Giant Timber Bamboo in a city backyard

fat new bamboo shoots sprouting, with a ruler "You planted bamboo in your yard?! Doesn't it spread?"

No, not all bamboo tries to take over the neighborhood. There are two different types of bamboo, clumping and running. Clumping bamboo enlarges slowly and politely, like a large shrub. My giant timber bamboo, Bambusa oldhamii, is a clumping bamboo. We have a small city backyard, and this bamboo is just right for it. Unlike any of our other plants, it is far taller than it is wide.

The bamboo to beware of is running bamboo, which spreads agressively, like crabgrass. I once saw a bamboo culm growing out of the grass in the middle of a child's swingset, having invaded our friends' yard from their neighbor's. It's rude to plant uncontained running bamboo in a small city backyard!

This last June was the driest ever recorded for our area. Since then there's been plenty of rain, though. Our bamboo has put up as many new sprouts as it had mature stalks this spring. They grow amazingly quickly!
my bamboo
This bamboo is just wonderful. It's huge. Really huge. The newer culms are four inches in diameter. It's about 45 feet tall, just three years after planting. Watching it grow has been amazing. Our grove is only about three feet across, though it may grow to ten feet in maturity.

I ordered my Giant Timber Bamboo in a five gallon pot from Bamboosourcery in January of 2002. Their web site made it easy to pick out the features I want in a bamboo: clumping, not running; able to withstand the occasional light frost; and four inches or greater in diameter. They say that giant timber bamboo can take temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. (There are other types of bamboo that will take winter temperatures down as low as -20 degrees F.)

Giant timber bamboo is supposed to be one of the tastiest of all bamboo varieties, if you eat the young sprouts, breaking them off once they reach 18" or so. We have not tried it yet, though. We want to keep it all, for now.

Posted: Thu - August 18, 2005 at 12:18 PM