to be buried at least 18 inches deep to be effective at containing bamboo rhizomes.

Regular maintenance is also key to preventing bamboo from spreading out of control. This includes pruning and thinning out older canes, which can help to limit the growth of new rhizomes. It’s also important to keep the area around the bamboo well-mulched, as this can help to suppress the growth of new shoots.

Remember, while bamboo can be a beautiful and useful addition to your Minnesota garden, it’s important to take steps to ensure that its growth is kept under control. With a little effort and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of bamboo without having to worry about it taking over your yard.

Harvesting Bamboo in Minnesota

Harvesting bamboo can be a fun and rewarding experience for Minnesota gardeners. When to harvest depends largely on the intended use of the bamboo. For construction and landscaping projects, bamboo should be harvested when it’s at its peak maturity, which usually happens after three to five years of growth.

For crafts and other decorative purposes, bamboo can be harvested at any age. However, it’s important to note that younger bamboo will be more flexible and easier to work with, while older bamboo will be harder and more durable.

When harvesting bamboo, it’s important to use sharp and clean tools to avoid damaging the plant. Cut the bamboo at an angle to prevent water from pooling on the cut end and causing rot. It’s also important to remove any leaves or branches from the harvested bamboo.

Bamboo can be used for a variety of purposes such as creating fences, trellises, or even furniture. It’s a versatile and sustainable material that can be a great addition to any Minnesota garden.

Common Problems and Troubleshooting

Despite bamboo being a hardy plant, some problems may arise during cultivation. Here are some common issues and solutions to address them.

Problem: Yellowing leaves

If your bamboo plant’s leaves are turning yellow, it may be due to a lack of nutrients. Try fertilizing the soil with nitrogen-rich fertilizer and ensure the plant has adequate water.

Problem: Brown tips on leaves

Brown tips on leaves may be caused by over-fertilization, too much direct sunlight, or lack of humidity. Try reducing the amount of fertilizer, moving the plant to a shadier location, or increasing humidity levels.

Problem: Leaf spot disease

Leaf spot disease can be identified by small brown or black spots appearing on leaves. To treat this, remove infected leaves, improve air circulation around the plant, and avoid overhead watering.

Problem: Pests

Bamboo can be prone to pests such as spider mites, bamboo mites, and aphids. To control pests, use insecticidal soap or neem oil and ensure the plant is not stressed.

Problem: Running bamboo spreading uncontrollably

Running varieties of bamboo can be invasive and spread quickly, becoming a problem for neighboring plants and structures. To control its spread, use a physical barrier or regular maintenance such as pruning and root pruning.

By keeping an eye out for these common issues and taking proactive measures, you can ensure your bamboo plants thrive in the Minnesota climate.


Growing bamboo in Minnesota may seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation and care, it can thrive even in cold climates. By selecting the best bamboo varieties for the Minnesota climate, choosing the right location, and properly preparing the soil, you can set yourself up for success. Regular care practices such as watering, fertilizing, and pruning can keep your bamboo plants healthy and vibrant.

While managing cold winters and controlling bamboo spread can pose challenges, there are strategies to overcome these obstacles and maintain a thriving bamboo garden. With patience and persistence, you can reap the rewards of harvesting bamboo for crafts, construction, and landscaping.

Ready to Start Your Own Bamboo Garden in Minnesota?

Don’t be intimidated! With the information and tips provided in this article, you have everything you need to get started. Follow the step-by-step guide to planting and care, and be sure to troubleshoot any issues that arise along the way. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful and sustainable bamboo garden to enjoy for years to come.


Q: Can bamboo be grown in cold climates like Minnesota?

A: Yes, bamboo can thrive in cold climates, including Minnesota. With the right variety selection and proper care, bamboo can successfully grow in Minnesota’s climate.

Q: What are the best bamboo varieties for Minnesota?

A: Some of the best bamboo varieties for Minnesota include Phyllostachys aureosulcata (Yellow Groove Bamboo), Fargesia rufa (Green Panda Bamboo), and Phyllostachys bissetii (Bisset’s Bamboo). These varieties are known for their cold hardiness and adaptability to colder regions.

Q: How do I choose the right location for growing bamboo in Minnesota?

A: When selecting a location for your bamboo, choose an area that receives ample sunlight, has well-drained soil, and is protected from harsh winds. Avoid planting bamboo near delicate plants or structures.

Q: What steps should I take to prepare the soil for bamboo planting in Minnesota?

A: To prepare the soil, start by conducting a soil test to determine its pH and nutrient levels. Amend the soil as necessary by adding organic matter and adjusting the pH. Ensure good drainage by incorporating sand or gravel if needed.

Q: How do I plant bamboo in Minnesota?

A: When planting bamboo in Minnesota, ensure proper spacing between plants, usually around 5-10 feet apart. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball and backfill with soil, firming gently. Water thoroughly after planting and mulch around the base to retain moisture.

Q: What are the essential care practices for Minnesota bamboo plants?

A: Caring for bamboo in Minnesota involves regular watering to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry periods. Fertilize bamboo plants with a balanced organic fertilizer in spring and summer. Prune any dead or damaged canes and monitor for pests or diseases.

Q: How can I protect bamboo from cold winters in Minnesota?

A: To protect bamboo from cold winters, wrap the canes with burlap or insulating material, particularly for younger or more cold-sensitive varieties. Mulch around the base to provide additional insulation. Avoid heavy pruning in fall to help the bamboo retain its natural protection.

Q: How can I control bamboo spread in my Minnesota garden?

A: To control bamboo spread, consider installing a root barrier around the planting area, extending at least 20-24 inches deep into the ground. Regular maintenance, such as pruning and removing new shoots, can also help contain bamboo growth.

Q: When and how do I harvest bamboo in Minnesota?

A: Bamboo can be harvested when the culms reach maturity, usually after 3-5 years. Cut the culms close to the ground using sharp pruning tools. Harvested bamboo can be used for various purposes, such as crafts, construction, and landscaping.

Q: What are some common problems with growing bamboo in Minnesota, and how can I troubleshoot them?

A: Common problems with bamboo in Minnesota may include pests, such as aphids or spider mites, diseases like bamboo blight, or environmental stressors like excessive heat or cold. Proper identification and prompt action, such as using organic pest control methods or providing additional care, can help address these issues.