Gerhard and the Bamboostalk?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the clumping bamboos in our front yard. They’ve put on tremendous growth this year. Just how much was brought home this morning when I looked out the upstairs loft window. There are more new culms than I bothered to count, and they haven’t even leafed out yet. Once they have, the view from upstairs will be very different for sure!

Left (back): Bambusa oldhamii
Middle: Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’
Right: Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’

Our giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii), the darker green bamboo on the left, has five new culms that range from 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. They’re not visible from this angle yet, but once they’ve reached their final height, our neighbor’s front yard might be almost invisible.

I love all this growth—that’s the reason why we planted bamboo in the first place—but it is a bit scary to think that it will continue next year, and the year after…

I will definitely cut back on the fertilizer and maybe on the water, too. Otherwise I might find myself in my own version of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Gerhard and the Bamboostalk, one might say.


  1. I'm not very familiar with the clumpers, but won't these three be quite congested in a couple of years? It seems like 3 in that space might be too much.

    Also, I just spent a week in southern California and although it's cool seeing bamboos planted in lots of different places, I saw plenty that looked a little "tired" when not cared for. So I don't know that I'd cut back on fertilizer or water.

  2. Alan, I agree with you, two bamboos would have been enough in that space, but what would gardeners like us do with a challenge? I'll keep shaping the plants so they fit the space and look their best, and that will mean rigorous removal of shoots/culms where they're not wanted.

    What you saw in SoCal is pretty typical for this time of year. Our air is so dry that bamboos (and many other leafy plants) do look tired by mid-summer. They'll perk up again when cooler fall weather arrives.

    Did you take photos of the bamboos you saw on your trip?

  3. No photos. I was always driving when I saw them. I wanted to pull over a few times but schedule wouldn't allow.

  4. How much taller are your new oldhamii shoots compared to the old culms? So far, mine are about 2-3 feet taller tops of the previous culms, which also have branches to add height.

  5. Dave, right now the new oldhamii shoots are as tall as the existing culms, but they're not done growing. I'm hoping they'll be at least 5-10 ft. taller eventually. I'll keep you posted.

  6. Hi Gerhard, that's not so bad actually, to have a few large culms coming out from your clumps of bamboo.

    When you get these big culms you can even thin out some of the smaller and bushier culms and leave the thick ones behind to better appreciate them :)

  7. M&G, funny, Heather and I just talked about that very thing: removing the thinnest culms and some of the lower branches on the other culms to give the clump a more architectural look. This is a task for the fall when it's cooler :-).


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