I have some inside bamboo – not sure if it is true bamboo – probably ‘lucky’ bamboo? At the Home Show, the master gardener said to use a soil-less potting mix. I have been looking all over for this, without luck. What exactly is this called and where can I get some? She said it has vermiculite and no moss or bark in it, so it absorbs then drains the excess water out well.
All-purpose soilless mixes are available from garden centres and hardware stores. We are not permitted to recommend a particular brand, but I suggest that you speak with someone at one of these centres to find an l mix for your needs.
These mixes are usually made up of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, and are light in weight and provide good drainage. Some mixes are sterilized, so won’t introduce pathogens or pests. Other common ingredients are composted softwood bark and sand. These mixes may also contain slow-release fertilizer or added compost, which will provide nutrients for the plants. Avoid mixes that are clumpy or feel heavy.
Make sure your plants are fertilized appropriately, as soilless mixes that do not contain fertilizer or compost do not have the nutrients plants require in order to grow. And even these nutrient sources will be depleted after a time, so eventually the plants will need to be fed. It is recommended that around 25% of a soilless mix in a pot be replaced every year, and completely replaced every 5 years or so.
Ordinary garden soil is not used for indoor plants or outdoor containers/pots, as it is heavy and likely to compact, so would likely cause problems for the plant’s root system, and impede drainage. As well, soil can bring disease, insect and weed problems.
For more details, see the University of Vermont Extension’s Potting mix for organic growers
Finally, although your bamboo plants should do well in an all-purpose soilless mix, specialty potting mixes may be recommended for some plant, e.g., orchids, cacti and African violets. If you ever bring one of these plants home, do some research on the best mixes for them.
May your bamboo plants thrive!