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.
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.