Starting bamboo seeds again
January 25, 2020
After a several years, I’ve felt an urge to start bamboo seeds again. This time, I purchased cheap bamboo seeds from Aliexpress.
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.
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.
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.
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.
New Batch of Bamboo Seedlings
February 12, 2016
In early winter, I have germinated 10 Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ bamboo seedlings to test germination rate. I stored the rest to start growing them later. To preserve space I decided to germinate the majority in late winter, so that they can be moved outside as soon as possible.
Their time arrived and I placed all the seeds into relatively small pot that should be enough for them to start showing some of their basic characteristics. The best part of growing bamboo seedlings is the fact, that some of them may show extra features like variegation, cold-hardiness, sun tolerance, drought resistance or how vigorous the plant is. Many characteristics are not visible until later, when bamboo gets mature enough, but some can be evident from the very beginning. Some of the seedlings are strong from the beginning, and there are always seedlings, that “complain” about everything and rarely live more than a couple of years. The goal is to find any possible seedling that would end up having any of the genetic treats that would make it special. It’s fairly easy to start the seeds, but eventually they start taking a lot of space and you have to make selections and decide which of the seedlings are worth keeping.
Among albino seedlings that are too degenerated to survive, there are usually some variegated seedling that are healthy enough to survive. They may lack vigour and would have trouble surviving from seed in the wild, but with some help, they can be grown to the point, when they can thrive. Variegation often shows later in plants development and sometimes, even if the seedling shows some signs of variegations early, those features can fade away completely as bamboo gets maturer. That’s why you can’t really tell how special bamboo plant is, unless it’s completely healthy and growing for some time. Based on observation, you can pick good candidates that could eventually become worth growing for whatever reason.
I’ve had some luck during the germination trial and one of the plants appeared with serious issues producing chloroplasts, which results in unnaturally pale and variegated bamboo seedling. Low photosynthesis rate makes it grow much slower, but with some pampering, I was able to keep it alive. With all the remaining seeds (at least ten times more seeds), the number of variegated seedling should be even greater. It was not.
There were many seedlings that started showing some minor striping on their first couple of leaves, but those are usually just temporary and will eventually fade out. They can develop some sort of variegation later, so if they are growing healthy, it’s worth growing them for a while longer. One of the seedlings shows more pronounced white striping and even some kind of leaf deformation. I have yet to see if it’s just deformed and will perish before it’s first shoot, or perhaps it’s just showing first signs of variegation.
One of the seedlings is showing similar variegation to that first seedling from the test round. It has similar striping and also fades from pale green to yellow leaf with green stripes, but it’s much darker in the beginning and it actually shows some stripes that are completely green right after the leaf unfolds. If that doesn’t change, it may become more vigorous and healthy, but greener version of my previous variegated seedling.
There are also other bamboo seedlings that also show signs of variegation, but I intend to wait a while for them to become more evident. I’ll update this post in a week or so.
Growing Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ from seeds
October 27, 2015
I received a pack of fresh Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seeds sent by strike88 from Lesbambous.fr – thank you!
Since I’ve already been growing several bamboos from seeds, I know how fun and rewarding it can be, so I decided to try the first ten seeds as germination test and as the first bunch of new generation of bamboo seedlings. I removed the seed cover and exposed the grains to prevent possible mold infection which was prime cause of my failed Moso seedlings when I first tried growing the bamboo seedlings.
Germination rate of first ten seedlings was very high with 80% success rate. There were no albino seedlings and all the seedlings appeared healthy, except two, that were growing rather slowly and appeared lighter green, one almost yellow. I planted the first seedlings together into quite deep pot made out of empty milk carton, so there might be some nutrient related issue, but as I still remember my Moso growing experience, I don’t think that is the case. Most likely pale color and slow growth is just the result of bad genetics and these two seedlings might be the first ones that will fail. I intend do my best to keep them alive for a while, perhaps they do have a potential.
During fall, winter and most of the spring I usually keep my seedlings inside most of the time. I have really bad natural light conditions, so I have to provide them artificial lights. At the moment they are under 2 cheap 50W Chinese LED lights, one cold and one warm white. I think that I’ll toss the warm one and get another cool white, because I have a feeling it doesn’t do any good to the plants. They grow fast and strong though, so I think they should be good for a while, before they get larger. When they start growing their first shoots, I’ll divide them into separate containers.
