Does Bamboo Take 5 Years To Grow?

You may have heard the rumor that bamboo lies dormant then after 5-6 years it starts sprouting like a rocket. I’ve lived with bamboo many times in the past so I wanted to figure out if this rumor was true.

Is It True That Bamboo Doesn’t Grow Very Much For 5-6 Years Then Takes Off Like A Rocket? No, it does not take 5-6 years. The first bamboo you plant will take 2-3 years to develop a root mass that will allow it to send up sprouts that can grow to maximum height. Each year the sprouts will get taller and taller.

By the 3rd year, you should have sprouts that reach their maximum height within 1-2 months of appearing in the spring.

What To Expect When You Buy and Plant Bamboo

When you buy and plant a small bamboo plant that the first plant will not grow very tall. Instead it will develop it’s roots the first year. In the second year 3-4 sprouts will grow out maybe 2-3 times the first ones height but still not to the maximum height.

In the 3rd or 4th year, you’ll get spring sprouts that will grow to maximum height in 1-3 months of appearing. After that new sprouts will reach their maximum height within 1-3 months after they appear each spring.

How Long Does It Take Bamboo To Grow to Full Height?

In an established grove with a strong root mass new shoots will appear every spring and reach full height for their variety within 1-3 months.

How Fast Does Bamboo Grow In A Day

The fastest growing species of bamboo, Oldhamii, can grow 3 feet in a day. Typical growth rates average 0.5 – 1 feet per day when they first emerge in the spring. See a table of common bamboo types and their growth rates below.

Type of BambooRunning or ClumpingUseMaximum Height (feet)Days to Reach Maximum HeightGrowth Rate (Feet Per Day)
Golden BambooRunningPrivacy Fence, Ornamental30600.5
Guadua bambooClumpingConstruction, Scaffolding65800.8
Moso bambooRunningFlooring, Clothing, Edible Shoots45351.3
Oldhamii BambooClumpingPrivacy Fence, Ornamental, Windbreak, Edible Shoots65223.0

Bamboo rhizomes for runner species can grow and spread 3-5 feet horizontally underground per year.

Lifecycle Of A Bamboo Tree

Most bamboo is spread by cutting off a small clump of bamboo from the edge of an existing grove. That clump can be replanted and will take 2-3 years to establish a strong root base.

After that point you can expect new shoots in the spring to reach full size within 60 days. The upright stems of bamboo are called culms. Each individual culm has a lifespan of approximately 10 years.

Your grove will typically grow mainly through rhizome spreading. It will do this by either sending out runners that can grow 3-5 feet horizontally out each year then send up new culms in the spring.

Clumping varieties also send out rhizomes but each one turns up into a new culm each year. Clumping varieties grow slower and don’t spread as aggressively.

Flowering, where bamboo produces new seeds, occurs anywhere from 3 to 120 years after your bamboo was started from seed or planting from a root cutting of an older grove. The length of time depends on the variety.

A bamboo grove can flower for the next 5 years once it begins. After flowering, bamboo produces seed which is spread by the wind. That grove then promptly dies.

What Types Of Bamboo Grow Slowly? 

In general, clumping varieties spread slower than runner varieties.

In terms of vertical growth the slowest growing bamboos will still grow up to a foot a day vertically in the spring.

Golden bamboo which is a popular ornamental and a super aggressive runner grows slower than many other varieties. It’s average growth rate is just 0.5 feet vertically per day. It can send out runners that grow even slower but can still spread horizontally each year 3-5 feet per growing season.

What Types Of Bamboo Grow Quickly?

The fastest growing bamboo which can grow up to 3 feet a day is Oldhamii Bamboo. This bamboo is actually a type of clumping bamboo so it won’t spread aggressively throughout your yard. It will get pretty tall though!

12 Amazing Facts About Bamboo [Video]

Did you know that a bamboo grove produces 35% more oxygen than the same area of deciduous forest? Or that it can mature to harvest in just 3-5 years?

For more fun facts about bamboo watch the quick video below.