I was always impressed by how fast and how tall bamboo can grow. Sometimes you can almost see it grow and if you check it twice in the same day, the difference can be quite evident. To get a better picture about the growth speed of my Moso seedling, I decided to monitor its growth. I’ll write down the measurments and any other gathered information in this post.
April 27. 2020
April 28. 2020
April 29. 2020
April 30. 2020
May 1. 2020
May 2. 2020
May 3. 2020
May 4. 2020
May 5. 2020
May 6. 2020
May 7. 2020
May 8. 2020
May 9. 2020
May 10. 2020
May 11. 2020
May 12. 2020
May 13. 2020
May 14. 2020
May 15. 2020
May 16. 2020
May 17. 2020
May 18. 2020
May 19. 2020
May 20. 2020
…it grows – fast!
It was quite easy to check the length of the shoot at first but as soon as it overgrew me, things got complicated. I could have used a ladder and make a couple more measurements, but I knew soon it wouldn’t be enough, so I started using a taller bamboo pole to measure growing shoot. That solution worked sufficiently, but at one point, right before branching, bamboo started bending which made it nearly impossible to check its height. That was when I stopped measuring.
Adding weather into equation
When I got all the measurement results, I decided to check the meteorological data, calculate mean daily temperature (which includes both, day and night temperatures) and precipitation. The main idea was if I can find any correlation between weather and growth speed.
Mean daily temperature ranged from around 10°C to a bit above 18°C. The lowest temperature was detected on May 12th. On that day, and the morning of May 13th, temperature dropped to around 5°C. Strong cold front brought a decent amount of rain as well, which might have cooled down the soil a bit and considerably slowed down the growth, which almost stopped the following day (May 13. 2020 ).
At first relatively small shoot start to accelerate its growth progressively, when a bunch of internodes start to elongate simultaneously. In optimal conditions, graph would likely have a nice curve with its peak right before branching out and then rapid decline in growth speed. In time of drought, beneficial factor would likely be precipitation, in this case, it was the temperature that regulated the speed of bamboo culm elongation. If we consider that height measure gives us information about growth during previous day, It becomes clear that one day lag after a drastic cooldown or warm-up is logical. Exactly that happened on May 12th. I will get some more information this year to confirm the temperature / growth speed correlation.
It’s been a while since I’ve germinated Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seeds and it seems they are finally starting to get a more mature form. This year, most of the bamboos refused to put out a lot of shoots. Only small number of shoots emerged and with an exception of P. pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling, there was hardly any upsize. Despite similar sized shoots, new shoots exhibit more pronounced details regarding culm coloration. When I plant the seedlings out somewhere into an open field where their space is not that limited, they will mature further much faster.
The seedling with heavily variegated leaves did not shoot at all and it ended up getting quite weak due to drought. I need to move it from its raised bed ASAP. Its culms are now getting 2 years old and they all turned bright yellow. The largest one is pencil thick though as it’s suffering the most. There were many older culms that dried out completely this season. The raised bed ended up a bad idea. It’s draining well and it doesn’t hold enough moisture. Despite regular watering, bamboo suffered from severe drought during hot summer weather. Most of the time leaves were wilted and it showed signs of stress.
The second seedling has grown a couple of shoots, roughly the same size as last year. From all 3 variegated seedlings, this one is showing the most interesting culm coloration. Shoots have now turned completely yellow with dark green sulcus and with more sporadic dark green striping pattern around the culm. Lower internodes without the sulcus only have the sporadic stripes.
The least variegated seedling has grown the most. It had escaped the raised bed and pushed a few larger shoots outside. Its culms are the least variegated as well. They appear green and only have lighter green striping pattern, sulcus color is also not expressed. Leaves are almost completely dark green color with only light striping.
This year’s hot and dry weather promoted the spread of bamboo mites. This growing season my P. arcana seedlings got hit the most. Some leaves are completely ruined by heavy mite infestation. I refused any kind of chemical control so far, but it looks like I’ll have to consider spraying some sort of miticide to reduce their numbers. Photosynthesis of variegated leaves that are already affected by reduced photosynthetic activity, decreased even further.
Acanthostachys strobilacea is a tropical plant from the bromeliads family that natively grows in south America. In nature it grows as an epiphyte like other bromeliads. It has a drooping look which makes it suitable for hanging baskets or positions on the shelves. It needs quite a lot of light and tolerates drought. The best option to kill it is by overwatering. Especially during the winter when it grows much slower. Its colorful inflorescent resemble tiny pineapple.
