Thinning out giant clumping timber bamboo

The giant clumping timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) in front of the house has been going great guns this year. It’s hard to believe it hasn’t even been in the ground for two full years! Click here to read more about this particular specimen and to see photos of its progress.

Bambusa oldhamii on 9/11/11

While the jungle look has its charms, I decided this morning to do some trimming to let some light and air into the center of the clump. My initial goal was to remove some lateral branches from the bottom to make the culms more visible. Somehow I ended up letting out my inner Edward Scissorhands and in addition to removing branches I also cut down the oldest—and thinnest—culms as well as a couple of thick but short culms (late shoots from last fall that didn’t mature before the winter and lost their tops to frost).

The difference from before is dramatic. You can now see the culms and the clump looks more balanced.

Bambusa oldhamii on 10/29/11…
…after thinning

Here are two of those thick but congested culms. I’m keeping them for use as stakes.

Two of the largest culms I cut down

Fortunately, the city of Davis has yard waste pickup, so all I had to do was form a neat pile by the curb.

Yard waste pile
Amazing how long some of the branches can get—each node has one main lateral branch and several other minor branches

Bambusa oldhamii is notorious as a late shooter. In fact, I discovered two new shoots this morning. They’re about 2 inches in diameter. I’m afraid they’re not going to fully extend before winter and will end up as thick, but congested, culms—just like the ones I removed this morning.

Two new shoots, about 2 inches in diameter at the bottom


  1. It's going to sound bad because it's the same thing you said when I pruned by Ph. bissetii, but I like the "before" look better. It won't be long before the "jungle" look comes back though. :-)


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