Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Basic information:
Height: 4 to 8 m
Culm diameter: 3 cm
Hardiness: -18 °C
Characteristics: cold hardy, vigorous, running bamboo,
they frequently have compressed internodes at the base

Phyllostachys aurea is also called golden bamboo due to it’s golden yellow culm or fishpole bamboo, because of its use as a,… you guessed right, fishing pole. It’s medium tall running bamboo that grows in temperate climate. It can be slightly less hardy than the hardiest Phyllostachys bamboos like Phyllostachys nuda, Phyllostachys aureosulcata (whole family of bamboos :)) or Phyllostachys bissetii, but it can bounce back even when it gets completely scorched during the winter. It can be extremely aggressive in warmer climates and can spread vigorously. Like with all running bamboos, you have to be careful to confine it (and)or regularly check and remove possible escaping runners. It has strong culms that can be used in various DIY projects.

Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea

Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea

Specific characteristic of Phyllostachys aurea are distorted internodes at the base of the culm which start appearing after bamboo reaches maturity with decent cane diameter.

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Spring 2014

With warm weather, dormancy ended and new growth cycle started.

arundo-donax-variegataI stored weak Arundo donax Variegata divisions from last year in heated place without enough light. They survived, but not without casualties. Plants ended up even weaker and hopefully they will recover when I finally plant them outside. I learned my lesson to never store Arundo donax inside during the winter again. Most of the unvariegated clones I got by layering ended badly. Only two plants remain alive above ground, many died below the soil level as well. Heat, low light level and wet soil with minimal oxygen capacity did their worst. I left one clone outside and it froze and thawed continuously until spring, now it’s also waking up. It may end up the best.
One variegated shoot already decided it’s about time to break free.

Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.

Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.


Borinda fungosa seedling that got fried when temperatures dropped to around -10°C is regenerating. First branch buds are pale green, some of them almost white. Pale leaves that are starting to form have that distinctive pinkish tan like many other variegated bamboos. It doesn’t seem to be variegated though, no true leaves are fully formed yet.
Branches on last year's autumn shoot.

Branches on last year’s autumn shoot.

With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.

With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.

 
 

Culm color as seen using camera's flash light.

Culm color as seen using camera’s flash light.

With warm sunny weather, culms that were mature enough – all except the last autumn shoots, became dark brown. The more sun the culm receives, darker it becomes. It seems that after a while with some more sun exposure, dark brown color becomes almost red. Autumn shoots remained green despite growing in identical conditions. Without leaves there’s a lot of light and it will be interesting to see if culm color can get even more intense.

 

After prolonged sun exposure, even the newest shoots began to turn color from green to shiny dark brown. Culms get their specific color and they have a glossy look, just as they were polished. Young culms with wax coating take longer to change color. Culms with old, partly degraded remains of culm sheaths, can be totally brown, but beneath the straw colored sheath remnants, culms are green. During the spring, there are almost no leaves on fungosa, which means there’s a lot of light.

Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo

Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo

Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa

Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa

Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima's elongated buds.

Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima’s elongated buds.

Other bamboos also started to grow and will most likely start shooting as well. Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ is already growing new branches and will soon replace leaves that got mildly fried by winter cold.

One of the last plants that started growing was cold hardy Hibiscus Hibiscus moscheutos. It was started from seed year ago and I can only speculate if it’s label was actually correct. Color of it’s flowers also remains a mystery.

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Cold

Cold weather ends the growing season sooner or later, this year it was rather soon. With no snow insulation, cold can induce more damage that with thick layer of snow insulation. This year, despite all the cold, we are yet to see the first snow.

Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.

Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.

Borinda fungosa seedling was holding on very well down to -5°C. Soon night temperature dropped down to -7°C and many of the leaves got damaged. Leaves that remained undamaged, surprisingly remained unfolded even during sunny and windy weather. It did loose all the shoots from this autumn, as it did last winter, but this time, some of them remained tall, only loosing their fragile top. Perhaps in the spring, they will begin the branching process. Cold weather persisted for around two weeks, daily highs were slightly above or below freezing, it was sunny and windy most of the time. Morning low temperatures were between -5°C and -8°C. This is it’s second winter outside, I’ll see how it resists cold. Last year when it was covered in thick layer of snow most of the winter, it managed to keep most of the leaves intact.fungosa winter damage
fungosa damaged by cold Well, the problem with all that snow insulation was weight. Heavy wet snow broke all the taller culms and only a couple of old tiny ones remained. Dead shoots that grew in late fall were not all dead, one of them managed to grow branches around the lowest node, that was buried under thick layer of mulch.
After almost a month of very cold weather, with fog persisting through most of the day, with day temperature slightly below freezing, leafs managed to unfold, showing the damage. It looks like most, if not all, leaves were completely killed or badly damaged. Culms and branches are showing their dark brown color and they seem to be alive even after prolonged period of cold weather. Hopefully in 4 months we’ll get some warm weather for it to recover.

