Bamboo is a type of perennial grass that grows all over the world. With more than 1,500 species, there is a variety of bamboo for nearly every climate except the subarctic and arctic. Growing bamboo in the desert is not impossible; in general, bamboo requires shelter from freezing temperatures and high winds, as well as a sufficient amount of water. Gardeners are growing bamboo in the deserts of the American southwest, as well as the high deserts of Idaho, Oregon and California.
Research bamboo species. Most hardy bamboos are running varieties; however, the rhizomes will not spread past the water source into dry desert soils. Bamboos that are grown in desert climates include Otatea aztecorum "Mexican Weeping Bamboo," native to the Sonoran desert of Mexico, and Phyllostachys aurea "Golden Bamboo," a drought-tolerant variety that grows up to 10 feet tall.
Select a place in the garden, sheltered from high winds and convenient to the water source. Most species of bamboo are heavy water users.
Dig the planting hole with a shovel, a little deeper than the pot and 3 feet in diameter. Fill the hole with water and allow to soak into the soil. Amend the excavated soil with an acidic compost suitable for rhododendrons. Bamboo plants prefer a slightly acidic soil, while desert soils are generally more alkaline.
Remove the bamboo from the pot and gently place in the planting hole. Backfill with the amended soil and tamp gently. Water thoroughly.
Arrange the drip-watering system so the emitter directs water on the bamboo's root ball. If you are planting a hedge of running bamboo, consider using a soaker hose. Run it along the hedge line so the rhizomes will follow the water source. Cover the planting area with 4 inches of mulch.
Suspend shade cloth or white sheets over the new plants to protect them from the hot desert sun. While most bamboos are sun-loving, a newly planted bamboo needs shelter to acclimate to its location in the garden.
Fertilize in the summer and fall with a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer or well-composted manure.