Rhizome pruning

Spectabilis rhizomes under a pavement block. Just in time.

Spectabilis rhizomes under a pavement block. Just in time.

Unnecessary workout?

I decided not to use rhizome barrier on my bamboos and rather risk breaking my back twice a year doing some rhizome pruning. So far, it was not an issue and bamboos failed to take over the garden. So far. This year, weather was ideal for bamboos to grow rapidly above and under the soil level which made regular maintenance a bit more labor intensive.

Summer rhizome removal

Slug removal service helped me eliminate the pest I uncovered.

Slug removal service helped me eliminate the pest I uncovered.

Summer started later than usual and temperatures were not as high as they could +have been. After the first part of our growing season, I decided to remove the escaping runners and make it easier to complete the cleen-up in the fall. The first time I dug around my bamboos this year, there were only short rhizome escapees, mostly on Phyllosttachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ and Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling. Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ had runners all over the place, but they rarely go deep enough to cause a problem. To fight the Shiroshima I dug a trench around it, which saved me from autumn pruning. I just snapped the runners as they emerged in the trench. All runners were easy to remove because they didn’t get established yet and had only minimal amount of roots. The issue, however, was the dry clay called soil and heat during the day.

The pruning fiesta

Massive rhizome growth!

Massive rhizome growth!

As the weather started to cool down significantly, I started the final rhizome cleen-up this season. Soil is now moist, not overly wet and easy to work with. The rhizomes and roots, however, are not. P. aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ was as good as it gets. Almost no spread into unwanted direction into the lawn. I was done with it in no-time. Then it was time to make sure I check on my overly aggressive P. pubescens seedling. The first swing I made with the pickaxe had informed me about what lies below the soil. In only a couple of months, relatively small bamboo managed to grow numerous runners in all directions. They were already well rooted and branched out, which made them hard to get out of the soil. Luckily the soil was moist enough, if it would be just a bit drier, I would not have been done yet – yet, my back would be.
I wanted to make a bunch of new bamboo plants this year and plant the rhizome divisions. When I saw how many there are, I just started tossing them away. Divisions will have to wait for a day when I feel less lazy. Maybe next fall.

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How not to get scammed when buying seeds online

Buying seeds online

Why I even bother buying seeds online? The main reason is, there are not so many exotic seeds to be found in shops around here. Prices can be much, much lower online and there’s always a chance you find something rare you’d like to start growing. I have bought quite a lot of seeds and I usually got what I ordered. When I tried buying carnivore plant’s seeds online using both Aliexpress and eBay, I almost got scammed. I received seeds of some local weeds from China instead of Venus Flytrap (Dionaea) and Pitcher plants (Nepenthes). Luckily I was able to make a complaint and they resolved in my favor. If I would not know how the real seeds look like, I would be growing weeds for a while, before even noticing. Usually scammers have good rating and you can’t always see negative feedback that would raise an alarm.

Things to avoid

1. If plants look too good to be true, they are usually fake. Avoid at all costs!
2. Rare, hard to get seeds are almost never cheap – even online! Keep away from extremely cheap seeds, they are either fake or way too old to sprout.
3. Large amount of seeds is often an indicator that something isn’t right. Bulk amounts of cheap seeds usually means you’ll get weed seeds.
4. Seeds of sterile plants (hybrids) or plants that can’t be (easily) propagated using seeds (Orchids for example)
5. Sellers that has seeds from any of the above in their shop. Usually the most obvious seeds are not the only seeds that are fake. Try to ignore these sellers.

What you can do before the purchase

Research! Make sure you know how the seeds look like, so you can be sure you got the right seeds when you get them.
Ask seller about the seeds origin or ask if you suspect something is wrong. If the seller ignores your question – avoid.
Think two times before you click ‘Buy’. Checking more than one seller usually helps and you easily see sellers that stand out with strangely low price and obviously fake plants.
Read other buyer’s reviews. Sometimes it’s pain in the rear, because there are usually tons of good reviews of buyers that were ecstatic when they got the seeds.

If you do get scammed …

You’ve been ripped off, now what? If you are sure you received fake seeds, complain to the seller and start the complaint process in the online store. I have been cheated that way several times and usually got the money back, because the seeds were obviously fake.
Try to write an item review and warn other potential buyers about the issue.

