showing asian dish using edible bamboo

Growing Edible Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo plants are some of the most graceful yet overlooked types of flora on Earth.

One of the best means of keeping them at bay is to harvest the shoots.

This article will provide information on how to grow edible bamboo shoots.

#1: The Different Types Of Bamboo With Edible Shoots

The tender shoots that have recently appeared are the edible part of a bamboo shoot. Similarly shaped to asparagus, the shoots are available from the spring season. There is a plethora of different bamboo species, all of which can be consumed. However, some of the shoots are more productive and tastier than others. Most bamboo plants produce a small amount of tough, bitter shoots and these need to be cooked for a prolonged period to be easily eaten.

If you have a bamboo plant on your property, all you need to do to harvest and prepare the shoots is follow the instructions below. Remember, all shoots need to be cooked before consumption as this helps neutralize any toxins in the bamboo plant. If you are planting bamboo specifically for consumption, it is recommended that you choose the type with the tastiest, most tender and abundant shoots.

The flavor of the shoot does not always correspond to its size; however, the larger the above-ground canes diameter, the larger the bamboo shoot and bigger the harvest. Different bamboo species are subject to a different level of cold tolerance. When making a choice for planting, it is important that you understand the climatic restrictions of the area.

All bamboo plants derive from the genus Phyllostachys. This species is known to be durable in the cold and producing high-quality bamboo shoots. Two of these plants are known for their exceptionally tasty shoots.

Known as the Moso Bamboo species, this plant has a height of approximately 50 feet and above. The canes of the plant measure approximately eight inches in diameter, and the plant is most common in Asia used as construction equipment and commercial food. The Moso Bamboo is also available in most American nurseries with a hardiness to stand 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Sweetshoot Bamboo is another form of popular Asian bamboo plant.

sweet shoot bamboo trees

It is popular in the Asian shoot industry and has a hardiness to withstand o degrees Fahrenheit. The canes are approximately 40 feet high with three-inch diameter casing.

For a comprehensive view of the bamboo species’ different culinary qualities, it is recommended you review the list from the Guadua Bamboo Company. This examines 110 bamboo species describing 33 as “delicious”. Furthermore, there is mention of many other shoots in the Phyllostachys genus discussing their cold tolerance and cane diameter. For instance, the Acidosasa edulis has a 5-degree cold tolerance and 2.5 inches cane diameter. The Chimonobambusa has a 5-inch can diameter and its hardiness to cold varies. The Gigantochloa levis can withstand 30 degrees cold with a 6-inch diameter, and the Chimonocalamus delicatus has a 1-inch diameter withstanding 10 degrees.

The bamboo plants with the highest cold hardiness can be found in the Fargesia genus, including varieties that can withstand approximately -20 degrees. While this type of bamboo plant is not known for its culinary qualities, the Fargesia robusta and Fargesia spathacea are sometimes consumed.

#2: The Growing Conditions For Edible Bamboo Shoots

Essentially a giant type of grass, bamboo is simple to grow when planted in a well-drained area of rich soil – either in shaded or partly shaded locations. As with all grasses, bamboo plants are most lushly grown when provided with water. Moreover, the lusher the growth, the sweeter, more tender and more abundant the bamboo shoots. It is important to irrigate the bamboo when a top inch of soil becomes dry. You need to take care not to over-water the plant if soil drainage is poor. A waterlogged area is ineffective for bamboo growth.

As long as the plant is placed in fertile soil, there is no need to fertilize the bamboo. More shoots can be grown if the plant is fertilized with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. It may be tempting to fertilize the bamboo plant using animal manure based on its high nitrogen content; however, this is not recommended as the shoots can come into contact with different pathogens in the animal manure when emerging from the ground. Ideally, a store-bought organic fertilizer should be used.

#3: Preventing The Bamboo Plant From Spreading

In the bamboo plant arena, there are either “runners” or “clumpers”. Clumpers are not aggressive types of bamboo and merely grow in compact clumps. The runners are the form that gives bamboo a poor reputation. The runner species includes plants with long underground rhizomes sending up canes in different areas – an act known as colonizing the soil.

Unfortunately, the bamboo plants with the most effective culinary qualities are the runners. The positive news is that there are numerous ways of preventing the unwanted spread of running bamboo. The simplest method is to grow bamboo in pots or using raised planters. If you plan on growing bamboo in the ground, it is important that you install an underground polyethylene barrier – this will help prevent the bamboo from colonizing areas. The barrier should be approximately 4 inches above ground and 18 inches below the ground.

Evidence shows that underground bamboo barriers are difficult to install and costly; therefore, they are best suited to smaller plantings. If you plan on establishing a large bamboo grove, it is recommended that you surround the area with grass or similar vegetation which can be easily mowed. By mowing the vegetation, you will prevent the bamboo canes from growing outside of the designated planting area.

Another method of preventing spreading of bamboo is to harvest the shoots. As each shoot is removed, you prevent another bamboo cane from growing.

