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How Much Light Does Bamboo Need? (Solved!)

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a plant quite as cheery & bright as bamboo (Bambuseae spp.). Their interesting foliage and easy-going nature make for a stunning houseplant.

Most types of bamboo call for bright conditions – but how much of it do they need?

How much light your bamboo needs will depend on the cultivar or variety. Larger bamboo species (such as Golden Bamboo) require at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Others, such as lucky bamboo, require at least 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight every day.

Do Bamboo Plants Need a Lot of Light?

The majority of bamboo cultivars and varieties need a lot of light to thrive. Golden bamboo, giant bamboo, and bamboos in the Phyllostachys genus are examples of larger bamboo varieties.

To photosynthesize and meet their high-growth requirements, they require a lot of sunlight.

On the other hand, some bamboo varieties, especially those in Thamnocalamus, Fargesia, and Sasa genera, don’t require a lot of light.

You’ll need to provide them with at least five hours of bright light, even though they’re tolerant of most light conditions.

What Kind Of Light Does A Bamboo Need?

You’ll need to know the type of light that falls on that spot to figure out where your bamboo should go. You’ll need to consider the amount of light (light intensity) and the number of hours it receives.

You’ll also need to figure out the light’s direction, exposure, and whether it’s direct or filtered. Let’s look at it more closely.

Sunlight Exposure

The majority of bamboo cultivars thrive in direct sunlight. They’ve evolved to make the most of bright sunlight for photosynthesis.

However, you may need to shield some indoor bamboo plants from direct sunlight, particularly during the summer.

Overall, bamboo plants are an excellent choice for brightening up your home. In most parts of the United States, these include western and southern sun exposure.

Lucky bamboo, for example, can thrive with six to eight hours of bright indirect sunlight.

Whereas most bamboo plants will do great in steady bright indoor light, they can benefit from a few hours of direct, full sunlight.

Don’t forget that these plants are built to optimize the use of natural sunlight.

That being said, placing your bamboo in front of a south-facing window should be perfect. If you do so, it will receive the optimal amount of 5+ hours of sunlight throughout the day.

For delicate varieties, make sure there’s sheer drapery to filter out harsh sun rays.

The Direction of the Sun

The amount of sunlight that hits your bamboo will vary depending on which direction it is shining from. The light in the early morning is usually gentle and mild.

On the other hand, light during the hot midday hours is the harshest.

As a result, you must consider the direction of the window’s exposure. Mild morning sunlight will enter through an east-facing window.

However, it will not receive much light afternoon and for the rest of the day. In the case of west-facing windows, the opposite is true.

They only receive direct sunlight in the afternoon. In the morning, only a small amount of light enters through the west windows.

Don’t even get me started on windows that face north. Northern windows in the United States receive the least amount of light. They are protected from both the mild morning sun and the hot afternoon rays.

This can reduce the amount of light your bamboo receives. This is where south-facing windows come in handy. They have the most consistent bright sunlight all day.

So, if you intend to care for your bamboo indoors, south-facing windows are the gold standard.

It’s a better option because your bamboo will get plenty of direct sunlight.

The disadvantage is that you will need to irrigate your bamboo frequently to compensate for moisture loss due to evaporation.

The Intensity of Light

You’re probably aware that many bamboo plants prefer bright (intense) light. For larger bamboo varieties, it should be done directly.

It’s important to remember that as sunlight passes through windows, curtains, and shades, some of its intensity is lost.

As a result, place your bamboo as close as possible to a light source. In practice, this entails putting it on the south-facing window sill.

This is especially true in the fall and winter as the daylight hours decrease.

Do Bamboo like Sun or Shade?

It is critical to understand the type of bamboo you have in order to determine whether it requires sun, shade, or both. The majority of larger bamboo plants grow quickly and thrive in full sun.

For example, giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus giganteus), which thrives in US Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, needs partial to full sun.

Similarly, golden bamboo (which thrives in US hardiness zones 7 through 11) prefers full or partial sun.

Nonetheless, some varieties, such as Thamnocalamus, Fargesias, and lucky bamboos, will benefit from some shade. They require some shade during the hottest hours of the day (from noon to four).

Where Should You Place a Bamboo? 

Bamboo can tolerate a wide range of light levels, depending on the cultivar or variety. Low light, on the other hand, can cause slowed growth and leaf yellowing.

