Chimonocalamus pallens

 

One month old seedling

One month old seedling

I received a package of Chimonocalamus pallens seeds as a gift from a friend with a flowering bamboo. If you are reading this, thank you again!

This bamboo doesn’t like cold winters, which are common around here. That means it’s most likely condemned to become an indoor plant that will get outside in late spring and back inside when it gets cooler in autumn. Like most bamboos, Chimonocalamus pallens likes moist but not wet soil. It tolerates strong sun and should be quite heat tolerant, which could prove useful during the summer months.

 

Basic information:

Height: 8 m
Culm diameter: 3.8 cm
Hardiness: -9 °C
Characteristics: node thorns, upright growth, clumping bamboo, sun tolerant
Newly emerged bamboo

Newly emerged bamboo

Seeds started germinating on August 26th (2012). Out of 5 seeds from first batch, 3 managed to poke out of the soil after germination. Sadly, two of the seedlings died shortly after, due to slug damage. I knew I should sterilize the soil before I planted them … At first, pallens seedlings are slow to get going, but with time, growth rate accelerates and new shoots become more and more vigorous.

Thorns started to form around the Chimonocalamus pallens node

Thorns started to form around the node

Compared to Phyllostachys pubescens Moso seedlings or Borinda fungosa, which I also tried growing from seeds, Chimonocalamus pallens needed much more attention. It might be soil related, but it seems that if Moso seedlings are picky when it comes to nutrients and nutrient availability, pallens is even worse. After first couple of leaves, they begin to look pale and started loosing old leaves. Most of the seedlings had shown old culm death after they managed to shoot and despite that, they started growing faster. When shooting started, seedlings had shown leaf deformations, similar to those on Borinda fungosa seedlings. Culm tips on old stems often died off to provide more nutrients to newly growing shoots. Adding fertilizer seems to improve this deficiency. I tried adding Epsom salts, iron oxide (water with rust particles in it) and common water soluble liquid fertilizer with high nitrogen content. Foilage got greener and plants looked healthier. Growth, however, didn’t accelerate.

Seedlings were placed outside after it got warmer, but soon, they got hit by strong wind, hail, torrential rain, strong sun and unbelievably cold weather. Growth stunted completely, but they should start growing again when things get back to normal.

Pallens seedlings in July 2013

Pallens seedlings in July 2013

Seedling in July 2013

Seedling in July 2013

With warmer summer weather, seedlings started to take off, but were then again stunted by heat and strong sun exposure. Seedlings were placed into protected place in full sun, with added protective mesh that blocked direct sun. Most of them had shown little if any stress, but overall, there was not much growth during the summer. Things changed again when temperatures dropped again and rain started to fall on a regular daily basis. New shoots appeared on most of the seedlings in early September. When compared to other bamboo seedlings I’ve grown, these had shown much less vigor during their first year. Test seedling got nearly killed during the summer, but it started showing signs of life after I placed it out of the pot into shaded spot. I will most likely leave it there for the winter to see how cold hardy it actually is.

Using protection from strong summer sun, seedlings got their dark green color and started shooting vigorously.

Using protection from strong summer sun, seedlings got their dark green color and started shooting vigorously.

Hardly survived the winter

Hardly survived the winter

During the winter, bamboos were kept in their original undersized pots and they were not enjoying their warm and dry environment. Due to lack of light, autumn shoots became tall and fragile, most of them suffered at some point and their tops dried out or break – then dry out. Freezing temperature top killed test seedling that was kept outside in the ground, but when I pulled it out, I did notice some fresh roots and even emerging shoots. I’ll see if it can recover.
It all seems that Chimonocalamus pallens seedlings can withstand dry and hot conditions better than most similar clumpers (Borinda, Fargesia or Yushania), but will need a lot of light to continue with healthy growth. The second reason of their current condition was lack of soil in their pots. They shared pots that were shallow, with minimal space for their root system to establish. I’ll try to get them going again, when they recover I’ll plant them seperately into larger containers, now they are all together planted into aged compost.

Seems to like shooting in the fall

Seems to like shooting in the fall

Thorns are starting to emerge around the nodes

Thorns are starting to emerge around the nodes

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Cyperus alternifolius

Few months old Cyperus alternifolius seedling

Few months old Cyperus alternifolius seedling

Cyperus alternifolius seeds sown in the middle of March 2013 started sprouting after a couple of weeks and new plants continued to emerge for at least a month. Germination rate seemed to be terrible at first, but later it turned out, that most of 2 years old tiny seeds remained viable and sprouted. First week or two, seedlings remained extremely small and fragile, but with time, leaves grew larger and multiplied. Because I used old seeds and expected bad germination rate, all the seedlings ended up in one small plastic cup. With overcrowding that started to occur with time, I had to transplant seedlings soon after they got three or four leaves. I managed to keep their small roots by soaking the soil completely and pushing individual seedlings out using a toothpick. That way each seedling got a bit of soil with it around the roots which gave great results – none of them died off during transplant.

