"Alphonse Karr" has yellow and green striped canes.

How to Fertilize Alphonse Karr Bamboo

by Patricia H. Reed

You don't have to be afraid to plant bamboo. When you plant a clumping variety such as "Alphonse Karr" (Bambusa multiplex "Alphonse Karr"), you can get the impact of a large plant -- it reaches up to 35 feet tall -- without the danger that it might take over the neighborhood. "Alphonse Karr" is suitable for planting in the ground in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10, but grows well in containers indoors elsewhere. Regular fertilizer is needed to fuel the fast-growing plant's healthy development.

1 Plant "Alphonse Karr" bamboo outdoors in a mix made up of equal parts native soil, top soil, peat moss or ground pine bark, and composted manure. Composted manure with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium formulation of no more than 5-5-5, should be the only fertilizer used on a bamboo for its first year to avoid burning the plant's roots.

2 Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to an established outdoor "Alphonse Karr" bamboo equal to 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 100 square feet of planting area in early spring just before shoots emerge and start growing. For instance, when applying a 21-5-6 product, you would need to work 2 pounds of the product into the soil of a 10-foot-square area with a rake. Fertilize again in midsummer with the same product and amount to encourage root and bud development. Water well following fertilizer application to prevent root burn. Outdoor bamboo generally needs 1 inch of water once a week.

3 Water potted "Alphonse Karr" bamboo regularly throughout the growing season with a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer, following the higher-end of the recommended application rate. For instance, mix 1/2 teaspoon of Miracle-Gro All-Purpose Plant Food, with a formulation of 24-8-16, in a gallon of water and apply every seven days from early spring until late summer.

Items you will need

  • Composted manure
  • Shovel
  • High-nitrogen, granular fertilizer
  • Rake
  • All-purpose water-soluble fertilizer
  • Watering can


  • Bambusa multiplex varieties of bamboo are considered safe for planting in areas accessible by kids and pets.
  • Standard lawn fertilizer blends can be used to fertilize outdoor bamboo, since the plant is a grass.


  • Keep fertilizer products out of the reach of children and pets.

Photo Credits

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