#4: Harvesting And Preparation Of Edible Bamboo Shoots

To ensure the harvest is successful, it is important that you follow these instructions:

Keeping An Eye On The Harvest

The first step to a successful bamboo harvest is to watch the plants during the harvesting season. All shoots need to be harvested immediately after emerging from the ground. Species with small diameter measurements must be harvested before the shoot is 6 inches in length. The bamboo species with larger diameters can grow to 12 inches. Consequentially, the younger and shorter the shoot, the better it will taste. Evidence shows that bamboo can grow at a rate of 6 to 12 inches per day. This means the ideal harvest window for all shoots is less than 24 hours.

Harvesting The Shoots By Slicing Into The Soil

You can harvest bamboo shoots by slicing into the soil using a sharp spade. This act can help detach shoots from the bamboo root system. Bamboo shoots with large cane diameters and stiff, brittle shoots are easier to break off through manual twisting and pulling. It is recommended that you harvest only 50% of the shoots per annum to ensure all the canes are healthy.

Peeling The Outer Sheath

Each shoot presents with dark outer sheaths protecting the white interior. To reach this soft interior, it is recommended that you peel the dark sheath away.

bamboo gardening

Selecting Bamboo Garden Variations

There are a number of different factors that are involved in choosing bamboo plants that can best suit your location and needs.


Doing a bit of planning in advance can help to ensure that you plant the best bamboo for your individual needs.


There is an endless number of different uses for bamboo, in all of the various forms that it comes in: screens, hedges, open groves, stand-alone, striking specimen plants, accents plants inside pots on a patio or deck, ground covers, low variegated borders, an interesting entryway, or a tunnel.

However, the most popular way that bamboo is used by far is for evergreen hedges and fast-growing privacy screens. Since bamboo is among the fastest-growing plants in the world, bamboo hedges and screens can be made more inexpensively and quickly than other trees or plants. Nearly any species may be used to create effective screening since it will grow to whatever height you want in the space you are able to allow for it, and given the fact that it is matched properly to your growing conditions and climate.

Desired Appearance

Selection all comes down to purpose and personal taste. There is an incredible variety of different bamboos to choose from. There are canes that have small or large diameters, stripes, colores, canes that are hidden by foliage, exposed canes. Keep in mind that leaves can be variegated and striped, white or yellow with green, thin and long, wide and large, or delicate and very small. Their growth habit might be airy or dense, arching at the top, weeping, wide and bushy, or narrow and vertical.

Remember that the young plants you buy may not show variegation and colors or any other special traits immediately. Those features start becoming more prominent after one or two years. Also, some features might only appear in certain conditions. For example, purple and red culms of some species only come out when direct sunlight hits the actual canes on a consistent basis.


Cold-hardiness This is the lowest temperature that the root system of each of the species is able to tolerate for 2-3 nights at once. Generally, the cold-hardiness rating represents the root death threshold. Temperatures that are near this rating might kill the tops or entire canes, which will cause them to turn a beige colour. Dead canes won’t produce new leaves. However, if the roots are able to survive, new shoots (or young culms) will be produced by the bamboo when shooting season starts.

The best thing to do is choose bamboos that can tolerate temperatures that are well under the lowest temperatures that the area has experienced over the past 10 years in order to ensure the long-term health of the plants. Temperatures that are somewhat less cold might only cause loss of leaves and leaf burn. If the canes do not get damaged, then new leaves will start budding out again after the weather starts to warm up. Placing a really deep mulch on top of the bamboo during the fall can considerably expand its cold-hardiness.

There are some bamboos that suffer from heat in the summer instead of the cold and are not able to tolerate daytime temperature that exceeds 100 degrees F and hotter on a regular basis or hot summer nights (hotter than 70 degrees F).

For example, some Chusqueas and most Fargesias don’t do very well in those conditions.

chusquea culeou dense ground cover


They are mainly mountain bamboos, which have evolved for the cold weather instead of hot temperatures.


Ideal shade tolerance and sun exposure parameters are a significant factor that you should consider when selecting bamboo. Compare the number of hours worth of direct sunlight that your bamboo plants will get, and the part of the day they are going to be in the sun. The coolest sunlight is in the morning, while afternoon sun might be hotter, and in dry, hot climates is particularly harsh.

Climbing Rhizome or Running Type

Another factor is the type of root (rhizome) of each of the bamboos. Take into consideration all of the pros and cons of runners and clumpers for your situation. For example, clumpers have a tendency to spread wide at a slower rate but tend to grow tall more quickly and do not need a root barrier to contain them. On the other hand, runners have a tendency to quickly spread wide and form screens and are also less expensive. However, they usually need containment like planter boxes or a root barrier.

Diameter and Height

The maximum diameter and height that is reached by each of the species of bamboo in their original climate should be notes as well. They are provided as “known reference points,” but the diameter and height are affected by all of the different aspects of your climate and growing situation: size of the growing area, how long the growing season is, the amount of water that is supplied, aridity/humidity, shade/sun exposure, as well as the high and low temperatures, etc.