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Variegated Phylostachys arcana seedlings – Summer 2018 update

Second seedling looks extremely well at this point, and the best part of the year is still in front of it

Second seedling looks extremely well at this point, and the best part of the year is still in front of it

Sunburn recovery

As I’ve mentioned recently, two heavily variegated seedlings are prone to sunburn damage. To correct the issue, I decided to plant some fast growing plants in front of one of the seedlings. As bamboo started branching out, the canopy started shading itself, which further helped the seedlings. Both seedlings started looking much better when days started getting shorter in late July. After wet and rainy start of the summer – well, not that spring would be any better, temperatures rose well above 30°C. Both bamboos resisted the heat and wind pretty well. Way better than strong sun exposure in late spring and early summer. There was some leaf curling, but not nearly as much as I’d expect. Actually, they didn’t curl as much as a non-variegated seedling next to them.

Culms coloring up

Regular green seedlings have dark green colored culms that turn dark brown if exposed to intense light. Variegated seedlings have much less green and can be almost completely yellow with some green striping. Culm variegation occurred on both seedlings. Most of the culms that were at least a bit exposed to sun started tanning up and turned out quite nice. The seedling with darker culms had more green variegation and turned light brown. The first seedling has much paler culms that are almost completely yellow. There are some stripes involved, but they are hard to spot at the moment – the shoots were way smaller and the variegation much paler.

Pale culm of the first variegated seedling

Pale culm of the first variegated seedling

Red coloration on yellow culms.

Red coloration on yellow culms.

Culm coloration with sun tanning

Culm coloration with sun tanning

Brown tanned culm of the second seedling

Brown tanned culm of the second seedling

Rhizomes

I haven’t been digging dirt around the seedlings, but there is some serious rhizome activity below the soil level. I have seen them pushing the soil up and dolphining. Soil is also cracking due to underground bamboo growth. None of the highly variegated seedlings started shooting for the second time in the season (August 1st). The third seedling that is also variegated, but has dark green appearance, compared to yellow colored first two seedlings, started putting out second round of shoots when the rhizomes got above the soil level. All of them were nicely variegated.

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Variegated seedling’s sensitivity to full sun

Scorching sun

At first,leaves were not damaged at all.

At first,leaves were not damaged at all.

Shooting season is over and all the new shoots are now fully grown and branched out. At first, there was no issues related to direct sun exposure. I suspect the problem started when the sun position got high enough and its strength became harmful for delicate plants. I observed first signs of leaf damage as soon as the shoots started branching out. Then damage became more and more evident and even the newest leaves immediately got damage, some even before unfolding. Spraying the bamboo with insecticide and fungicide didn’t help much. Leaves were a bit healthier, but that could be just because the leaves started getting less variegated at the same time, changing from completely yellow to yellow with green stripes. Sun is also starting to lose some of it’s strength as days are getting shorter.

Shaded leaves

Shaded parts of bamboo are not affected

Shaded parts of bamboo are not affected

At first I wasn’t sure about the exact reason, because I also found spider mites on both variegated bamboos. With time, issue became more and more apparent. The shaded leaves that were hidden inside the bamboo clump became hard to miss- they remained healthy and mostly undamaged. Sadly, both bamboos are placed in full sun which makes them suffer leaf damage during most of the summer. Leaves in the fall should be healthy again. Last year, bamboos were much shorter and received a lot of shade from plants growing around them, this year, they became too tall for that and I’ll be able to see when they stop getting sunburns. The first leaves are also the most delicate. Luckily, most of the leaves that are damaged would fall off eventually before the end of the summer when the plants fully leaf-out.

Fully exposed leaves are damaged the most

Fully exposed leaves are damaged the most

Second seedling also has a lot of full sun related damage

Second seedling also has a lot of full sun related damage

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

changing their location

In a year or two, I’ll try to find them a more protected location with more shade. I might even divide them for the first time and try them in “different depths of shade”. Currently, finding them free space is a problem, which I hope I can resolve.

… An update a couple of weeks later…

In just a few weeks, the spot of one seedling got shaded and I successfully removed the mites as well. At the same time, laves started getting more green, just like expected. The shitty humid weather held on during most of early summer and in mid July, seedlings looked better. They started growing branches and started to look much, much better.

Seedling recovered quite well

Seedling recovered quite well

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