Well as the post title says, one can absolutely grow bamboo in North Florida, and quite honestly it’s probably one of the best locations for it. Why you ask? Merely for the fact that if you have the available room you can grow both a wide variety of tropical clumping bamboo as well as temperate running bamboo (with proper containment of course), whereas other locations in the United States tend to be limited to one or the other due to temperature.
I for one started my bamboo growing adventure here in Jacksonville Florida somewhere around 1998/1999 timeframe. The first bamboo I planted in my yard was a division of Bambusa multiplex Silverstripe taken from a grove of bamboo growing at then NAS Cecil Field. It was during this time I met a few other bamboo enthusiasts which then resulted a few years later in my North Florida bamboo collection growing from one to many varieties.
Growing bamboo for the most part in North Florida is relatively easy. The bamboo is very adaptive to the native sandy loam soil, with no real amendment needed aside from mulch during the first couple of years (after which the bamboo is typically self mulching). Occasional water is necessary during dry periods (our usual Florida rains are.typiclly sufficient) and being a grass the bamboo benefits from a good lawn fertilizer a couple times per year (minus the herbicides, so not a weed and feed type). A tropical clumping bamboo on average grown from a single culm division typically will be near mature height and culm diameter within five years. So depending on what your goal is with planting bamboo you can expect it to be accomplished in a few growing seasons.
Currently in my North Florida bamboo collection I have eight tropical clumping bamboo planted in the ground along with several temperate runners planted in pots as well as my recent creation of a bamboo bonsai! I welcome you to take a virtual tour of my bamboo garden below…
Don’t let your neighbor or unknowledgeable keyboard warriors discourage you from enjoying this wonderful plant! Regardless of what you have heard or they tell you, bamboo is a wonderful plant with over a thousand uses and will make a wonderful addition to you your North Florida landscape. Sure it will need maintenance from time to time (removing old canes and excess leaf mass), but this is no different than other shrubs and trees that you might have planted in your yard.
Now so far I’ve only talked about tropical clumpers, and yes you can grow many runners as well. Due to heat and humidity many of these languish in Central and South Florida, but here in North Florida they tend to do much better. Should you decide on this just know that running bamboos are NOT to be planted in the ground unless you perhaps live on a huge tract of land or unless you use proper bamboo rhizome barrier. Running type bamboo can also be grown in North Florida in a suitable container, just know that you will need to pull it out of the pot for root pruning and dividing every couple of years to keep it healthy.
So should you decide to grow bamboo in North Florida and have any questions don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have in the comments.