Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili

Trinidad moruga chili
Trinidad moruga chili
Trinidad moruga scorpion (Capsicum chinense) is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. I’m not sure if I want to taste it, but it’s nice to have such a powerful plant around.
It originates from Trinidad and Tobago. In warm places without freezing temperatures during the winter, it can grow as perennial, but even the lightest frost can completely kill it, so it’s usually acting as an annual plant in temperate climate. Perhaps I’ll try to place it into large pot during autumn and winter and try to keep it alive during the cold part of the year.

Three weeks old seedling

Eucalyptus

Emerging Eucalyptus gunii seedling
Emerging Eucalyptus gunii seedling











One week old Eucalyptus gunii seedling
One week old Eucalyptus gunii seedling

I decided to try growing Eucalyptus gunii and Eucalyptus globulus. The first is supposed to be hardy enough to survive our winters and will eventually go out. Eucalyptus globulus gets damaged when exposed to even moderate frost which makes it indoor plant.

More to come as this little project evolves..

fungosa-shoot14

Bamboo shoots

Each spring or early summer, bamboos start shooting. It’s favourite time of the year for most of Bamboo growers, that anticipate the new season with curiosity.

Many bamboo varieties  look similar if not almost identical when they are mature, but most of them, if not all, have unique shoots. To successfully identify a bamboo, we usually depend on unique characteristics – mature shoot appearance offers just that.

I’m growing several different bamboos and I decided to take shoot photos and try to capture their uniqueness.

Borinda fungosa shoot
Newly emerged Borinda fungosa shoot

Borinda fungosa is the first bamboo I owned. I had grown it from seed in 2011.

Shoots are a bit different from other bamboos, because of extremely large culm sheaths of Borinda genus. As they emerge, they seem completely hollow. After a while, they start to look more like other bamboos, when stem starts elongating and fills the empty space inside the shoot.

Borinda is a late shooter, it usually shoots around mid May. It usually (always so far) sets another round of shoots around September which get killed during the winter.

Shiroshima shoot
Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’

Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ is thought to be a natural hybrid between Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henonis’ and Sasa veitchii. It’s variegation and large leaves make it look spectacular.

Shoots often appear completely pink or white and then, after they get exposed to light, turn into light green, with cream white stripes and pink tanned sheath blades.

Young shoot just starting to take off!
Fargesia Murieale shoot

Fargesia Murieale is clumping bamboo that shoots early. Usually first shoots emerge in early to mid March.

Dense hair on the shoot offer good protection from pest that wakes up early in the spring, like slugs for example.

 

 

 

Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’

Basic information:
Height: 10 m
Culm diameter: 5 cm
Hardiness: -24 °C
Characteristics: very cold hardy, vigorous, running bamboo,
culms are bright yellow with green sulcus
young culms turn red when exposed to sun
they frequently genuflect, making zig-zag pattern at the base of the culm
some of the leaves have white stripe

It’s one of most cold-hardy bamboos that grows to decent size and can be extremely vigorous, especially in warmer climates.

Genuflection on Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'
Genuflection on Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’
Sun exposed culms become red.
Sun exposed culms become red.
On lower internodes genuflection is not rare
On lower internodes genuflection is not rare

Genuflection
Genuflection

3 years old bamboo
3 years old bamboo

Spring 2014

With warm weather, dormancy ended and new growth cycle started.

arundo-donax-variegataI stored weak Arundo donax Variegata divisions from last year in heated place without enough light. They survived, but not without casualties. Plants ended up even weaker and hopefully they will recover when I finally plant them outside. I learned my lesson to never store Arundo donax inside during the winter again. Most of the unvariegated clones I got by layering ended badly. Only two plants remain alive above ground, many died below the soil level as well. Heat, low light level and wet soil with minimal oxygen capacity did their worst. I left one clone outside and it froze and thawed continuously until spring, now it’s also waking up. It may end up the best.
One variegated shoot already decided it’s about time to break free.

Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.
Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.

Borinda fungosa seedling that got fried when temperatures dropped to around -10°C is regenerating. First branch buds are pale green, some of them almost white. Pale leaves that are starting to form have that distinctive pinkish tan like many other variegated bamboos. It doesn’t seem to be variegated though, no true leaves are fully formed yet.
Branches on last year's autumn shoot.
Branches on last year’s autumn shoot.
With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.
With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.

 
 

Culm color as seen using camera's flash light.
Culm color as seen using camera’s flash light.
With warm sunny weather, culms that were mature enough – all except the last autumn shoots, became dark brown. The more sun the culm receives, darker it becomes. It seems that after a while with some more sun exposure, dark brown color becomes almost red. Autumn shoots remained green despite growing in identical conditions. Without leaves there’s a lot of light and it will be interesting to see if culm color can get even more intense.

 

After prolonged sun exposure, even the newest shoots began to turn color from green to shiny dark brown. Culms get their specific color and they have a glossy look, just as they were polished. Young culms with wax coating take longer to change color. Culms with old, partly degraded remains of culm sheaths, can be totally brown, but beneath the straw colored sheath remnants, culms are green. During the spring, there are almost no leaves on fungosa, which means there’s a lot of light.

Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo
Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo

Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa
Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa

Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima's elongated buds.
Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima’s elongated buds.
Other bamboos also started to grow and will most likely start shooting as well. Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ is already growing new branches and will soon replace leaves that got mildly fried by winter cold.

One of the last plants that started growing was cold hardy Hibiscus Hibiscus moscheutos. It was started from seed year ago and I can only speculate if it’s label was actually correct. Color of it’s flowers also remains a mystery.

Cold

Cold weather ends the growing season sooner or later, this year it was rather soon. With no snow insulation, cold can induce more damage that with thick layer of snow insulation. This year, despite all the cold, we are yet to see the first snow.

Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.
Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.

Borinda fungosa seedling was holding on very well down to -5°C. Soon night temperature dropped down to -7°C and many of the leaves got damaged. Leaves that remained undamaged, surprisingly remained unfolded even during sunny and windy weather. It did loose all the shoots from this autumn, as it did last winter, but this time, some of them remained tall, only loosing their fragile top. Perhaps in the spring, they will begin the branching process. Cold weather persisted for around two weeks, daily highs were slightly above or below freezing, it was sunny and windy most of the time. Morning low temperatures were between -5°C and -8°C. This is it’s second winter outside, I’ll see how it resists cold. Last year when it was covered in thick layer of snow most of the winter, it managed to keep most of the leaves intact.fungosa winter damage
fungosa damaged by cold Well, the problem with all that snow insulation was weight. Heavy wet snow broke all the taller culms and only a couple of old tiny ones remained. Dead shoots that grew in late fall were not all dead, one of them managed to grow branches around the lowest node, that was buried under thick layer of mulch.
After almost a month of very cold weather, with fog persisting through most of the day, with day temperature slightly below freezing, leafs managed to unfold, showing the damage. It looks like most, if not all, leaves were completely killed or badly damaged. Culms and branches are showing their dark brown color and they seem to be alive even after prolonged period of cold weather. Hopefully in 4 months we’ll get some warm weather for it to recover.

 

Shiroshima with it's beautiful  varieagated leaves remains almost intact.
Shiroshima with it’s beautiful varieagated leaves remains almost intact.
Hibanobambusa tranquilans ‘Shiroshima’ is looking hardy enough to survive this kind of cold dry weather without hassle. There’s no evident damage, not even on several late fall whip shoots. Whips stopped growing with arrival of cold weather, lower nodes actually hardened enough to drop off culm sheathes, while their tops remained fresh and stopped growing completely. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they resume in the spring. With temperatures close to freezing, white variegation on the leaves turned into bright yellow color, making bamboo look even better.

 
 

Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.
Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.

Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling that escaped it’s pot is showing moderate leaf damage. It’s evident, that there’s almost no damage on the escaped part of bamboo that ran out of the pot two seasons ago. Leaves that were pale during the summer and showed some kind of stress, wilted after first heavy frost. Dark green leaves mostly remained undamaged, but they do tend to wilt when exposed
Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.
Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.
to sun. Wilting is normal, because soil already got frozen on top and bamboo have to save water inside it’s leaves.
The part that escaped managed to put out numerous runners and a couple of shoots that barely poked out through the mulch. They are most likely whip shoots that missed their growing season. So far they haven’t got soft and are most likely alive, waiting to resume in the spring. Last year, pot ended up as home of mice family that stayed there throughout the winter. They didn’t do much damage, but there were holes all around the pot and I’m sure there was some root damage. Well, better mice than voles! They can devastate whole bamboo clumps.
 
 
Umbrella palm seedlings, planted around the garden and inside the pond didn’t take the cold well. First hard frost killed everything above the soil/water level, and most likely, rhizomes as well. We’ll see if it restarts in the spring, if not, I still have one large seedling kept safely inside.
At first dark green damaged leaves turned into straw color. They’ve kept their appearance as they would still be alive. Dry clumps of umbrella papyrus are looking quite good. I’m going to keep them for a while, if rain or snow doesn’t make them look ugly that is.
Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It's not ugly just yet, though.
Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It’s not ugly just yet, though.

It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I'm keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.
It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I’m keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.

Arundo donax

On my trip to Tunisia, I took stem of relatively thin but mature Arundo donax plant. I didn’t have high expectations for it to survive, but I kept it. When I got back, I buried it into damp peat moss / pine bark mix and soon first shoots emerged.

shoots appear from nodes of layered culm.
shoots appear from nodes of layered culm.
After a couple of weeks, small shoot emerged
After a couple of weeks, small shoot emerged

Almost every node started growing shoot in only a couple of weeks. At first they grew slowly and got damaged by full sun exposure. At first there were no roots around the newly grown shoots, which means that small plants received all their water and nutrients from old stem. At one point leaves started to look healthier and totally immune to strong sun exposure as long as they received enough water. It didn’t take long before they started multiplying. Each of the initial shoots started growing at least one if not two additional shoots around it. Second shoots soon got ticker and taller than their predecessors and started growing even larger shoots. Almost every day at least one shoot appeared and newer stems grew thicker and taller.

Arundo donax shoots from culm layering
Arundo donax shoots from culm layering
Arundo donax shoots
Arundo donax shoots

Three months old Arundo.
Three months old Arundo.

In their third month, weather cooled off and summer temperatures were gone. Due to large amounts of rain, they thrived. Initial shoots became droopy and start falling in all directions, newer, thicker stems remained upright, until their leaves became too heavy for thin stem to support. Even with regular rain, peat moss based soil never remained saturated with water.

Despite low temperatures, some of transplanted plants started shooting.
Despite low temperatures, some of transplanted plants started shooting.

In short time, container became too crowded and completely root bound. There was almost no free soil remaining without plenty of white roots from all of the plants that came out of original layerd culm, so I had to tear off each of the plants and separate them from the large root mass. They all stopped growing after the transplantation, so they could recover their root system. Shortly after they got to their individual pots, weather cooled off and everything went to standby mode. Despite relative cold, some of the plants started shooting around a month after getting up-potted. New shoots were thicker than previous ones by far, which means they liked their new environment.
First year planted outside.
First year planted outside.

Papyrus 'heads'

Cyperus Papyrus

A lot of natural light can make them grow really fast
A lot of natural light can make them grow really fast

Cyperus Papyrus started germinating
Cyperus Papyrus started germinating

Basic information:
Height: 4 to 5 m
Hardiness: Can not handle freezing
Characteristics: Cold sensitive, vigorous, loves boggy soil or even standing water, doesn’t like soil to dry out

After unsuccessful purchase when I received Umbrella palm instead of Cyperus papyrus, I tried buying another pack of seeds from different seller. Seeds germinated with high germination rate in only a couple of days. Small fragile plants were transplanted into larger pots, because summer was already there and I wanted them to grow as much as possible.

It's unbelievable, how fast it can grow.
It’s unbelievable, how fast it can grow.

In around two weeks, plant started to really take off! Each day, seedling grew larger and larger. By the time when first tillers appeared, it became evident that it’s really the large version of Papyrus and not the ‘umbrella plant’.
Unlike many other seedlings, it thrived in full sun from the beginning. At first I planed to protect it from scorching sun that can easily kill most of other plant’s seedlings, but since the plant originates from Egypt, I ditched the idea and keep it unprotected.
I found out that they don’t like too much fertilizing, especially when young. Even moderate amount of fertilizer resulted in plant yellowing and stunted growth. Transplanting it into peat moss solved the problem immediately.
Extremely fast growth continued during the hottest months of the summer and then they slowly stopped developing when it cooled off.
 

By the mid September, Papyrus started to look really exotic with nice looking ‘feather dusters’ emerging. Despite cold, overcast weather with regular rain intervals, seedling managed to use all the standing water inside the bucket within a day or two. With roots that were not well established, water level remained the same for days even when temperatures were high and there was a lot of sunshine – sadly, this year seedling missed most of the summer. With some luck, if Papyrus manages to overwinter successfully, it will start from the beginning and rise a couple of meters high.

Papyrus 'heads'
Papyrus ‘heads’
Papyrus seedling in September
Papyrus seedling in September

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Flowering Papyrus King Tut
Flowering Papyrus King Tut

In it’s second year, in late spring it began to grow faster again and started to show signs of first flowers.
In early summer, first flowers emerged
In early summer, first flowers emerged

Cyperus papyrus on the right and Cyperus alternifolius on the bottom left part of the photo. Swamp is getting crowded.
Cyperus papyrus and Cyperus alternifolius. Swamp is getting quite crowded.