As a result, the best location would be one that receives plenty of partial to full sun.

As a plant expert, I’ve discovered that the distance from the nearest window is the most important consideration. You must also consider the size, type, and orientation of the window.

As an inexperienced plant owner, I mostly relied on the hand shadow technique to determine light brightness.

I eventually purchased a handy lux meter (Check the latest price on Amazon here).

Simply walk around your house and it will tell you how much light is falling on each location.

Overall, it is best to place your bamboo in the brightest part of your home. But where exactly?

I’ve created a generalized table to demonstrate the light intensities of various locations or placements in a modern home.

It is worth noting that the brightness of the light is expressed in lux. The standard unit of light illuminance is denoted by this. 1 FC (foot-candle) equals 10.764 lux or 1 lumen/square foot.

Light TypeLight Intensity (Lux)Location/Placement
Fully shadedLess than 100Dark zones like windowless bathrooms, staircases, hallways, basements, and tree-blinded windows. Not ideal for bamboos at all.
Low light (partially shaded)100 to 500Sunless northern windows-Spots located 5-6 ft from a window-East-facing windows
Moderate light500 to 1,000Most in-room spots five feet from a bright window fall under this category. The light is usually filtered and casts a fairly blurry hand shadow.
Indirect light (partial sun)2,500 to 10,000Areas behind a sheer certain locations 3-4 ft from east, west, or south-facing windows. The sunlight reaching these spots is strong, bright yet filtered.
Direct sunlight (full sun)Over 10,000Unshaded balconies, patios, sunrooms, and outdoors match this description. It also applies to window sills of south and west-facing windows.
Source: Reseachgate

If your bamboo variety needs partial to full sun, the perfect spot would be a sunroom balcony or a southern window sill.

Signs That Your Bamboo Isn’t Getting Enough Light

The majority of bamboos are sun-loving plants. When given enough sunlight, they thrive and provide you with a plethora of greenery. So, keep an eye out for these signs of insufficient light.

If your bamboo is stretching or leaning towards a window, door, or another light source, it isn’t getting enough light.

One side of the plant’s growth may be faster than the other. Is it skewed to one side rather than progressing upwards?

Bamboo canes or leaves may appear twisted or curled in the light. Because of the inadequacy, it is attempting to gather as much light as possible.

Canes may eventually grow longer and leaves may become stunted.

In many cases, rotating your bamboo will provide a temporary solution. However, you must position your bamboo so that all parts receive adequate light. Even better, relocate it to a brighter location.

Leggy Development

Leggy growth, like leaning, indicates that your bamboo is attempting to reach what it requires: light. Bamboos are fast-growing plants that will compete for light in order to stay healthy.

Your bamboo’s growth rate will be slower. The internodes of the canes, on the other hand, are extending. The foliage spacing has also been increased.

This creates a leggy appearance for your bamboo, with small, thin canes and stems.

Bamboo Changes Color to White or Yellow

Bamboo produces a lot of chlorophyll when it gets enough light. This is the biochemical pigment that is essential for photosynthesis.

When bamboo does not receive enough light, it does not produce as much chlorophyll. As a result, your bamboo will begin to pale or yellow.

It will most likely turn white, giving it a bleached appearance. Chlorosis can aggravate the loss of vigor and health.

There Is No New Growth

Plants, as previously stated, use chlorophyll to photosynthesize in the presence of light.

Your bamboo does not produce the food and energy it requires to grow in low light or darkness.

Your plant will express its dissatisfaction by ceasing growth in order to focus on survival.

Your bamboo can survive for a while on the food reserves it has stored. However, once it is gone, your plant will begin to decline.

The yellowing of leaves and stems will spread. To make matters worse, weak bamboos are prone to pests and diseases.

Bamboo Is Drying Out

Bamboo plants go into survival mode when exposed to extremely low light levels.

They will go to any length to increase their chances of surviving on whatever limited resources they have.

One strategy it employs is to ignore older leaves and canes. Yellowed or pale leaves are more likely to be sacrificed and to dry up.

They will eventually die and fall off the mother bamboo plant.

Soil Not Drying Out for Weeks

The majority of bamboos are hardy and drought-resistant. During times of scarcity, they will reduce growth activity. One such instance is when there is insufficient light or your plant is unable to photosynthesize efficiently.