The growth rate of young seedlings can almost be compared to Borinda fungosa seedlings – one young P. arcana actually started shooting almost a week earlier than Borinda seedlings, which were by far the fastest growing bamboos I’ve ever grown from seed. Faster shooting could be the result of most likely warmer conditions, because they are being grown in late fall, compared to Borinda, which was grown during the winter, Borinda seedling did grow leaves a bit faster though. Results should be considered with a grain of salt, because growing conditions were not nearly the same.
I’ll continue writing about their development in a couple of weeks, when they hopefully all start growing shoots.
Variegated Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings – Winter 2016/2017
February 2, 2017
First half of winter
In the late January, winter slowly starts fading, nights become shorter and days a bit warmer. We’re half way through winter! Since, I’m overwintering my variegated bamboo seedlings inside, they have no idea about our brutal winter outside. At this point, it seems, two of my Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’ seedlings will gain in size a lot. The first and previously the largest seedling remained alive and still refuses to grow. For now, at least, it’s the smallest of three variegated seedlings. It grew many shoots as soon as I brought them inside and all but a couple of them died off and rotted. It’s getting better, but it lags more and more against it’s younger siblings.
The oldest seedling, which grew quite well during last winter is not doing exceptionally well this winter. In the beginning, it was infested with aphids and it soon started losing even the youngest leaves. I decided to spray all three bamboo seedlings with insecticide to eliminate any possible pest I had brought inside. I also trimmed the seedling considerably, removing all the highly damaged branches, leaves and a couple of dead culms. At that point, it started shooting heavily, but ended up losing most of the new growth.
Eventually it started to look much better. It actually ended up being the only of three seedlings without the strange fungal infection. I have left old culms that were still alive and they soon started branching out. The leaves were miniature, but they showed nice variegation. On a couple of leaves, I could observe another type of variegation. Some leaves were not progressively turning from lime green to yellow-green gradient kind of variegation, instead, the variegation was present from the very beginning, (completely green) dark green stripes on yellow leaf. Like last winter, I have had difficult time preventing leaf tips from drying out. I’m still investigating what actually causes that issue as it sometimes appear on other seedlings as well. I’m almost sure it’s water or nutrient related.
The weakest seedling that somehow recovered after being neglected for almost a year started strong from the very beginning. It merely had one shoot when I brought it inside, but it managed to push out one pretty large shoot. That single but large shoot used the energy from the previous stem, it died off when the shoot leafed out. The second seedling has shown incredible ability to survive and it actually grows much faster than the first seedling. To fight off the fungal infection I mentioned earlier, I regularly sprayed it with Aspirin dissolved in water. It looks like it’s working, the infection of the leaves slowed down considerably. Aspirin triggered another thing – growing branches and shooting. I’ve grown many bamboo seeds by now and I never used Aspirin. I have also never seen a bamboo seedling that would start branching out that much, or in the case of the third seedling – shooting insanely.
The least variegated seedling ‘exploded’ immediately after I brought it inside. It also got infected by the same fungal infection as the second seedling. Fungal disease did not slow it down as it remained vigorous and looked strangely healthy, if I count out the darkening leaves. It produces a lot of green matter, which makes it heavy feeder. It shows signs of nutrient deficiency soon after I stop giving it daily dose of water soluble liquid fertilizer. After treating with Aspirin, it went completely insane, pushing out more than 20 shoots at the same time. At the same time, older shoots branched out on nearly all of their internodes. I can’t tell for sure if it was the salicylic acid that did the magic, but it sure look so.
The infection doesn’t seem to be spreading now, and the seedling looks even healthier. The seedling showed three types (perhaps I could call them stages) of variegation. There are some completely unvariegated green leaves. There are loads of seemingly unvariegated leaves with a stripe on the edge of the leaf blade. Stripe sometimes have gaps of unvariegated leaf tissue which makes the stripes look a bit fuzzy. Some leaves have more pronounced stripes that appear in the middle of the leaf as well as on it’s edge. Lately, I am able to see leaves with same kind of progressive variegation as on the previous two seedlings. Strangely, it only appears on some of the shoots and they then have the same kind of variegation through the whole culm. Perhaps that could show chimeric nature of the seedling?
It’s much darker than other seedling’s variegation, it looks very similar and it also ‘grows’ progressively from more uniform lighter green color. Darker parts get darker while leaf matures and paler stripes get lighter green. These stripes are never (so far) yellow, compared to other seedlings, which makes the leaves look healthier.
I am not sure if these variegations will change with time, if one of them will become dominant or just fade out eventually.