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Bamboo is now one of the most popular garden plants in Germany. Whether as a solitaire, hedge or ground cover, the different varieties allow numerous design options. Bamboo is considered easy to care for, but you should cut it regularly so that it grows lush and dense. Instructions for the most common types can be found here.

Bamboo Varieties

Botanically, bamboo is not a tree, because the subfamily Bambusoideae (bamboo) belongs to the sweet grass family (Poaceae). The 1,000 to 1,500 species of bamboo are native to every continent except Europe and Antarctica.

The following varieties are widespread in this country:

  • Flat tube bamboo (Phyllostachys) as a solitary plant
  • Umbrella bamboo (Fargesia) for hedges
  • Dwarf bamboo (Pleiobastus pymaeus) as ground cover
Fargesia nitida, umbrella bamboo, bamboo

To cut

There are various reasons for cutting garden plants:

  • more compact and dense growth
  • too little space
  • plant too big
  • Plant begins to wither
  • lack of light
  • rejuvenation
  • illness or injury
  • shape

Depending on the goal of the cut, a general distinction is made:

  • care cut
  • taper cut
  • hedge trimming
  • care cut

In the care cut, a distinction is made between a correction cut and a main cut.

correction cut

The corrective cut is carried out before the bamboo begins to sprout again. Depending on the weather, this is in March or April.

The aim of the first correction cut is:

  • repairing winter damage
  • the promotion of new growth

The first corrective cut is easy to make and doesn't really need much guidance. It is important that you have the growth behavior of the plant in mind, because bamboo stalks do not grow every year. This means that the individual culms reach their final height within a growing season. If a stalk is shortened, it no longer grows back in height. Despite this growth behavior, you do not need to be too careful when pruning, because it encourages new growth, and the plant grows more luxuriantly as more light comes into the interior of the plant.

main cut

The main pruning takes place when the bamboo has completely re-sprout, i.e. has new leaves throughout and the side branches are fully unfolded.

Fargesia murielae, umbrella bamboo, Muriel bamboo

The aim of the main cut is:

  • limiting growth
  • Removal of unincorporated side branches

Tip: Unsightly leaves can be trimmed off throughout the summer.

taper cut

Garden bamboos can live for a good ten years. Since the plants tend to bare, a rejuvenation cut should be carried out so that the garden bamboo continues to thrive. Additionally, a rejuvenating pruning allows more light to get inside the plant, resulting in more lush growth. The best time for the rejuvenation pruning is autumn, but it can also be carried out in spring before the new shoots, combined with the corrective pruning.

During the so-called thinning out:

  • weak and old stems cut off just above the ground
  • cut off dry and thin culms just above the ground

Tip: When in doubt, it is better to cut off more stalks than too few.

Taper cut at height

In principle, a rejuvenation cut can be carried out in height. However, you should bear in mind that the individual culms will no longer increase in height, but will become bushier. This can result in the typical appearance of the plant changing. Therefore, you should not shorten tall stalks, but remove them completely.

Rejuvenation cut as a radical cut

With very old bamboos, you can also shorten all stalks by a third to rejuvenate them.


A complete pruning of garden bamboos should usually be carried out every four to five years. The best time for this is before the new shoots in the spring. With this radical cut, the cut is made up to a maximum of 20 centimeters above the ground.

Use pruning shears to cut trees

Tip: Before pruning completely, find out how often your bamboo variety should be pruned.

hedge trimming

If the bamboo hedge serves as a privacy screen, you should think about the growth behavior of the plants as far as the height of the hedge is concerned, because after all the hedge should have a certain height. If the width of the hedge has to be reduced, then the cut is carried out as with other garden hedges. The laterally protruding shoots are simply cut to a uniform length. The best time to cut the bamboo hedge is in late autumn.

Tip: In colder regions, it is advisable to cut the bamboo hedge in spring before new growth.

Step cut instructions

In order for the bamboo hedge to keep its tidy appearance, a step cut is often used.

Proceed according to the following instructions:

  • Shorten the stalks in the middle of the hedge to the desired height
  • Cut the stalks shorter at the edges of the hedge

So that the step cut is maintained in the following years, the regrowing stalks must be shortened to the appropriate height.

Section after frost damage

Although bamboo survives the German winter well, very low temperatures can cause problems and leaves and stalks turn brown. In this case, you should first be patient, keep calm and wait until June to cut. Then you can see which parts of the plant have recovered, i.e. have sprouted green leaves. If areas of the plant remain brown, do not remove them until August as they still contain nutrients.

The plant has usually suffered fatal frost damage when no green leaves can be seen in June. Then you can cut the entire plant down to ground level.



Different tools are used to ensure that the respective cut succeeds. However, all knives and scissors must be sharp and clean. The sharpness allows for a smooth cut and the cleanliness prevents diseases and pests from being transmitted via the cutting tool.

Tip: If you have not used a cleaned cutting tool for a long time, you should definitely clean it before cutting.

Rose or secateurs

These scissors are suitable for cutting side branches or thin stalks.

Hedge shears or pruning shears

These tools are used for thick stalks and hedges.


For example, a sharp knife can be used to step cut a bamboo hedge.

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