Bambusa bambini

With the recent onset of summer weather (and temperatures hovering around the century mark), some of our clumping bamboos in the Bambusa family have kicked their shoot production into high gear.

Bambusa bamboos are native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia. The generation of new shoots—a process so aptly called “shooting”—is usually triggered by the onset of the summer monsoons. Since the bamboos in our garden are irrigated on a regular basis, it is the summer heat that triggers shooting rather than the sudden availability of abundant moisture.

The entrance to our front yard is dominated by two Bambusa: Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ (or Baby Blue Bamboo) and Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’. Both are putting out shoots that are much larger in diameter than last year. It will be exciting to see how tall they will grow!

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Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ (left) and
Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ (right, behind the gate)

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On Saturday I did some pruning on the ‘Alphonse Karr’. I removed some lower branches to expose the culms (a technique called “legging up”) and cut out some older, smaller culms that were leaning excessively. I think it made quite a difference (“before” on the left, “after” on the right).
Some of the new shoots on this ‘Alphonse Karr’. There are about 10 new shoots in total.

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New shoots on Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’. These are approaching 3/4” in diameter.

The Alphonse Karr in our backyard is shooting, too, but the large Oldham’s Bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) outside the front yard fence is still playing coy. I expect it to start shooting very soon, and I’m hoping for culms that are noticeably above 1” in diameter.

Another Bambusa I planted last year is busy as well: Asian Lemon Bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridivittata’). It’s planted in the front yard inside the fence, right next to our now-aging tower of jewels. In fact, you can see the bright yellow culms of this bamboo in many photos included in my original tower of jewels post. The new culms are a pale lemon color (see the culm on the left in the photo below), while the older culms have aged to a rich yellow reminiscent of Painted Bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’), a tropical species we can’t grow here.

Asian Lemon Bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridivittata’)

Since we had a much cooler and longer spring than usual this year, plants aren’t following their customary schedule (tomatoes, for instance, are woefully behind). But with nothing but summer weather in the forecast, the stragglers should soon catch up, including the Bambusas who seem to be taking their time getting going.


  1. Bambusas are lovely, wish we could grow some of them here long term. Alas, too cold for them to remain evergreen and summers are too cool to get them going again after being cut back. Love the title btw :)

  2. Mark and Gaz, I'm very grateful I can grow bambusas here. While I actually prefer the look of a well-groomed stand of Phyllostachys (like yours), I do love the plant-and-forget convenience of Bambusa.


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