"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.

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.

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.

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.

About the Author

Patricia Hamilton Reed has written professionally since 1987. Reed was editor of the "Grand Ledge Independent" weekly newspaper and a Capitol Hill reporter for the national newsletter "Corporate & Foundation Grants Alert." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University, is an avid gardener and volunteers at her local botanical garden.

Photo Credits

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