We carry two categories of clumping bamboo:
1 - The most cold-hardy of the subtropical clumpers
2 - The most heat-tolerant of the temperate clumpers
Once you make sure you're planting the correct bamboo for your conditions, care of these plants is not that dissimilar to any other shrub. In order of importance what you want to manage:
1 - Watering
Bamboo typically likes a medium amount of water - not too dry and definitely not wet feet. After the bamboo is established (6 months - 1.5 years depending on what size plant you start with) it can typically take care of itself and doesn't need to be watered.
2 - Fertilizing
Fertilizing is optional but will help rapid growth just as any other plant
3 - Pruning
Clumping bamboo has rhizomes that do spread underground, but they spready slowly (typically an inch or two per year) and it behaves more like a traditional shrub. After a number of years, if the base starts to get too large, you can simply cut back the outside culms. Alternatively you can cut the outside shoots when it is shooting (summer/fall for subtropical and spring for temperate types).
Although bamboo plants can last almost indefinitely, the individual culms (stalks) on bamboo typically last about 10 years and then die. So after the plant has been in the ground a few years it is recommended that once per year in the fall you cut out any dead growth.
If you would like to shape your bamboo, you can do this easily as cut growth doesn't grow back. For example, if you want your bamboo to stay at 10' tall but it's growing 15' tall, you can simply top it off and it will never regrow. However, new shoots come up each year so the new shoots may grow past that 10', but you would then just top off the new growth each year. Similarly bamboo responds well to shaping/pruning for a manicured look, or looks great in its natural form.
For more questions about taking care of clumping bamboo, contact us!