When the flower is pollinated (it can be self pollinated), small fruits start to develop. As the inflorescent loses vivid color and turns dark brown, fruits are most likely ripe and seeds fully developed. At the beginning, they contain a lot of moisture and can eventually dry out. The fruit contains sticky substance and the seeds tend to stick to your fingers when you squeeze them out of the fruit. You can easily wash them, or use water to dilute the gluey substance when collecting the seeds. The seeds and the fruits have a really pleasant fragrance, I’m not sure about the flavor though. I’m not keen on experimenting with possibly poisonous fruit. 🙂
Sowing the seeds
Like most of the tropical and subtropical plants, you should sow the seeds as soon as you collect them. They don’t need dormancy of any kind and lose viability quickly. I started germinating the seeds immediately. The seeds sprouted in only one week with extremely high germination rate. Acanthostachys strobilacea needs very porous and easily draining substrate, just as any other Bromeliaceae epiphytes. To make the appropriate substrate, I mixed peat, substantial amount of perlite and a bit of compost, compacted the mix lightly and placed the seeds on top. I covered the seeds with a millimeter of silica sand to keep the seeds evenly moist. I misted the surface daily just to make sure the top layer didn’t dry out.
It only took a week for the seeds to start germinating. The seeds are decent sized, so they should start growing vigorously from the start. Since the germination rate was high, they were starting off already a bit congested. When the seedlings get large enough to be picked up using your fingers, at 3 or 4 leaf stage, it’s easy to separate them and plant them individually into easy draining substrate. Since bromeliads are susceptible to root rot if water doesn’t drain well enough, they should be planted into smaller sized pots first and gradually up-potted. Terra-cotta pots are much safer option than plastic containers.
I received some bamboo seeds from fredgpops (another bamboo enthusiast from Bambooweb) last October and less than a week later, one of them sprouted. The seedling I got, was an offspring of Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’ bamboo. Sadly none of the regular nigra or Chusquea gigantea had germinated, I hope I can try again next year.
The seeds I received were mostly empty, underdeveloped or damaged. I think that hungry birds already took care of them, before the seeds were collected. I expected at least some germination from the remaining seeds, but they eventually started rotting and perished. Some of the damage and poor germination could be the result of slow transport from The US to Slovenia. One of the seeds, however, sprouted very fast and started growing vigorously from the early beginning. It doesn’t have any leaf coloration or other apparent characteristics that would make it look special.
Problem with mites
When the seedling was a couple of months old, I made a mistake and brought in some mite infected cuttings. Since the plants are somewhat congested under the grow lights, mites started colonizing the area. In only a couple of weeks, they were everywhere. The most hit were my Hibiscus rosa-sinensis seedlings which dropped leaves completely. The infected Nerium oleander cuttings got badly damaged as well. I sprayed the whole area and nearly killed my carnivorous plant collection in the process, but it seems that mites perished in the process.
Slow growth after a couple of shoots
After the mite infection, the seedling stopped shooting every couple of weeks and remained at 4 shoots it had before. As the seedling stopped shooting, I thought that mites caused it to suffer. As I noticed later, it wasn’t even slowing down – not at all. Most if not all Phyllostachys I’ve grown so far, and I’ve grown many, managed to put out numerous shoots at their juvenile stage, before they eventually started running and ceased to produce shoots. At that point, when the seedlings started running, they only produced whip shoots from the exposed rhizomes. They just wait for the spring to arrive to start their regular shooting cycle.
As I poked around the pot when I watered the seedling, roughly 3 months after germination, I noticed the first runner escaping far away from the initial clump on the edge of the pot. Since bamboo seedlings usually starts running at least a year after sowing, it came as a surprise – yet, I’ve seen the same thing happen with my Phyllostachys arcana seedlings before. As it seems, grow lights I use make a great difference and can really speed-up seedling’s development. Around a month later, less than 4 months old juvenile already colonized the pot with rhizomes and started to deform its plastic nursery pot.
Another bamboo in my collection
From the point when bamboo starts actively running, its growth usually gets exponential. Bamboo effectively uses all the resources it can lay its roots on and if it feels comfortable enough in the given climate, starts rapid development towards the mature stage. If I find proper location with enough space and nutrients, I’m sure I can expect first 1cm+ diameter culms in less than 2 years. From that point everything goes even faster.
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