Darkening of the foliage is evident.

Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling’s autumn transformation

Winter is coming

Leaves become much darker in the fall

Leaves become much darker in the fall. On the photo: Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedling 2.

Tonight, we’ve seen snowflakes in the air for the first time this autumn. Before the arrival of winter and bitter below freezing temperatures, bamboos prepare and become hardier which makes them more likely to get through the winter unharmed. With first cold, all Phyllostachys bamboos started shedding some of their leaves to decrease water loss due to transpiration in cooler weather. Leaves also become thicker and coated with waxy protective layer, which also prevents desiccation.  The variegated seedlings had a lot of issues early in the growing season, but came out in excellent shape. They lost most of the damaged leaves from early summer and spring and ended up with new, mostly undamaged leaves. Sadly, some kind of fly destroyed most of the growing tips.

 

color change

Darkening of the foliage is evident.

Darkening of the foliage is evident.

Like expected, based on previous observations, leaves started changing their color in mid summer. First leaves were all completely yellow. Every following leaf got a bit more dark green color in the form of dark green striping. The last leaves that grew just before winter weather kicked in, started to look almost as green as the regular unvariegated seedling form. New leaves are also much less prone to environmental damage and should survive the winter intact. The gradual darkening also appears on the variegated seedling’s culms. It seems that usually green variegation forms on sulcus, but can appear on other sides of the internode as well.

 

Difference between the two seedlings

Very bright yellow culm of the first variegated seedling. It does have some green striping which should become much more evident next season with an upsize

The most apparent difference is the culm color. I wrote about it some time ago and observations only became more evident as the shoots started maturing. The first seedling changed from lime green to bright yellow. There is almost no red tanning, but I expect it to start again in early spring and around shooting.  I’m not certain about the amount of culm variegation yet, since both the seedlings are still in young juvenile form. Based on last year’s progress, I expect them to upsize significantly. It should be interesting to see them develop.

Leaves are very similar on both seedlings and have the same type of progressive darkening. First leaves are all lime green or yellow and gradually start darkening. There seems to be a difference in how dark the leaves finally get, but it might be too early to tell for sure. It seems that the first seedling doesn’t get as green as the second one. It was also a little bit less prone to sun damage, which is quite strange, because it’s leaves were just as pale if not paler.

Second seedling often shows darker green coloration below the nodes

Second seedling often shows darker green coloration below it’s nodes

Second seedling has started with bright green culms and dark green striping. Sun tanning was extremely strong during early spring and it turned almost black on sun exposed shoots. With time it started fading to brown color with a hint of red. The lower parts that were not exposed to sun, changed from bright green to olive green color. Variegation of the culm appears on all sides of the culm, but is usually found as darker green sulcus. A lot of internodes have a dark green coloration below the node, some can extend further down as green striping. It is not as evident as green variegations of yellow culmed bamboos like Phyllostachys aureosulcata, at least not yet. Culm color might change a bit as the culms fully mature. Time will tell how they look like when they get there.

 

Darker green sulcus on yellow-ish olive green culm.

Darker green sulcus on olive green culm.

Variegated seedling in front and regular dark green form of Phyllostachys arcana 'Luteosulcata' seedlings

Variegated seedling in front and regular dark green form of Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings

 

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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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