Late-shooting bamboos

Fall is finally here and our current temperatures are a far cry from the 95°F+ we had just two weeks ago. Still, several of our bamboos have new shoots. While most running bamboos—and the clumping mountain bamboos like the fargesias and borindas—shoot in the spring and early summer, many tropical and subtropical clumping bamboos like the bambusas shoot in summer and into fall. Having said that, maybe our recent mini heat wave tricked them into shooting even later than they normally would? As is so often the case, bamboo seems to do what it wants when it wants.

Bambusa dolichomerithalla 'Silverstripe'
in 5-gallon nursery container,
bought 6 weeks ago from Bamboo Sourcery. This shoot, like many bambusa shoots, is fairly plain-looking. Contrast that with the Asian lemon bamboo shoot below.

As long as temperatures continue to be mild, there’s hope that the shoots will continue to grow, albeit slowly. On the other hand, the plant might just give up on a new shoot and stop supplying it with water and nutrients so it dies off.

Bambusa oldhamii (common name: giant clumping timber bamboo)
new shoot on the left--it’s already about 8 in. tall.

The Asian lemon bamboo shown below was planted just a couple of months ago in what was for us the middle of summer. Maybe that is why it’s shooting so late? According to the information I was able to find, it’s supposed to shoot much earlier (April or May).

Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridivittata'
(common name: Asian lemon bamboo)
Closeup of the same new shoot.
Look at the stunningly striped culm sheath.
It will fall off when the branches develop.

The bamboos above are all in the genus bambusa, native to the low-elevation subtropical and tropical regions of Asia. However, I also have one montane bamboo that is still shooting. “Montane” or “mountain bamboos” are higher-elevation species from the Andes or the Himalayas. Unlike the bambusas, they don’t like prolonged summer heat—especially in conjunction with high humidity—and need to be grown in the shade in our climate. Some montane species are among the hardiest of all (like many fargesias), others are surprisingly wimpy when it comes to the cold (like my ‘Teague’s Blue below and many chusqueas).

Most montane bamboos shoot very early—some fargesias as early as January in our climate. That’s why I was surprised to find a new shoot on my ‘Teague’s Blue’ so late in the season. I doubt that I will grow to maturity this year; I’ll cover it with leaves to protect it as much as possible so it can resume its growth next spring.

Himalayacalamus hookerianus ‘Teague’s Blue’


  1. I am curious about how your viridivittata has been doing lately. I also had a late shoot last year and what I read was that they shoot (at their origin) during the hot wet weather. In Richmond we get the hot weather in Sept so with irrigation it probably felt it was a good time to shoot. The shoot stopped growing in Oct and then resumed in the spring and is the tallest culm right now. I got two new shoots in spring. I am hoping for more so I wonder how yours has been progressing and when the shoots come and how many.


Post a Comment