Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’
June 8, 2013
In April 2011, I found cheap Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’ in one of the shopping centers. I instantly decided to add one clumping bamboo to my collection of seedlings I started growing the same year.
|Height: 2.5 to 3 m|
Culm diameter: 1.5 cm
Hardiness: -16 to -25 °C
Characteristics: very cold hardy, clumping bamboo
5l pot contained one of the smallest plants they’ve had. Most of them had many tall broken shoots, so I grabbed the smallest bamboo with shoots that were still relatively young, compared to all the rest they’ve had. I knew it will soon make up the difference, with more undamaged shoots, the chances were even better.
I planted it into hard clay soil, with a lot of peat moss added to attract earthworms. Bamboo is placed in sheltered location with morning to mid-afternoon sun. It gets additional protection from tall forsythia that grows right next to it. Since fargesias are sensitive to hot weather, shaded soil where they grow is necessary, before they create thick canopy for themselves.
Young shoots appear in early March while other bamboos usually still rest peacefully, waiting for warm spring to finally arrive. Shoots are covered with brown hair. Culm sheaths are purple to brown and fall off as soon as the first branches start to emerge. Fully leafed culms start to droop when initially small number of branches and leaves start increasing. Rain and especially snow can make the plant touch the ground completely. Culms can easily bend without breaking, so there’s only little danger for them to snap during winter. This bamboo is cold hardy to almost -30°C, which means, it can survive even without thick layer of snow insulation. During extremely cold and windy winter of 2011/2012, bamboo remained almost completely undamaged.
June 3, 2013
Borinda is genus of a clumping bamboo that can grow considerably higher and thicker than Fargesia, but lucks it’s cold hardiness. Most of Borinda bamboos are cold hardy to around -10C. Borinda fungosa can be very vigorous grower, even when it’s just a small seedling. If it gets proper position to thrive, it tends to upsize fast. Bamboo has pachymorph rhizomes and forms dense clumps of yellowish culms. When Borinda fungosa gets enough sun exposure, culms can get nice looking dark brown color. Despite the color change, it can’t handle too much or too strong sun exposure. Borinda fungosa has strong tendency to ‘weep’, because soon after it branches out, weight of large amount of leaves start to bend the culm downwards.
|Height: 3 to 4 m|
Culm diameter: 2 cm
Hardiness: -8 to -10 °C
Characteristics: cold sensitive, vigorous, clumping bamboo, hairy shoots, sheathes and leaves, heat sensitive – not performing well in sunny locations
Seeds germinated in only a couple of days. Out of ten seedlings, two managed to sprout and both survived first couple of years. One of them was pampered from the very beginning and it showed how prolific and vigorous growth it is capable of, the other got almost killed on many occasions, but later, when placed outdoors, turned out as much better performer.
Borinda fungosa seedlings are growing fast and tend to upsize rapidly. Leaves are covered with hair which is very evident while the seedlings are still young – with larger plant, you can hardly notice that leaf characteristic. Shooting cycles were around three weeks apart at the beginning. With every shooting cycle, some kind of deficiency related leaf damage appeared. That problem went away when the plant got better established and could provide more nutrients to the upcoming shoots. Shooting almost completely stopped during the summer, and later happened again in early fall. Because it’s not cold hardy as some other bamboos, late shoots usually die off completely during the winter even if they are exposed only to a minor freezing.
In the spring, it got attacked by European Corn Borer. Nearly all the early spring shoots were attacked and there was almost no upsize. Each of the shoots had caterpillar inside, which managed to eat most of the shoots all the way down to the soil level.
Shoots are covered with dark hair and only a short portion of culm appears from it’s large culm sheath. It soon gets pushed away by numerous branches, growing from each of the nodes, turn to straw color and eventually falls of. Shoots appear hollow at first, because of it’s extra large culm sheathes. After a while, firs blades appear and growing shoots starts looking more similar to other bamboos.
Borinda fungosa seedling appears to be one of bamboos, that loves to start shooting in the fall, when other bamboos usually already start with winter preparations. Around here, that usually means that new shoots are all killed by first couple of frosts. It’s also one of bamboos that gets a lot of yellow leaves in the fall which makes it stand out even more.
During cold winter 2014/2015 when temperatures plunged down to -19°C, I managed to keep it well protected under thick pile of snow that fell just before the worst cold arrived. Culms were already thick, so it wasn’t the easiest job to bend the whole plant closer to the ground, but I managed to tarp it down and cover it with snow. It worked remarkably well and it not only survived the winter, it actually kept most of its foliage.
