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Bamboo pruning tip: 'Legging Up' gives bamboo that classic look

Posted Feb 12 2011 11:45pm

Often when thinking of bamboo in a nicely manicured garden, it's common to associate it with long, exposed vertical culms (canes) topped with nice green, dense foliage.  Neat, sleek and clean looking - there is a way to prune bamboo to create this 'classic' bamboo look, called 'Legging up.'

'Legging up' involves pruning thin, weak culms from the plant; and cutting off the branches and leaves from the nodes from the lower three to four feet of the plant. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears to make clean cuts both in thinning culms; and in cutting the branches and leaves from the nodes.   'Legging up' should be done around May for clumping bamboo and September for running bamboo.

It's easy to do and is actually beneficial to the bamboo plant because it opens up the interior to more sunlight and airflow.  Further, the loss of old leaves puts more energy back into the root mass to further future culm development and the generation of new, fresh leaves.

Many Sacramento area homes have pools that have a tropical-style landscape.  'Legging up' bamboo in a tropical landscape offers the lush green upper foliage (for privacy) while showing off the beauty of the culms, giving that true 'jungle feel' to any yard.

Bamboo varieties that lend well to 'legging up' include

Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' (pictured above)
Bambusa oldhamii 'Giant Clumping Timber Bamboo'
Bambusa ventricosa 'Buddha's Belly Bamboo'


Most of the Phylostachys species; 30 feet and taller (includes 'Black Bamboo' and Phylostachys bambusoides 'Castillon')

'Legging up' is an easy pruning technique that lends well to Asian-style and tropical-style gardens.  It's good for the plants and shows off the beauty of the culms that would naturally be covered in foliage if untouched (like a bush).  It's also a great way to keep your bamboo plant healthy as well.  Give it a try and you'll be happy with the results.

Mad Man Bamboo
(916) 300-6335
Mad Man Bamboo on Facebook
Twitter: @madmanbamboo
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