July 12, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
July 12, 2013
|Height: 4 to 5 m|
Hardiness: Can not handle freezing
Characteristics: Cold sensitive, vigorous, loves boggy soil or even standing water, doesn’t like soil to dry out
After unsuccessful purchase when I received Umbrella palm instead of Cyperus papyrus, I tried buying another pack of seeds from different seller. Seeds germinated with high germination rate in only a couple of days. Small fragile plants were transplanted into larger pots, because summer was already there and I wanted them to grow as much as possible.
In around two weeks, plant started to really take off! Each day, seedling grew larger and larger. By the time when first tillers appeared, it became evident that it’s really the large version of Papyrus and not the ‘umbrella plant’.
Unlike many other seedlings, it thrived in full sun from the beginning. At first I planed to protect it from scorching sun that can easily kill most of other plant’s seedlings, but since the plant originates from Egypt, I ditched the idea and keep it unprotected.
I found out that they don’t like too much fertilizing, especially when young. Even moderate amount of fertilizer resulted in plant yellowing and stunted growth. Transplanting it into peat moss solved the problem immediately.
Extremely fast growth continued during the hottest months of the summer and then they slowly stopped developing when it cooled off.
By the mid September, Papyrus started to look really exotic with nice looking ‘feather dusters’ emerging. Despite cold, overcast weather with regular rain intervals, seedling managed to use all the standing water inside the bucket within a day or two. With roots that were not well established, water level remained the same for days even when temperatures were high and there was a lot of sunshine – sadly, this year seedling missed most of the summer. With some luck, if Papyrus manages to overwinter successfully, it will start from the beginning and rise a couple of meters high.
In it’s second year, in late spring it began to grow faster again and started to show first signs of flowering. It really needs high temperatures to start growing and while it can survive the spring when it’s not yet warm enough, it won’t grow much. It’s slow growth might also be related to low soil temperature and poor condition of the plant after long winter.
After first season during which I’ve kept it in container, I decided I should try planting it outside without any barriers, so the only thing that was limiting it’s growth was lack of sun and the fact that it got shaded by other plants that grew higher.
The plan was to keep part of it outside, protected as much as possible during the winter and to take smaller part inside. This way, with some luck I would at least get one plant for the next growing season.
Cyperus papyrus has grown a lot and the largest stems grew up to almost 3 meters. Umbels were large and perfectly shaped. All the stems that emerged during the spring started flowering almost immediately when we hit summer-like temperatures. Flowering persisted during the summer and as quickly as it started, ended in early autumn.
Flowers are brown with abundance of yellow anthers. During the most prolific flowering, umbels were starting to turn downward, due to the weight of all the flowers on it.
Flowers soon stop producing pollen, start drying and turn brown. When the seeds are ripe, they fall out and wait for a good time to start growing. I haven’t find any seedlings, despite the fact that there were millions of seeds that got ejected into the surrounding area. If they need stratification, hopefully they will emerge in the spring.
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.