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Borinda fungosa winter damage 2016/2017

Borinda fungosa winter damage 2016/2017

This winter was quite brutal. Temperatures did not plunge lower than normal, but it got cold enough for the soil to completely freeze down to 0.5m and even deeper. With no snow cover to protect the delicate Borinda leaves, it stood little chance to survive the winter.

The cause

Top killed Borinda fungosa
Top killed Borinda fungosa

During early winter, there was no visible damage on any of my bamboos, even Borinda fungosa (gaolinensis?) fared much better than I expected. But then came a period when we received no snow, only freezing temperatures that remained below freezing even during the day. Combined with cold north eastern winds, soil cooled off considerably and it froze much deeper than usual. It remained frozen for quite some time, even when temperatures rose above freezing.

The damage

When temperatures got back to normal and after some “warm” rain, leaves lost their green color and it became evident that bamboo ended up completely top killed. Culms were all noticeably bleached, green culms had the darker green, somewhat watery appearance. At that point, I was sorry I didn’t tarp the bamboo and try my best to protect it. It all seems now, that no protection could have save it this winter – the weather was just too much for a marginal bamboo like Borinda to survive intact.

The awakening

There is still some life in it...
There is still some life in it…

In early spring, we’ve had a period of extremely warm weather which had awaken all the bamboos, including the badly damaged Borinda fungosa. I have completely removed the dried out culms and I soon noticed a couple of survival shoots, pushing out from the base of dead culms. Until now, there are no regular shoots that would prove that the bamboo is going to recover. I hope there are healthy rhizomes with undamaged rhizome buds below ground. Usually the first shoots appeared around mid May, hopefully they will push out this year as well.

The conclusion

Some small survival shoots started to emerge
Some small survival shoots started to emerge

Borinda fungosa I’ve been growing from seed for 6 years somehow managed to thrive in this marginal climate. It got damaged during the winter and didn’t like the heat in the summer, but it managed to grow and upsize into a very decent bamboo. This winter was not typical for us. At least not statistically. It’s sad that the same climate pattern started to repeat itself almost every year. Almost no winter precipitation, cool northern wind and sunny weather can dry out even more winter hardy bamboos. As if the winter was not bad enough, we were recently hit by a nasty late spring freeze. My Borinda doesn’t have the best growing conditions in my garden. It may perish in a year or two even if it survived this winter.

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Borinda fungosa update 2016

Borinda fungosa update 2016

Borinda fungosa in early fall 2016
Borinda fungosa in early fall 2016
Bottom nodes with anchor roots
Bottom nodes with anchor roots

This growing season, Borinda fungosa seedling was 5 years old. Like during it’s previous seasons, it started shooting late in the spring and managed only to push out a couple of shoots that were about the size of last year’s growth.
We’ve had relatively mild winter last year. Since there was not enough snow, to protect the bamboo, like year before, there was some damage. Most of the late summer shoots have been defoliated completely, fresh branches died off, but the culms remained alive. Most of the unbranched nodes restarted by mid spring. This year, one of late autumn shoots actually remained alive and started growing when soil temperature got high enough.

A bunch of new shoots in early autumn
A bunch of new shoots in early autumn

The shooting season began early, because one 3cm tall shoot from previous autumn managed to survive the winter. As usual, spring shots are roughly the same size as large shoots from previous year. With a bit more damage than usual, seedling lost at least 6 fully grown culms during the winter. Winter damage is probably the main cause of smaller upsize this year and very bad spring shooting cycle. The late summer / autumn shooting, however, ended up “heavier” than ever. Shoots are not much larger, but they really came out in great numbers this year.

Culms upsized a notch during their 5th season
Culms upsized a notch during their 5th season

The summer was quite dry, with abundance of sun and mild summer temperatures that never reached more than 33°C. Night temperatures also remained below 20°C most of the time. Leaves remained healthy and green throughout the whole summer. I was watering it occasionally, especially when the weather remained dry for longer periods of time in late summer. Borinda fungosa is supposed to look bad in warm and dry weather, but it seems that with maturity, the plant became resilient enough to withstand strong, full sun exposure. Seedling behaved differently from any of my bamboos from the early beginning. The shooting is usually completed in about 2 months. Not the case with my Borinda. Shoots are maturing throughout the whole season, and only the earliest shoots manage to harden off completely before the winter cold destroys all the branches that are still soft. During summer, it looks healthy, but it’s growth slows down considerably. With cooler weather in late summer it starts growing faster and doesn’t stop until hard frosts kick in.

Lush Borinda foliage
Lush Borinda foliage

So far the vigor and overall appearance of Borinda fungosa seedling is surprisingly good. Due to the fact, that it grows in marginal climate with cold winters and (too?) warm summers, it grows extremely well. It survived cold, drought, heat, got infested with insects, rodents,… It grows faster than all of my Phyllostachys seedlings, including my vigorous Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’.

 
 

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Cold

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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Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’

Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’

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.

5l Fargesia murielae
5l Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’
Basic information:
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.
 
 

Planted fargesia murielae started it's second shooting in early summer.
Planted Rufa started its second shooting in early summer.
Numerous shoots appearing  around the clump each spring.
Numerous shoots appearing around the clump each spring.

Young shoot starting to take off!
Young shoot starting to take off!

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.

 

It doesnt take much to flatten Fargesia.
It doesn’t take much to flatten F. murielae.
Fargesia murielae in the spring of 2013
Fargesia murielae in the spring of 2013
A bunch of shoots in the morning sun
A bunch of shoots in the morning sun

Fargesia dracocephala 'Rufa' in June 2013. New shoots just starting to leaf out.
Fargesia dracocephala ‘Rufa’ in June 2013. New shoots just starting to leaf out.
Hairy F. Rufa shoots starting to emerge.
Hairy F. Rufa shoots starting to emerge.
Countless shoots emerged all around the clump. Even tamed Fargesia can decide to spread around.
Countless shoots emerged all around the clump. Even tamed Fargesia can decide to spread around.
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