Phyllostachys Pubescens Moso
June 2, 2013
Phyllostachys pubescens is the largest running bamboo that grows well in temperate climate. Because of sporadic flowering that is happening all the time, seed availability isn’t as problematic as with other bamboos.
|Height: 25 m|
Culm diameter: 18 cm
Hardiness: -18 °C
Characteristics: fuzzy culms, Large leaves as seedling, small leaves when mature, upright growth, strong culms, running bamboo, sun tolerant
First package of seeds gave poor results with 0% germination rate. Not even one of the seeds germinated, because they were most likely old and had lost their viability. Bamboo is known to loose viability with age. One way to keep the seeds viable is by keeping them in the refrigerator. When it got apparent that all seeds were dead and I couldn’t get even one single seedling out of whole batch, I decided to order another package from different supplier, that claimed to have fresh seeds. This time, germination rate was quite good and I had more seedlings that I could took care of.
Phyllostachys pubescens seeds were placed into warm water for 24 hours after I received them. Some of the seeds sank to the bottom, and some floated even after soaking in water. Those that were floating were either dead or empty – grains must have fell out already.
I used wet paper towel to keep the seeds moist. Seeds were placed into zip lock bag to prevent the paper towel to dry out. By checking seeds on a daily basis, I could see when they began to germinate. If mold appears on paper towel or on seeds, they should be rinsed with water and placed into fresh towel. Paper towel have to be moist but not wet. It’s best to squeeze out almost all the water, before finally placing it into zip lock bag.
At first, seedlings were growing fast and seemed very healthy. Soil needs to be well drained, or else seedlings fail at the very beginning. Tiny pubescens are delicate when it comes to watering. It’s usually better option to wait a couple of days longer before watering than overwatering. It’s also good to keep the seedlings in smaller pots and re-pot them as they grow bigger. Larger pots are harder to control.
Soon after bamboos started shooting for the first time, problems started to appear. Without any warning leaves started to appear chlorotic. Yellow stripes started to appear between leaf veins. Not even one seedling was safe from getting nutrition deficient. Adding liquid fertilizer did not seem to help much after the deficiency was spotted, but if added before it happened, everything seemed OK.
Before taking bamboos outside in the spring, they were growing slower, but appeared to be healthier. Outside, rain, strong wind and sun exposure made them suffer. Despite everything, they started to grow faster with each additional leaf. Seedlings soon grew into nice little clusters of culms. Every shooting cycle there were more and more new shoots that were larger in diameter and height.
Most of the seedlings died during the hot summer, because I never protected pots from overheating. Surviving seedlings became chlorotic, their growth was stunted, new shoots started to abort soon after emerging, growing tips were not unfolding, … All symptoms of nutrient deficiency, but it could not be prevented. Adding fertilizers did not help and I tried foliar feeding, slow release fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, manure and mulch. Only one seedling started shooting in the fall, others remained poor performers even after they got planted outside into the ground.
During the first year, I learned that pots have to get buried into the soil to prevent pot soil overheating. I also learned that I used way too much peat moss that acted as a sponge, locking all the water inside the pot and drowning the roots.
All seedlings were placed into the ground the following year, the best looking one remained in it’s pot, others were placed directly into the ground. It didn’t help them much, they are still performing poorly in their third year. After taking care of the pots, there were no more deficiency issues. During the second year, the best looking seedling (that was still inside it’s pot) started growing rhizomes and escaped the pot on several places. Small but healthy looking clump was not growing much during the summer, but there was a lot of underground activity. In the autumn, I took off one of the escaping rhizome that poked out as whip shoot and successfully tried making a division.
After winter, seedling remained at the same spot, with some minor winter damage, but most of the rhizomes and culms remained alive. There was some leaf and growing tips damage. Thanks to a lot of snow, soil was well protected from cold temperatures.
Shooting started in the end of April 2013. The escaping rhizome put out 4 shoots, yet 2 of them aborted soon after they emerged. Shoots on that escaping rhizome were maturer than those inside the pot. Some of the shoots appeared red with yellow leaves. Abundance of shoots made it and only a couple of them aborted. When shoots started branching out, all new shoots started showing variegation. The red shoots were more variegated than others that appeared green from the start. Variegation completely dissappeared after a couple of weeks and will most likely return next spring.
In late August, fat rhizomes started to crawl around the escaped culms which means there will be quite an upsize when buds on those rhizomes mature. Inside the pot, there are numerous whip shoots that might harden enough before the first frost, but will most likely fail to do so in time.
New rhizomes are thick and they tend to spread their roots quite fast. I’ll try to make sure they are well protected during the winter, like they were last year.
May 31, 2013
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.
|Height: 8 m|
Culm diameter: 3.8 cm
Hardiness: -9 °C
Characteristics: node thorns, upright growth, clumping bamboo, sun tolerant
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.
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.
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.
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.