There is a correlation between diameter and height. With a 15 foot tall plant, you won’t have a 3-4 inch diameter culm. Those diameters are achieved by species that grow 30-50 in height. Generally speaking, the culms are thinner the short the bamboo is.

bamboo forest

Interesting Bamboo Facts

Bamboo is a flowering plant, which is a member of the family Poaceae (grasses).

Bamboo species number close to 1500 that are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, North and South America, Australia, as well as Asia. Bamboo typically grows under different climate conditions and on different attitudes, but the tropical climate is what it prefers most.

Bamboo is one of the most exploited plants on Earth primarily because it does not require too much of an effort to cultivate it. Besides the low maintenance cost, bamboo has numerous applications. It can be used in the construction industry, medicine, to produce woody projects of different kinds, or even as an ingredient in many delicious meals.

bamboo forest canopy

Interesting Facts About Bamboo

  • – The size of bamboo depends on the species. Largest bamboo species can reach a height of up to 1300 feet.
  • – Bamboo grows either as a tall, woody plant or a shorter, herbaceous plant.
  • – Individual bamboo stems are referred to as culms that arise from underground rhizomes and subsequently emerge from the ground while fully developed.
  • – Bamboo flowers are hardly ever seen. Some bamboo species develop flowers after 65 or even 120 years. One interesting fact about the flowering of bamboo is that all the plants of a particular bamboo species develop flowers at the same time irrespective of their location in the world.
  • – Besides developing from rhizomes, bamboo can also develop from seeds that are arranged in clusters at the end of branches.
  • – The quickest growing plant on Earth is bamboo. It can actually grow 3 feet in height within 24 hours under the right climate conditions. It reaches maturity after only 3 to 5 years unlike other woody plants.
  • – Bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide and releases 30 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere compared to other plants. Due to these features, bamboo contributes significantly to the reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thus cleaning the air.
  • – Bamboo doesn’t actually require fertilizers for optimal growth. Discarded bamboo leaves provide all the necessary nutrients once they start decomposing.
  • – Bamboo has a strong and wide root system that holds the soil stable thus preventing erosion of the ground.
  • – Bamboo is regularly used in Asian cuisine. It can be consumed in the form of a soup or served as a salad.
  • – Young bamboo shoots contain taxiphyllin, which is a toxin. Due to this reason, bamboo should be cooked before consumption because high temperatures destroy the toxin.
  • – Various animals on Earth use bamboo in their diet. The diet of a panda is based exclusively on bamboo while the mountain gorillas and Madagascan lemurs consume bamboo to enrich their regular diet.
  • – Bamboo is used in folk medicine for treating infections as well as accelerating wound healing.
  • – Bamboo has stronger structure than still and is regularly used in the building industry. Besides that, bamboo is used to manufacture furniture, floors, house walls, helmets, bicycle frames, and even skateboards.
  • – In the wild bamboo can survive over 120 years.

Interested in growing your own bamboo plants? Read more …

How to Grow Black Bamboo from Seed

Black Bamboo, is one of the most popular variety people like to grow …

The Steps For Growing Black Bamboo From Seeds

The airy, green foliage and blackish-brown canes in black bamboo is something that fascinates most gardeners. When planted in a group, it gives big yards and gardens a dramatic element with its long canes and lush growth. Black bamboo grows from seed if sown when fresh and kept under moist and warm greenhouse conditions. However, it can take up to six months for the seeds to germinate and so, if you don’t notice immediate sprouting, do not fret. In this brief post, we are going to show you how to grow black bamboo from seed in the right manner.

black bamboo stalk

1. Pour seed starting compost into a huge bowl or bucket. Stir the compost by hand while drizzling small amounts of water. Keep doing this until the compost feels generously moist throughout.

2. Fill 3” square pots with the seed-starting compost and press it in order to get rid of any trapped air.

3. Next, put two black bamboo seeds on the surface of the compost and cover them with around 1/16 inch thick layer of the compost.

4. Spritz each and every pot with a spray bottle in order to settle the compost around the black bamboo seeds. You should do this until the top quarter-inch feels saturated.

5. Next, put a propagation mat near a huge window with bright and filtered light. Put the square pots on the propagation mat and ensure the temperature is set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Moisten the compost with a water-filled spray bottle every time it feels dry on the surface and do this until the top quarter-inch feels saturated. You should never allow the seed starting compost to dry up.

7. After two weeks, you should look for the sprouting of the black bamboo, but be patient as the seeds may take up to six months to emerge. bamboo sprouts example

8. If both seeds germinate, remove one of them from each pot. You should keep the one that seems to be more vigorous and healthier of the two.

9. Move the seedlings to an environment with greenhouse conditions and bright light as well as high humidity and temperatures that are above 68 degrees.

10. Once the seedlings reach a height of 6 inches, you should transplant them in a partially shaded bed with well-drained, loamy soil.