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.