Bamboo is a fascinating plant that is noticeable for its particularly rapid growth. Of the approximately 1500 different types of bamboo, around 100 are sufficiently hardy in Germany and are preferably planted as fast-growing privacy screens or in Asian-designed gardens. How fast bamboo grows and when it is fully grown depends on the one hand on the specific variety and on the other hand on the microclimate prevailing in the region.

Which types of bamboo grow in Germany?

The numerous types of bamboo are mainly distinguished from one another by their height growth. Low variants are only between ten and 100 centimeters high, medium-high ones up to seven meters and high species up to 15 meters. However, even a giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus) will not be that high in Germany, since the climatic conditions simply do not allow such height growth here.

Nevertheless, the fastest growing giant bamboo of all species is an ornament in German gardens, as it is sufficiently hardy and can therefore be planted out without any problems. Only in the first few years after planting do young specimens require light winter protection.

Other hardy bamboo species in Germany:

  • Fargesia bamboo (especially Fargesia murielae)
  • Phyllostachys bissetii: also Bisset bamboo
  • Phyllostachys aurea: also golden bamboo, golden Peking bamboo

Many other species, on the other hand, should better be cultivated in pots and overwintered frost-free, as they do not survive the sometimes deep frosts in some regions of Germany.

Tip: Bamboo is an extremely robust plant: If a hardy bamboo freezes back, it sprouts out of its rhizomes and quickly regains its old splendor. This anecdote shows how resilient sweet grass actually is: After the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, bamboo plants were the first plants to emerge from the ground again.

How does bamboo grow?

Depending on the type and variety, bamboo plants can be as big as trees, but they grow completely differently. The biggest difference is the lack of growth in the thickness of the stalks, which push themselves out of the earth with their final diameter and only strive upwards. Furthermore, most species have little or no branching.

1. Underground growth

The different types of bamboo differ not only in terms of their height growth, but also in terms of their underground growth. Some species form subterranean shoot axes, the so-called rhizomes, which act as nutrient stores and from which both the roots and the above-ground stalks sprout. Grove-forming bamboos – which, with the exception of the Fargesia, include almost all hardy species – develop rhizomes up to ten meters wide, which is why you should definitely install a root barrier when planting.

Clumpy growing bamboos, on the other hand, including the popular fargesia, do not spread as much. Instead, the rhizomes remain compressed and new stalks always grow close to the mother plant. A rhizome barrier is not necessary for these species.

2. Above-ground growth

Bamboo stalks grow to their final height between May and August – the main growth phase in our latitudes – and unfold their branches and leaves in the process. When the sprouts actually come out of the ground depends heavily on the type of bamboo and the weather: While Phyllostachys species often sprout very early, some tropical variants do not develop their sprouts until late in summer.

Fast growing bamboo

A bamboo stalk reaches its final height within just four to six weeks and then stops growing. The stalks slide telescopically out of the ground, with the distances between the individual nodes already defined in the rhizome. Only when the stalk has reached its final height do the twigs and leaves unfold, and the stalk sheaths protecting the rhizome fall off. In Germany, a bamboo plant can grow between around two and 30 centimeters per day, depending on its species, variety and weather.


It can take up to seven years for a bamboo plant to reach its final height. During this time, the newly sprouting stalks grow a little higher every year, so that the new shoots tower over those from the previous year. Each stalk has a lifespan of around four to seven years, after which it dries up and turns gray. Cut dead stalks close to the ground to make room for new shoots.

Growth depends on the climatic zone

Of course, the Central European climate is very different from that in Japan or China, from which most of the bamboo species we cultivate come from. However, the climatic conditions and thus the important prerequisites for growth are not the same everywhere in Germany either.

Different types for different climates

The Phyllostachys species in particular thrive in regions with mild winter conditions, such as the Rhine-Main area, and can grow as tall and wide here as they do in their homeland. In contrast, the increase in the cooler and more humid areas of northern Germany remains significantly smaller: stalks of species that can naturally be up to ten centimeters thick only grow by around two to a maximum of five centimeters in thickness. Fargesia, on the other hand, thrive particularly well in northern Germany due to the higher humidity, but in the warmer and drier regions they have to be more watered and fertilized.

Note the microclimate

In addition to the major climates, the small climatic conditions in individual gardens also play a major role in the growth of bamboo plants. Above all, bamboos of the Phyllostachys species thrive much better in sunny and sheltered locations than in a draughty and partially shady part of the same garden. Since it is also warmer in cities than in the country, these bamboo varieties feel more comfortable in city gardens and grow more extensively here than in a small village a few kilometers further.

Growth behavior of the most popular bamboo species

Apart from the climate, bamboo growth depends largely on the type and variety planted.

1. Fargesia
The clump-forming Fargesia species reach heights of between one and five meters in Germany, with average daily growth being around two to three centimeters under favorable climatic conditions. Fargesia robusta ‘Campbell’, which after about four years can reach a height of more than five meters, grows to be the highest. The plants stay compact, a rhizome barrier is not necessary.

2. Phyllostachys
In Germany, these three Phyllostachys species are particularly popular in the ornamental garden:

  • Phyllostachys nigra: Schwarzrohrbambus
  • Phyllostachys edulis: Moso-Bambus
  • Phyllostachys aurea: Goldrohrbambus

All of the species mentioned develop wide-spreading rhizomes and should therefore never be planted without a rhizome barrier. The genus is considered to be particularly fast-growing, so that in favorable locations it can grow to heights of seven meters and more – and that within just eight to ten weeks.

Tip: The young sprouts of some Phyllostachys species are edible and can be used for many typical Asian dishes. Phyllostachys edulis, P. glauca and P. nigra ‘Boryana’ are particularly tasty. However, never enjoy the saplings raw, they always have to be cooked!

3. Dwarf bamboo
The so-called dwarf bamboo includes the genera Sasella and Sasa with average heights between 30 and 200 centimeters. Both forms of bamboo are fully grown after about four to five years and need a rhizome barrier.Pleioblastus bamboos, on the other hand, are ideally suited as ground cover, as they remain very low and grow more in width than in height.

4. Pseudosasa japonica
The Japanese arrow bamboo is also extremely fast-growing and even in Germany reaches heights of up to 180 centimeters in the first year.

Tip: Don’t be surprised if the freshly planted bamboo doesn’t really want to grow in the first year. This behavior is completely normal in many species and varieties, as the rhizome is formed first. Only when this is firmly rooted in the ground does the plant also sprout above ground.

Various bamboo plants can also thrive in Germany. In addition to the different varieties, the growth also depends on the weather and the location. As a result, bamboo grows faster in milder regions than in cooler regions, such as in the north of the country. After about 7 years a plant will have reached its final height. Until then, individual stalks can grow 2 to 30 centimeters per day.

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