Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Bambusa

Bamboo
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Bamboo

Though some grow as tall as trees, all bamboos are actually grasses. Plants consist of woody stems (culms) that are divided into sections (internodes) by obvious joints (nodes). Upper nodes grow buds that develop into branches and leaves. Bamboos spread by underground stems (rhizomes) that, like the aboveground culms, are jointed and carry buds. Members of this genus, Bambusa, are all clumping bamboos—that is, their rhizomes grow just a few inches from the edges of the clump, then send up stems. Clumps expand continually but slowly.

Culms of all bamboos have already attained their maximum diameter when they emerge from the ground. In mature plants, new shoots usually reach their maximum height within 1 to 2 months. Culms of giant types may grow in length several feet a day. Don’t expect such growth the first year after transplanting, though.

Flowering of bamboos is one of the great mysteries of this unique plant. Most species flower periodically all over the world at the same time for a period of 2 to 7 years at intervals varying from 10 to 120 years, depending on species. Flowering generally weakens these plants, and although they may slowly recover, they often die. Very heavy feeding and watering may speed their recovery. Bamboo flowers are interesting but not usually decorative, resembling the seed heads of other grains.

Bambusa oldhamii (photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Bambusa oldhamii (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

Click to Enlarge

Bambusa oldhamii

From south China and Taiwan, this densely foliaged clumping bamboo grows to 15–25 ft. tall early on, but can eventually reach 20–55 ft.; stems are about 4 in. in diameter. The plant’s erect clumps are good for big, dense screens—or use a single plant as an imposing vertical mass.

Bambusa tuldoides ventricosa

From south China. In good open garden conditions, this clumping bamboo grows 15–30 ft. tall. It remains small, producing the swollen culms that give it its name, only when it’s grown in tubs or in poor, dryish soil.

Bambusa ventricosa

Stays small, produces swollen culms that give it its name only when grown in tubs or in poor, dryish soil. Otherwise a giant bamboo with straight culms. Consists of the giant bamboos. Use running kinds for groves or for Asian effects on a grand scale. Clumping kinds have a tropical look, especially if they are used with broad-leafed tropical plants.All may be thinned and clipped to show off culms. Thin clumps or groves by cutting out old or dead culms at the base.

Bambusa multiplex
Bambusa multiplex

Click to Enlarge

‘Alphonse Karr’

From south China and Taiwan, this clumping bamboo grows 8–10 ft. tall at first, but eventually 15–35 ft. tall, with 1/2- to 1-in. stems that branch from the base of the plant to the top. Dense foliage. Culms are brilliantly striped green on yellow. New culms are pinkish and green.

Bambusa multiplex ‘Golden Goddess’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Bambusa multiplex ‘Golden Goddess’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

Click to Enlarge

‘Golden Goddess’

From south China and Taiwan, this golden-stemmed bamboo has graceful, dense, arching growth that reaches 6–10 ft. tall and wide, with 1/2-in. stems. It’s a good container or screen plant. Give tops room to spread.

Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

Click to Enlarge

‘Vittata’

Yellow culms have vertical green stripes. Best in Hawaii, mildest coastal climates, and well-lit interiors. Controlled height to 15–25 ft.; uncontrolled height to 50 ft. Stem diameter to 4 in. Hardy to 32°F (0°C).

You Might Also Like...

Blueberry

Native to eastern North America; for ornamental species, see

Allium unifolium

California native. Satiny, lavender-pink flowers on 1–2-ft. stems in late spring. Spreads freely...

Gypsophila

Slender-stemmed, much-branched plants are upright or spreading, ranging from 3 in. to 4 ft. tall. Bloo...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement