Starting bamboo seeds again

After a several years, I’ve felt an urge to start bamboo seeds again. This time, I purchased cheap bamboo seeds from Aliexpress.

Buying fakes

Sprouting bamboo grain.

I’ve ordered a bunch of different seeds and among them two bamboos – Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ and Phyllostachys aureosulcata. Since I know that Phyllostachys aureosulcata is not flowering at the moment and the seeds are named falsely, I decided to try growing the seeds and see what I can get. My initial assumption is that all the seeds are regular Moso seeds which are readily available every year.
As I received the seeds, I found out (I suspected that when placing an order) that more than half if not all the seeds were fake – they were physically completely different. At least bamboo seeds were bamboo seeds, not some kind of turf grass.

Lottery

Based on my previous experience with growing bamboo seeds, I’ve had very low expectations. Bamboo seeds lose viability quite fast and when the seeds are not properly stored, germination rate drops heavily. It happened twice with Moso seeds I’ve ordered in the past. Out of hundred of old Moso seeds, I couldn’t even get one seedling.
I thought growing ‘fake’ seeds could be a project, not only because of high uncertainty regarding the bamboo variety the seeds came from, but also the fact that the seeds might have problems with germination. I expected nothing.

It’s alive!

First of the Phyllostachys pubescens seeds sprouted

After two weeks of uncertainty, I noticed that one of the seeds started sprouting. The first one that germinated was labeled as Phyllostachys aureosulcata and it’s very pale at the moment. When compared to the seedlings I’ve grown in the past, these seem to grow somewhat slower. It’s still a bit early to draw any conclusions though. At the moment, there are 2 seedlings from each bag I recieved and I expect more to sprout in the following weeks.

Proper ID…?

A couple of days old bamboo seedling.

If (when) they grow into larger seedlings, the characteristics of bamboo should start showing up. In their second or third year, the fuzzy culms will most likely point out that all the seedlings are from Moso bamboo seeds. It is highly unlikely, but the seeds could be from another Phyllostachys. If that’s the case, the difference should be evident in 6 month or so. Let’s see how it goes.

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Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings – 2019 – Photo gallery

Photos, photos,…

This time, I decided to upload more photos and use less words. I think I wrote practically everything already. There’s nothing new regarding the seedlings, they upsized nicely and now grow as expected.

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Phyllostachys arcana seedlings – shooting season 2019

Early starters

First shoot on variegated seedling
First shoots started to emerge

Like each year since I’m growing the seedlings in their outdoor location, they started shooting before other bamboos. Fargesia Rufa started a week later and Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling woke up 2 weeks after the seedlings.
Winter was mild and bamboos managed to get through it without much damage. Sun during the summer is much bigger threat to the variegated seedlings than winter weather. This year, we’ve experienced dry winter with little precipitation which made most of the bamboos I grow thirsty. Arcana seedlings were hit the most, since they are still growing in their raised beds with good drainage. Despite slight desiccation, seedlings kept the leaves without much visible damage. In early March first shoots started appearing on all but one seedling. By mid March the shoots started showing around all the seedlings. March 13th was their earliest shooting date so far.

Non-variegated seedling started shooting as well.

Nice upsize

Variegated seedlings showed stem variegation last year and I really hoped for a decent upsize, to make the variegation easier to notice. It seemed at first, that culm diameter won’t increase much, except on one seedling that started the first. They are growing many shoots that are around last year’s size and larger. Some should be almost twice the size. I’m sure they will look much better now. Variegated foliage is getting dense and it will finally shade out itself a bit. It needs protection from hot early summer sun, so I’ll try to help it with some additional shading as well.

First variegated seedling upsized quite a bit
First variegated seedling upsized quite a bit

Colorful shoots

Second seedlings shoot
Fast growing bamboo shoot

The shoots are still juvenile and need quite some time to start showing more mature characteristics. They all look arcana-ish, though. They also vary in colour a bit. The yellow culmed seedling has more reddish shoots, compared to all the darker ones. The two other variegated seedlings have darker shoots, but not nearly as dark as the shoots of green non-variegated plant which gets almost black. As the plants grow, the shoots started to turn a bit darker. Last year, the yellow culmed seedling pushed out only yellow shoots with a hint of red, now there’s some green on them as well.

Second seedling's shoots along the runner rhizome
Second seedling’s shoots. Nice upsize in both size and number of shoots.

The waiting game

Third seedling’s shoots

Variegated seedlings are slower to develop and it takes longer for them to mature. Last season, I could only check one of the seedlings for culm variegation, other two were too small to make a valid observation of green striping. This year, shoots on all the seedlings are thick enough and it will be interesting to finally see how they look like. It might be interesting to see if I can save the early set of yellow leaves. Last year sun scorched them before I could make a decent photo, but the bamboos looked fabulous. Sadly not for long.

First seedling upsized. Hopefully culm variegation will get more visible this year
Non-variegated seedling has dark shoots
nice upsize of variegated seedling
Nice upsize of second variegated seedling
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Shooting Calendar Update

Too much data…

As the Bamboo shooting calendar started getting more and more data, it became too large and it got impossible to place the large table online. It was getting harder to find shooting information for individual bamboo so I decided to do something about it before new season starts. I tossed away the data table completely.

Charts instead of tables

To improve readability and get rid of unnecessary data, table got replaced with charts. When I tried combining all the bamboo data into one graph, result was pretty poor – way too much information made the bars too thin. The result was unreadable graph which needed to be further dissected into graphs of individual bamboos.

Small tables are easy to read and hold all the needed information about shooting dates since I started growing bamboo. To make comparison between different bamboos easier, I decided I should introduce an average shooting date. There are some bamboos that skipped spring shooting or shot really, really late – I ignored those years. I did, however, use a shooting date in August in the Borinda fungosa chart. Borinda is a tricky bamboo that likes shooting late in the summer and doesn’t stop until winter.

Comparison of bamboo shooting dates
Comparison of bamboo shooting dates

Better or worse?

The trigger to change the way I run the bamboo shooting calendar was the site layout issue which prevented to load the page correctly. I managed to correct the issue last year, hardly. I also noticed someone gave the “Sucks” grade to the calendar sub-page. I’m not sure about the reason, but it might be the layout issue.
If any of you knows for a better way of making the calendar, which would allow me to add more bamboos and could stay readable after several years, I’m always opened for suggestions.

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