 

Shiroshima with it's beautiful  varieagated leaves remains almost intact.

Shiroshima with it’s beautiful varieagated leaves remains almost intact.

Hibanobambusa tranquilans ‘Shiroshima’ is looking hardy enough to survive this kind of cold dry weather without hassle. There’s no evident damage, not even on several late fall whip shoots. Whips stopped growing with arrival of cold weather, lower nodes actually hardened enough to drop off culm sheathes, while their tops remained fresh and stopped growing completely. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they resume in the spring. With temperatures close to freezing, white variegation on the leaves turned into bright yellow color, making bamboo look even better.

 
 

Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.

Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.


Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling that escaped it’s pot is showing moderate leaf damage. It’s evident, that there’s almost no damage on the escaped part of bamboo that ran out of the pot two seasons ago. Leaves that were pale during the summer and showed some kind of stress, wilted after first heavy frost. Dark green leaves mostly remained undamaged, but they do tend to wilt when exposed
Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.

Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.

to sun. Wilting is normal, because soil already got frozen on top and bamboo have to save water inside it’s leaves.
The part that escaped managed to put out numerous runners and a couple of shoots that barely poked out through the mulch. They are most likely whip shoots that missed their growing season. So far they haven’t got soft and are most likely alive, waiting to resume in the spring. Last year, pot ended up as home of mice family that stayed there throughout the winter. They didn’t do much damage, but there were holes all around the pot and I’m sure there was some root damage. Well, better mice than voles! They can devastate whole bamboo clumps.
 
 
Umbrella palm seedlings, planted around the garden and inside the pond didn’t take the cold well. First hard frost killed everything above the soil/water level, and most likely, rhizomes as well. We’ll see if it restarts in the spring, if not, I still have one large seedling kept safely inside.
At first dark green damaged leaves turned into straw color. They’ve kept their appearance as they would still be alive. Dry clumps of umbrella papyrus are looking quite good. I’m going to keep them for a while, if rain or snow doesn’t make them look ugly that is.
Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It's not ugly just yet, though.

Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It’s not ugly just yet, though.

It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I'm keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.

It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I’m keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.

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Arundo donax

On my trip to Tunisia, I took stem of relatively thin but mature Arundo donax plant. I didn’t have high expectations for it to survive, but I kept it. When I got back, I buried it into damp peat moss / pine bark mix and soon first shoots emerged.

shoots appear from nodes of layered culm.

shoots appear from nodes of layered culm.

After a couple of weeks, small shoot emerged

After a couple of weeks, small shoot emerged

Almost every node started growing shoot in only a couple of weeks. At first they grew slowly and got damaged by full sun exposure. At first there were no roots around the newly grown shoots, which means that small plants received all their water and nutrients from old stem. At one point leaves started to look healthier and totally immune to strong sun exposure as long as they received enough water. It didn’t take long before they started multiplying. Each of the initial shoots started growing at least one if not two additional shoots around it. Second shoots soon got ticker and taller than their predecessors and started growing even larger shoots. Almost every day at least one shoot appeared and newer stems grew thicker and taller.

Arundo donax shoots from culm layering

Arundo donax shoots from culm layering

Arundo donax shoots

Arundo donax shoots

Three months old Arundo.

Three months old Arundo.

In their third month, weather cooled off and summer temperatures were gone. Due to large amounts of rain, they thrived. Initial shoots became droopy and start falling in all directions, newer, thicker stems remained upright, until their leaves became too heavy for thin stem to support. Even with regular rain, peat moss based soil never remained saturated with water.

Despite low temperatures, some of transplanted plants started shooting.

Despite low temperatures, some of transplanted plants started shooting.

In short time, container became too crowded and completely root bound. There was almost no free soil remaining without plenty of white roots from all of the plants that came out of original layerd culm, so I had to tear off each of the plants and separate them from the large root mass. They all stopped growing after the transplantation, so they could recover their root system. Shortly after they got to their individual pots, weather cooled off and everything went to standby mode. Despite relative cold, some of the plants started shooting around a month after getting up-potted. New shoots were thicker than previous ones by far, which means they liked their new environment.

First year planted outside.

First year planted outside.

Arundo can use as much sun as it can get, but the first year outside was extremely wet. Despite all the rain and lack of sun and warmth, it started shooting and by the end of growing season, it had grown over most of other plants around it. In the early winter when I started cleaning around it, I noticed new buds emerging from around the canes. Rhizomes below the soil were covered, but I did see a shoot tip a couple of inches away, which means it’s well rooted and it actually started spreading. With more sun, it’s growth would be much more vigorous, because it could overgrow other plants earlier in the summer.
I used dry grass and cattail (Typha) to protect the soil and roots around the clump from winter cold.

Arundo donax buds

Arundo donax buds

Voles love to eat Arundo donax's rhizomes.

Voles love to eat Arundo donax’s rhizomes.

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