Bambusa oldhamii

giant timber bamboo
Dense, clumping, vibrant green, upright growth. Large leaves. Bamboo Can reach great size in warmer areas.
Bambusa oldhamii
height 30–50ft
width 10–15ft
tolerates Deer
Moderate – High
Oldhamii adds a lush look to any garden and will need regular irrigation to look its vibrant best. These plants are tough; once established, they usually won’t die without irrigation, but they might start to look droopy and dry. Regular watering will give them their signature lushness!

Water this plant regularly, when the top inch or so of soil feels dry. If you establish this pattern over several years, then you can cut back to watering every week or two in dry weather. Use a slow stream of water so that it doesn’t run off; allow the water to trickle all the way down through the deepest layers of soil. In a pot slowly water the entire surface until water comes out of the bottom of your pot.
exposure Full Sun – Part Sun
drainage In Ground: Planting Mix, In Pots: Potting Soil, Tolerates Heavy Soil
origin S China
9, 12–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

This clumping Bamboo doesn’t have the ‘escape artist’ qualities that can give running bamboo a bad reputation. These bamboos will make a slowly expanding circular clump and do not need a bamboo liner. If you’d like to have a long line of bamboo, such as along a driveway, you’ll want to plant multiples spaced evenly. If you plant it along a fenceline, clumping bamboo will still make the same sized clump, with half of it on the far side of the fence.
Remember that Bamboo is a grass, and that will help you understand how to care for it, from watering to pruning and fertilizing. It likes food and water in order to look vibrant and appreciates nitrogen. A yearly addition of compost and mulch in the fall is a great way to keep your bamboo looking lush and clean.
Bamboo looks best when the old shoots are thinned out annually; this also invigorates the bamboo and encourages it to send out new growth. You can also prune up the ‘branches’ to expose the canes, or prune the tips of those branches and thin them to get a staggered bonsai effect. You can also top bamboo if it gets too tall, or if you’d like to have it look more formal like a hedge. However, some people feel this ruins the natural plume silhouette.
Bamboo sheds leaves constantly, and it’s recommended not to remove this leaf matter if possible, as it builds up a nice layer of compost to feed the soil and keep in water. Keep this shedding in mind when underplanting with small plants (they might get buried) or when bamboo is placed near pools, patios, roof drains, etc.
Oldhamii will grow in fairly deep shade, but the shoots are weak and easily snap in windstorms.

Special Interest

Many bamboos are edible, including oldhamii! If you’d like to taste some succulent bamboo shoots, choose an edible variety and blanch them. You can do this by covering emerging shoots in a thick layer of mulch. Once they poke through the mulch, dig back to ground level and cut the bamboo there. You can also fill a bucket with mulch and cut a hole in the bottom. Guide the bamboo shoot through the hole as it emerges from the soil and cut it off below the bucket when it emerges from the top of the mulch.

When bamboo blooms it is synchronized among plants of the same type worldwide over a couple of years. The reason for this is still a bit of a mystery, but it likely has to do with the plant’s production through division, which essentially means that the worldwide population is one cloned plant. Often after bamboo blooms it becomes ragged or dies completely, needing to be replaced. Luckily blooming bamboo are exceedingly rare.