As a result, your bamboo is not absorbing as much water. That means the growing medium or soil will remain moist, if not wet, for several weeks. Even if you stop watering your plant, this can continue.

How to Increase Lighting

Fortunately for you, the solution is as simple as providing more light to your bamboo. More specifically, you’ll need to relocate it to a prime location with plenty of natural light.

Bamboos, thankfully, aren’t fussy about light changes, so you can move it in one fell swoop.

Bamboo’s Ideal Location

But where is the best place to plant bamboo? The answer is dependent on the type of bamboo you are growing.

Assuming you have golden bamboo, it will need at least 6 to 8 hours of bright light per day, including a few hours in full sun.

Grow your golden bamboo in a sunroom or on a sunny balcony if possible. If you’re going to park it indoors, put it in front of a south-facing window.

You can be confident that it will receive plenty of bright sunlight throughout the day.

What if you don’t have a window facing south? Choose a brightly lit west or east-facing window in this case.

Simply place it on a window sill where the light is constant throughout the day.

Some species, such as luck bamboo and Fargesia, should be protected from the hot afternoon sun. As a result, it should be positioned behind sheer curtains.

Invest in LED Grow Lights with a High Output

It is true that bamboo prefers bright natural light. But what if it isn’t getting enough? Maybe it’s winter and the days are getting shorter!

That is where artificial grow light can come in handy. Consider purchasing high-output LED plants to grow lights labeled for bamboos or succulents.

They’ll provide enough light, and you can place your bamboo wherever you want.

Signs Your Bamboo Is Getting Too Much Sun

There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. And this is especially true for some sensitive bamboo varieties when it comes to light.

 Scorched Bamboo

Bamboos have a wide range of light requirements. Their needs differ from one species to the next.

Some bamboo varieties, in particular, prefer indirect sunlight and will be scorched if exposed to direct sunlight.

It’s a good idea to do some research on your specific bamboo species before planting.

You’ll want to place your bamboo in an area with plenty of light. More importantly, you want to keep it out of the sun’s rays.

The most visible sign of sunburn is browned edges and leaf tips.

They’re extremely crunchy, brittle, and dry. If the scorching continues, the rest of the leaf surfaces will become sunburned and brown.

 Scorched Bamboo

Bamboo Shriveling

Another telltale sign of too much direct sunlight exposure is shriveling. During the day, you’ll notice your bamboo leaves curling up.

These leaves will unfurl and flatten out again at nightfall or when the sun goes down.

For a variety of reasons, the leaves are shriveling and curling. For one thing, increased evaporation and transpiration are causing them to lose a lot of water.

Second, your bamboo is folding its foliage to reduce the amount of exposed surface area.

Pale Bamboo

Paling is the most visible sign of light imbalance in bamboo. It happens when there is either too much or too little light.

Sunburned bamboo leaves, on the other hand, tend to pale and dry out at the same time.

Translucent, Pale, or Brown Spots

You may be dealing with too much light if your bamboo leaves appear to be sprayed with pale brown or translucent spots. These spots indicate sunburn, bleaching, and paling.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Older bamboo leaves (and stems) can naturally turn yellow as they age.

However, if younger leaves are turning yellow as well, it is possible that overexposure to sunlight is the cause. It is caused by tissue damage caused by sunburn.

Unfortunately, yellowed bamboo leaves can be caused by a variety of other factors.

Overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, and, most importantly, low light must all be ruled out.

Lucky Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow

Bamboo Turning Purple

Some bamboo canes have a natural purple color. However, if the leaves are turning purple with some browning, sun scorching is to blame.

It indicates that your bamboo has a high concentration of anthocyanins, a purple pigment.

This pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, diffusing harmful UV rays and protecting your bamboo. However, make sure your bamboo is not deficient in phosphorus.

It is yet another major cause of plants turning purple.

What Should You Do If Your Bamboo Is Getting Too Much Light?

It’s simple: relocate your bamboo to a location where it won’t be scorched by the hot sun. In most cases, this simply means moving it away from the window.

Simply move it indoors if it is exposed to direct sunlight.

Your bamboo is naturally designed to resist the effects of direct sunlight.

If it is suffering, it could be due to a secondary issue such as underwatering, heat draft, or nutrient deficiency.

Ensure that these issues are resolved, as well as that the light placement is changed.