Bamboo In Wisconsin

Written by Carrie Woodward
Updated: May 12, 2023
© Ken Wolter/
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Where to Find Bamboo in Wisconsin

Though bamboo is not native to the state of Wisconsin, you may find it growing in some parts of the state. Wisconsin has cold, bitter winters, which make it difficult for certain types of bamboo to thrive. However, with some special attention, it is possible to cultivate specific types of bamboo in Midwestern states and help them survive the cold Wisconsin winters. This state may not be the ideal climate for growing bamboo, but by consulting with a horticulturist or other plant scientist, you may be able to find specific bamboo varieties that fit the Wisconsin climate and other environmental factors.

Did you know that bamboo can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions? In fact, this resilient plant requires very little support from fertilizer to grow, and is the fast-growing plant that grows on land. This hardy plant can easily withstand a range of temperatures. Bamboo can also grow in many different types of soil. Because of that, you can find it thriving across the United States, from California to Georgia and even up north in Wisconsin. 

Bamboo prefers to grow in well-draining soil rich in organic content and should be watered regularly. However, this drought-tolerant plant can survive dry conditions and withstand soils with a range of acidity levels. This beautiful plant is also a natural resource that can be made into many different products – from cutting boards to athletic shoes!

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Many people associate bamboo with Asia, and animals such as the giant panda. However, bamboo actually grows across the world, and can be cultivated throughout the regions of the United States.

Golden bamboo can be grown in Wisconsin
It is possible to cultivate specific types of bamboo in Midwestern states and help them survive the cold Wisconsin winters.

©Phuwadon Phichairat/

Challenges of Growing Bamboo in Wisconsin

Though you can find bamboo growing in Wisconsin, there are some factors that can make it challenging. For one thing, it is important that you choose the right species to cultivate. This will need to be a species that will be resilient and stand up to the harsh Wisconsin winter

There are between 1,500 and 2,000 different species called “bamboo” plants. These are grouped into over 100 different genera, which are in the “grass family” Poaceae. Poaceae belongs to the subfamily Bambusoideae. As a grass, bamboo can grow rapidly, attaining great heights. Because of their height and the thickness of a bamboo stalk, many people believe bamboo plants to be trees. 

In Wisconsin, well-established bamboo varieties can survive the cold winter weather. However, they need to grow long enough to become established and have some shelter from the wind. Some landscapers may choose to cover or insulate their bamboo plants throughout the winter, in case the temperature drops extremely low. With the proper precautions, growing bamboo can be very rewarding and result in beautiful, versatile plants for a home landscape.

There are several varieties of bamboo that may grow well in Wisconsin. These include Phyllostachys nigra, also known as black bamboo, Fargesia murielae, also known as umbrella bamboo, and Phyllostachys aurea, or golden bamboo. However, which one you plant may depend on where in Wisconsin you are located. You will also want to consider the planting location and other environmental conditions that might impact the growth of your young bamboo plant.

Umbrella bamboo can grow well in Wisconsin
The umbrella bamboo is a species that can grow well in Wisconsin.

©Manfred Ruckszio/

Bamboo Arboretums and Gardens in Wisconsin

If you want to find bamboo in Wisconsin, there are several places you can visit to see various species of bamboo thriving. Just a few of these locations are listed below. Visiting a bamboo garden or nursery can be a great way to learn more about the different bamboo varieties that can grow in Wisconsin. You could also talk to a plant nursery owner or worker to receive expert advice on how you can grow and care for bamboo in your own garden!

Do keep in mind that some of these gardens may have seasonal hours or require admission fees. Though some admissions information is included below, it is always a good idea to check their websites or call ahead before visiting. There are likely also other botanical gardens or public parks in Wisconsin that have bamboo on display. It is worth doing some research to see what special exhibits or gardens may be near you!

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, in Madison, was once voted in the top ten most inspiring gardens in North America by Horticulture Magazine! This outdoor garden features 16 acres of beautiful landscaping and plants hardy to the Midwestern region. On-site is also Bolz Conservatory, where you can see a broader range of exotic plant species, birds, and an indoor waterfall. Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a partnership between the City of Madison Parks and the Olbrich Botanical Society. Their Thai Pavilion and Garden is a setting of lush, tropical plants that are hardy for the Wisconsin climate. These include multiple different species of hardy bamboo. Together, the bamboo and other plants create an atmosphere meant to mimic that of a traditional garden in Thailand.

The outdoor gardens are free to visit any day of the week. Bolz Conservatory charges $6 per visitor every day except Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon.

Thai Garden
Olbrich Botanical Gardens features a Thai Garden filled with lush, tropical plants that are hardy for the Wisconsin climate.

© Boomsma

Boerner Botanical Gardens

In Hales Corners, a village in Milwaukee County just about 15 minutes outside of Milwaukee, Boerner Botanical Gardens is home to the Shrub Mall. In the Shrub Mall grow many different shrubs, vines, trees, and other plants. This Shrub Mall was designed to look and feel like an English country estate garden. It features a large lawn, or “mall,” design with borders mixing many different kinds of plants. Among these are bamboo. Boerner Botanical Gardens was established to nurture, sustain, and preserve understanding, enjoyment, and stewardship of the natural world. The garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices vary based on Wisconsin or County residency, age, disability status, and group size. Guided garden tours and event rentals are also available. 

Rotary Botanical Gardens

The award-winning Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville are 20 acres showcasing over 4,000 different plant varieties in 24 gardens. Each of these gardens is themed and intentionally designed, often in the style of another country’s culture. The Japanese Garden is a serene location for lily pad ponds, tall, green bamboo, and peaceful paths leading up to a classical Japanese bridge. The Rotary Botanical Gardens has educational activities for adults and children. They offer event rentals for special occasions like weddings. They also host summer concerts and other events throughout the year. The garden is entirely self-supported, as it does not receive funding from city, county, state, or federal sources. Therefore, it is a small non-profit entirely maintained thanks to volunteers from the community and a small but dedicated staff. 

The Rotary Botanical Gardens is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with adult tickets $9 each, with discounts available for seniors, youth, children, and military service members. 

Other Places to Find Bamboo in Wisconsin

In addition to the few places listed above, you can find bamboo in Wisconsin growing at several different private gardens and at multiple plant nurseries. These can be found in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and beyond! If you would like to visit one of these or learn more about growing bamboo in Wisconsin, reach out to a botanical garden, Master Gardeners club, or horticultural society.

It is also important to remember that bamboo does not grow natively in Wisconsin. Because of this, and its rapid growth rate, bamboo can be considered invasive and may need to be stopped from spreading. Before you plant bamboo in your home garden, do your research. Then you will learn which species will grow best in Wisconsin and be able to plan out the best cultivation strategy. Do your research and you will be set up for success at growing bamboo in Wisconsin!

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Giant Timber Bamboo
Towering at 20-50 feet, this clumping bamboo species produces thick-walled culms traditionally used in construction.
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About the Author

Carrie is a writer, bookworm, and fan of all types of plants and animals. Her apartment is home to more than dozen different houseplants and she aspires to adopt more in the near future. You can usually find Carrie walking the shores of Lake Michigan or reading a book under the trees in Chicago's Lincoln Park.

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