Borinda fungosa winter damage 2016/2017

This winter was quite brutal. Temperatures did not plunge lower than normal, but it got cold enough for the soil to completely freeze down to 0.5m and even deeper. With no snow cover to protect the delicate Borinda leaves, it stood little chance to survive the winter.

The cause

Top killed Borinda fungosa

Top killed Borinda fungosa

During early winter, there was no visible damage on any of my bamboos, even Borinda fungosa (gaolinensis?) fared much better than I expected. But then came a period when we received no snow, only freezing temperatures that remained below freezing even during the day. Combined with cold north eastern winds, soil cooled off considerably and it froze much deeper than usual. It remained frozen for quite some time, even when temperatures rose above freezing.

The damage

When temperatures got back to normal and after some “warm” rain, leaves lost their green color and it became evident that bamboo ended up completely top killed. Culms were all noticeably bleached, green culms had the darker green, somewhat watery appearance. At that point, I was sorry I didn’t tarp the bamboo and try my best to protect it. It all seems now, that no protection could have save it this winter – the weather was just too much for a marginal bamboo like Borinda to survive intact.

The awakening

There is still some life in it...

There is still some life in it…

In early spring, we’ve had a period of extremely warm weather which had awaken all the bamboos, including the badly damaged Borinda fungosa. I have completely removed the dried out culms and I soon noticed a couple of survival shoots, pushing out from the base of dead culms. Until now, there are no regular shoots that would prove that the bamboo is going to recover. I hope there are healthy rhizomes with undamaged rhizome buds below ground. Usually the first shoots appeared around mid May, hopefully they will push out this year as well.

The conclusion

Some small survival shoots started to emerge

Some small survival shoots started to emerge

Borinda fungosa I’ve been growing from seed for 6 years somehow managed to thrive in this marginal climate. It got damaged during the winter and didn’t like the heat in the summer, but it managed to grow and upsize into a very decent bamboo. This winter was not typical for us. At least not statistically. It’s sad that the same climate pattern started to repeat itself almost every year. Almost no winter precipitation, cool northern wind and sunny weather can dry out even more winter hardy bamboos. As if the winter was not bad enough, we were recently hit by a nasty late spring freeze. My Borinda doesn’t have the best growing conditions in my garden. It may perish in a year or two even if it survived this winter.

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6 thoughts on “Borinda fungosa winter damage 2016/2017

  1. Avatar Alec

    Wow, I never really looked this one up even though you’ve written about it before. But it’s noted as barely even hardy below freezing! What on Earth made you want to have a go at it?? Haha
    Really impressive 🙂

    1. tarzan tarzan

      I have tried growing it from seed and it was available. Didn’t really do any hardiness research before. I bought it as Fargesia fungosa, which made me think it’s as hardy as other fargesia bamboos, which are all more than hardy enough for our climate. In fact it was the first bamboo seedling I have successfully germinated – at that point I received 0% germination rate from Moso seeds I bought from the same eBay seller.

      1. Avatar Alec

        I see! Interesting! I can hardly believe how well it is doing in your climate. I am really interested in bamboo and its uses and applications in my climate, and our winter climates are similar. Your summers are definitely warmer, however.

        Thank you for sharing as always, it is great for me to have found an online resource like your blog. There’s nowhere for me to turn up here, as only fully hardy zone 6 plants are ever sold even if we have areas as mild as zone 9 in the country.

  2. tarzan tarzan

    Borinda doesn’t like hot summers. They prefer wet and rainy summers with mild winters. They like thick snow cover. Bamboo gets flattened by just a couple of centimeters of wet snow. That way it waits for the spring. We don’t have a lot of snow lately, so it’s not the luckiest bamboo. 🙂

    1. tarzan tarzan

      Well, it will have to wait a bit to get going again. This spring it pushed out numerous survival shoots – well, they are actually branches from below soil nodes. This week, I have found first late summer/early fall shoots that are common for Borinda bamboos. Like each year, I don’t expect them to survive the winter. I will be able to protect it this winter, because it’s rather small again. Last winter was devastating for all kinds of plants. Not just that it top killed Borinda, the major issue that winter was that the soil froze up to 1m deep. And it remained frozen for quite a while.

      I expect full recovery, but it won’t happen over night. I guess it should reach 5m+ height in 2 years max.


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