Phyllostachys Pubescens Moso

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.

Several months old Moso seedling

Several months old Moso seedling

Basic information:
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.

Sprouting of Moso seed

Sprouting of Moso seed

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.

New Phyllostachys pubescens seedling

New Phyllostachys pubescens seedling

Healthy young seedling

Healthy young bamboo seedling

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.

First signs of nutrient deficiency

First signs of nutrient deficiency

Yellow striping became apparent

Yellow striping became apparent

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.

Getting bushy!

Getting bushy!

Stunted growth

Stunted growth

Fly on deficient bamboo

Fly on deficient bamboo

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.

Moso started running!

Moso started running!

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.

1 year old seedling

1 year old seedling

One year old moso wilting leaves during hot suny day

One year old moso wilting leaves during hot suny day

Almost mature looking shoot

Almost mature looking shoot

Red shoot

Red shoot

Spring variegation

Spring variegation

Purple and variegated :)

Purple and variegated 🙂

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

Fuzzy node

Fuzzy node

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

Large culm got yellow after a couple of months. Usually juvenile culms remained green.

Large culm got yellow after a couple of months. Usually juvenile culms remained green.

Bamboo managed to leaf out completely and sized up considerably.

Bamboo managed to leaf out completely and sized up considerably.

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First 2014 shoots

First 2014 shoots

Warmer days and first rain after a couple of weeks of sunny weather triggered first shoots to start poking out of the soil. Some old whip shoots came alive, and many red colored new shoots started emerging from the potted part of the plant. Escaped portion of the bamboo remained seemingly dormant for some more time.

Moso shoots that finally started to look a bit more mature.

Moso shoots that finally started to look a bit more mature.

Moso in the end of October.

Moso in the end of October.

Autumn sun can hardly penetrate dense canopy.

Autumn sun can hardly penetrate dense canopy.

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9 thoughts on “Phyllostachys Pubescens Moso

  1. Alec

    Hey! If you could make a blog post about how you’re preparing your moso for the winter, I would be very happy! I’m keeping my moso indoors this second winter, but next spring I am planting some of them outside in the ground and some I’ll be keeping in pots for comparison, and put in the greenhouse for the winter (5-15C all winter).

    Last year’s low was -16,9, and the year before it was -12, so it fluctuates. Never gone below -21, but that still goes to show that cold spells do come by, and they’re devastating if they linger.

     
    Reply
    1. tarzan tarzan

      I will write about winter preparations. Moso is not the most problematic for me, as I have a much less hardy bamboo – Borinda fungosa, that really needs any kind of protection I can offer.

      Down to -10°C Moso usually shows little or no damage. It does get damaged, however, when there’s cold sunny weather with cold dry winds. If it remains frozen during the day, wind and sun will suck the water out of it in no-time. When it’s covered with snow, there’s only little or no damage at all.

      Even -20°C should not be fatal for the bamboo. It will most likely get top-killed or at least lose some of its culms, but it will bounce back in the spring. My Moso seedling survived -20°C half fried. By half fried I mean, the southern half without snow protection got completely defoliated, the northern, shaded side of the clump only showed minor leaf damage.

       
      Reply
  2. Alec

    But you did give it some extra protection (Agribon covers or mulch etc.) the first winter[s] int he ground, didn’t you? We will have a whole week where temperatures will not go above freezing on particularly cold winters, which makes me worry about ground frost. I guess mulching is there to help protect against that.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences! I really appreciate it!

     
    Reply
    1. tarzan tarzan

      No additional protection. I did give it a couple inches of mulch, grass clippings and there were some dry bamboo leaves, but not much. The soil can freeze and bamboos will survive, the thing is, if they get too wet during that time, or shortly after, their roots and rhizomes can get damaged enough for the small plant to perish.
      Mulch is a good way to protect it. If you cover it with the cover you mentioned, they will be even more protected. If they get covered with snow, before the severe cold arrives, the protection will be even better. Under thick layer of snow, there’s usually only minor damage, or no damage at all.

       
      Reply
      1. Alec

        I will remember this 🙂 Thank you. I feel a lot more confident about overwintering my Moso now.

         
        Reply
    1. tarzan tarzan

      Do you need bamboo seeds or are you trying to sell them and place a link? in the first case, there are lots of seeds on e-Bay and Aliexpress you can purchase. I have had great success with those. If you want to place a link, then no, sorry.

       
      Reply
  3. josep

    Hello
    I want to plant r this bamboo
    Is it very invasive?
    Phyllostachys pubescens Moso Bambú
    thanks josep barcelona catalunya

     
    Reply
    1. tarzan tarzan

      Hi,

      it is just as invasive as other Phyllostachys bamboos. When mature, canes are usually not as densely clumped like culms of other Phyllostachys bamboos. It surely needs some “love” each year to control its underground growth. I do it twice a year, and I have it under control. If (when) it runs away, I can always dig a bit deeper and cut off the escaping rhizome.
      In Spain or Catalonia, it would most likely grow faster and the season lasts longer as well. This means it would also spread a bit more vigorously. I would definitely recommend rhizome barrier.

       
      Reply

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