How to Grow and Care for Golden Bamboo Indoors

Golden bamboo with golden yellow-green stems standing together in shade

The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

In This Article

Bamboo has over a thousand plant species, and several tower 50 feet or more in the wild. But don't confuse "lucky bamboo" or the popular compact houseplant often bundled in rocks and water for a bamboo plant; it's not. Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is an authentic bamboo that can grow in containers indoors. It has narrow, lance-shaped leaves that grow in clusters on short stems from canes. It features bright green upright canes that turn to a golden color with age and sunlight exposure.

Golden bamboo grows quickly and can easily spread. It's best planted in the spring or early fall, though indoors, you generally can plant it any time of year. Planting it in a pot is ideal, keeping it contained and much more manageable. Indoors, it won't grow as large.

Common Names Bamboo, golden bamboo, fishpole bamboo, monk’s belly bamboo, fairyland bamboo
Botanical Name Phyllostachys aurea
Plant Type Perennial, rhizome, grass

Can You Grow Bamboo Inside?

This plant can be grown indoors, but no one says that growing bamboo inside is easy. To grow bamboo successfully indoors, you need a sturdy container and ample light and humidity. Bamboo needs at least 6 hours of light to thrive. Put bamboo in your sunniest window. Depending on the type, it can grow up to 5 to 8 feet tall; lower light usually means slower and less growth.

Common varieties that grow indoors in containers include Pleioblastus viridistriatus, dwarf green stripe bamboo, and Pseudosasa japonica, or arrow bamboo. Dwarf green stripe bamboo grows to 4 feet tall but usually stays about 2 1/2 feet tall indoors. Arrow bamboo grows taller and does well in shade or full sun, and can thrive in shade better than most bamboo species.

How to Grow Bamboo Indoors?

Regular watering and feeding will make up the bulk of your plant maintenance for growing bamboo indoors. To maintain the soil moisture level that bamboo likes, you might have to water your container plant more than once a week. But especially for an indoor plant where the climate stays constant, you should be able to establish a predictable care routine fairly easily. Most bamboos prefer a humidity level of 50% to thrive.

Sunlight

Bamboo prefers a spot that gets full sun to partial shade. Too much shade can result in a weak plant that does not grow to its fullest potential or develop its brilliant color. Indoors, keep your bamboo by your brightest window to get natural sunlight, and rotate the pot every week or so to ensure all sides of the plant get light.

Temperature and Humidity

Golden bamboo is known for its cold tolerance. It can survive temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time. However, prolonged cold weather can cause the plant to drop foliage and might eventually kill it. The plant prefers typical room temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it away from cold drafts from an air conditioner or drying heater vents. These plants thrive in humid air but have adapted to indoor dryness as long as it's kept well watered. 

Watering

Bamboo has some drought tolerance once established, and it can handle soggy soil for a short time. However, sitting in pooled water can rot the roots and kill the plant. The plant ideally should have evenly moist soil. Test the soil by sticking your finger an inch or two in it and watering it whenever it feels dry. Never let the soil dry out completely. But during the winter months, slightly cut back on watering.

Fertilizer

Feed your bamboo with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month to maintain an optimal amount of nutrients in your container plant’s soil, following label instructions. It also can be helpful to mix some organic compost into the soil, especially in the spring, to promote healthy plant growth.

Pruning and Maintenance

Bamboo typically doesn’t require pruning. You can remove old canes at their base if they begin to look unsightly. And you also can remove new shoots as they pop up from the soil if you want to limit your plant’s growth and spread.

Container and Size

Consider getting a metal or hardwood container since bamboo can break through plastic or terra cotta, and make sure it has ample holes for drainage. Pick a heavy pot so that it can anchor the weight of the bamboo canes. You will need at least a 10-gallon container to start. And if you don't want to repot it yearly, begin with a 20- or 30-gallon pot. Bamboo tends to send runners, which likes a pot that is wider versus deep. Clumping types of bamboo do better in a container with equal dimensions.

Potting Soil and Drainage

This plant tolerates various soil types but prefers organically rich soil with good drainage. It does not like soggy soil. A commercial potting mix or a mixture of peat moss and perlite should be fine for container plants.

Potting and Repotting Bamboo

When starting with a small nursery bamboo plant, you can use a pot that is 12 inches wide and deep. You can add rocks or gravel to the bottom of the pot to anchor the plant’s weight. Place the root ball in the pot, and fill in around it with a loose, nutrient-rich potting mix. You can mix in some compost to encourage growth. Then, water the bamboo well.

You might need to move your bamboo to a larger pot every year or two once the roots have spread through the entire pot and you see them coming out of the holes in the bottom or poking up out of the soil on top. Don’t allow your plant to remain in a pot that’s too small for it for very long, as it won’t be able to get enough nutrients to stay healthy. An indoor plant typically will do fine being repotted at any time of year, but the start of the growing season in the spring, when the plant is revving up its growth, is generally the best time for repotting.

FAQ
  • What are popular Phyllostachys aurea varieties of bamboo?

    'Flavescens Inversa' has a yellow stripe on the lower portion of its canes. 'Holochrysa' canes turn golden faster than others of the species. 'Koi' canes turn yellow with green stripes.

  • Why are bamboo leaves turning yellow?

    The most common reason for yellowing leaves is too much sunlight or too salty or fluoridated tap water. Water with filtered water and reduce its sun exposure.

  • Does bamboo flower?

    Yes, bamboo blooms, but their intervals vary by species or type. Some bamboo varieties flower annually, and some will not flower for over 100 years. Golden bamboo rarely blooms, and when it does, it can take decades. Flowers are usually in the form of 2-inch spikelets with nearly a dozen flowers on them.