 
 
 

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Seedlings on April 7th.

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With days passing, more and more seedlings emerged. The strongest ones were picked out with a toothpick and transplanted.

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Seedling in it’s own plastic cup. This time, I didn’t make drainage holes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small seedlings were growing fast for their size and in only a couple of days, they were strong enough to go into individual pots. Placed under cheap Chinese cool white LED light, it was able to get at least some light. Rainy weather didn’t allow sunbathing behind the window.

Seedlings that got replanted, started to take off much faster than those that remained in original pot. Warmer weather finally allowed that they were placed outside. Soon, roots became apparent on transparent plastic cup again and I had to start preparing to move them into larger pots again. Plants started to grow shoots from gaps between lower leaves and original stem. Soon they became quite bushy and for their second time, ready to be transplanted. Cold rainy weather slowed down their growth considerably.

 

Seedlings on May 4th.

Seedlings on May 4th.

Seedlings on May 8th. The seedlings had to be placed into larger pots again.

Seedlings on May 8th. The seedlings had to be placed into larger pots again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the second half of May, it started elongating stems. Even with roots that started to get a bit overcrowded, strongest seedling continued to grow vigorously. I took this one inside during cold nights that drop well below 10°C.

May 21st.

May 21st.

Seedling is almost root-bound by now and will have to be transplanted into larger pot befor start of June.

Seedling is almost root-bound by now and will have to be transplanted into larger pot befor start of June.

seedling on May 21st

seedling on May 21st

‘Dusters’ started to grow scale like formations. With each additional day, plants are growing stronger. They are growing more and more stems that are getting taller and taller. I have a feeling, that every emerging shoot starts doing the duster thingie in short time. Sadly there’s still not enough warmth and sun exposure for the seedlings to really take off.  We’ll get there sooner or later. 😉

Cyperus alternifolius in the beginning of June.

Cyperus alternifolius in the beginning of June.

With warmer weather Cyperus alternifolius started to grow faster and needed to be transplanted from little plastic cup. I found small 5l bucket with a small hole on the bottom. I placed it inside another container filled with rain water and rusty nails. Water inside the plastic tub is keeping soil temperature more stable and prevent it to dry out. Nails made the water look orange with Iron oxide that will also help Cyperus alternifolius to remain healthy green.

Cyperus alternifolius shoots are getting thicker.

Cyperus alternifolius shoots are getting thicker.

Soon after transplant, new shoots started to appear. When plant received even more heat, growth further accelerated and it didn’t take long until first flowers started to emerge. At that point it was certain, it was not Cyperus Papyrus seeds I received at all! Seeds were supposed to be from larger sibling Cyperus Papyrus, but I ended up with Cyperus alternifolius instead. Flowers appeared on plant that was merely 20 cm tall, which came as a surprise, because Papyrus usually doesn’t flower in it’s first year.
I started researching a bit to find out what version of Cyperus I actually received. Flowers and overall plant shape was screaming Cyperus alternifolius (also known as: Cyperus involucratus, Umbrella Plant, Umbrella Papyrus or Umbrella Palm). It looks like I’ll have to go shopping again to get real giant Cyperus Papyrus seeds.

It seems that it can double its size in a week.

It seems that it can double its size in a week.

First flowers showed up unexpectedly

First flowers showed up unexpectedly

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Some flower buds didn’t turn into flowers, but instead, started forming small plants. Usually that happens if it gets sunk under water, but this one decided to multiply above water level. If I ever decide to divide it, there should be no problems.

Small plants instead of flowers!

Small plants instead of flowers!

One of many flowers.

One of many flowers.

Clump from one tiny seed in only a couple of months.

Clump from one tiny seed in only a couple of months.

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In only a couple of months seedlings became large and well established. Most of them started to flower and some of them managed to grow small plants on top of their “heads”. Some of these small plants also started to flower, while still attached to the mother plant.

This plant is quite rewarding. It’s easy and fast to grow, looks great when it starts to flower and it’s really easy to divide it. Sadly it can’t handle Zone 7 winters, which means I’ll have to make sure it survives the winter inside.

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