Is It Legal to Grow Bamboo in The US? (Solved & Explained!)

Bamboo is a wonderful plant that is very easy to grow and provides numerous environmental benefits. It has hundreds of species that come in various sizes, shapes, and colors.

Growing bamboo is legal in the United States but a few communities have banned or restricted growing certain invasive species. Florida has perfect climatic conditions for growing several bamboo species and has some of the largest bamboo farms in the US.

Read on to find out more about growing bamboo, including some tips, guidelines, and answers to questions you might have about it. Happy reading!

Is it legal to grow bamboo in the US?

Something you might’ve often wondered about is whether growing bamboo in the US is legal. While you might hear from many individuals, internet articles, and other sources that bamboo poses certain dangers and that growing it should be made illegal, currently, growing bamboo in the US is perfectly legal and the FDA has no restrictions against it.

In fact, you’ll find large bamboo farms and groves in many states of the country. But there’s a reason some individuals and communities want bamboo to be made illegal. While the plant is usually harmless (clumping bamboo), some varieties of it (running bamboo) tend to grow quickly and aggressively. If they’re not monitored and maintained properly, their growth can easily get out of hand and the plant can spread rapidly.

Why do some people want growing bamboo to be made illegal?

Besides having rapid growth and spread rates, some bamboo species also have very tall, hard, and thick culms, growing up to 70 feet tall and 5 inches thick (diameter).

So, all these characteristics can make certain species of bamboo strong and unstoppable. They can easily spread into adjacent yards, and open spaces, and even block waterways. In addition, the roots of some bamboo species can also interfere with underground utility lines and destroy the roots of other plants and trees. This is why those who want bamboo to be made illegal categorize it as an invasive plant species.

Bamboo farming in various US states

Many species of bamboo are grown in lots of states across the US. Bamboo can be grown in most places in the country, but Southern states such as Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama are particularly well-suited for growing the plant.

Florida has arguably the best climatic conditions for growing bamboo in the whole country. Many species of bamboo thrive in the state and you’ll find some of the biggest bamboo farms in the country there.

Disputes over unchecked bamboo growth often occur between property owners in various towns and cities in the Eastern United States. Communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have introduced laws to curb the growth of the plant. New York has banned the growing of two invasive species of bamboo.

Benefits of growing bamboo plants

While some species of bamboo are invasive and can cause damage to other plant species and infrastructure, growing the plant also has numerous benefits associated with it. Here, we list down some of the ways in which bamboo plants are beneficial to the environment.

  • They absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen

  • Bamboo leaves that fall to the ground enrich the soil by providing essential nutrients needed for other plants to thrive

  • Bamboo culms store plenty of water when it rains and then release it back into the soil during dry spells

  • Bamboo plants absorb toxic pollutants from the air and the culms also act as windbreakers

What are some bamboo species you can grow in your yard?

If you want to grow bamboo in your yard but are not sure which species would be best (and safe) to grow, don’t worry! Here, we list down five species of bamboo that are easy and safe to grow at home.

All of these species are non-invasive, so you needn’t worry about that! Moreover, we’ve also mentioned the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones for each species. This determines which plants can be grown at a particular geographic location. We recommend finding out the USDA Hardiness Zones for your city or state. Here’s USDA’s map.

  1. Fargesia Murielae (Umbrella bamboo). It is a narrow species that can grow up to 14 feet tall. USDA Zones: 5 to 9.
  2. Borinda angustissima. It has thin culms and delicate leaves. It has an average height of 12 feet. USDA Zones: 8 to 9.
  3. Bambusa multiplex. This species has striped leaves and an average height of 20 feet. USDA Zones: 9 to 10.
  4. Fargesia sp. ‘Jiuzhaigou’ I (Red Dragon). This beautiful species, originating in northern China, has very small leaves. It has an average height of 10 feet. USDA Zones 5 to 9.
  5. Thamnocalamus tessellatus. Originating from South Africa, this species has thick culms and is perfect for sunny areas. It has an average height of 14 feet. USDA Zones: 7 to 9.

Important tips and guidelines for growing bamboo

In this section, we mention some general tips and guidelines to help you grow bamboo in your area.

  • Find out which bamboo species you can grow based on your area’s USDA Hardiness Zones.

  • Find out the rules and regulations for growing bamboo in your city/state.

  • Go for clumping species over running ones as they are non-invasive.

  • Make sure you grow your plant in a sheltered and sunny spot and water it regularly.

  • The soil should be rich in nutrients, well-drained, and moist.

  • If you have less space, smaller bamboo species can be grown in pots.

Final thoughts

A misconception people have when it comes to growing bamboo is that it’s illegal to grow it in the US due to its invasive properties. While it is true some invasive species of bamboo can wreak havoc on other plants and infrastructure, growing bamboo is legal in the US. In this guide, we’ve gone over some important tips, questions, and guidelines about growing bamboo and we hope you found it helpful!