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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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Borinda fungosa – 2015 upsize

Borinda fungosa – 2015 upsize

Young shoot managed to poke through the hard soil
Young shoot managed to poke through the hard soil

Despite relatively cold winter, B. fungosa came out only slightly damaged and fully recovered in early spring. Even bamboos with more damage started shooting before fungosa, so I actually started to be a bit worried about it’s spring shooting. If it would decide to skip it and only start shooting in the fall, all the new growth would likely be lost during the following winter. It had grown a lot of new branches and leafed out really soon after winter, so I expected it to shoot soon as well. That did not happen, it took it’s time.

 

In early summer, it finally started shooting.
In early summer, it finally started shooting.

When in the mid June first shoots started to appear, temperatures were already summer-like, and it usually refused to like that kind of weather, especially in it’s new location, that is much more exposed to full sun than it’s previous growing place. Shoots appeared small at first, but soon started to get thicker and thicker, showing some decent upsize from last year. I watered it regularly to prevent it from drying out during heat waves, we’ve seen this year, and surprisingly, bamboo actually liked the amount of sun. Before, when it was smaller and younger, it became chlorotic and pale after even short exposure to heat and sun.

Shoots appeared small, but soon became thicker
Shoots appeared small, but soon became thicker

Shoots grew through the dense clump. Shoots have soft growing tip, which is completely different than with most other bamboos. It can easily look like the tip is broken, but it’s just the soft culm sheath that can easily move through the obstacles and make space for the shoot to finally tower itself above old growth. When it began shooting, I expected it to stop after first batch of shoots, so they can mature and leaf out like bamboos usually do. Not Borinda fungosa – it shoots constantly through the early and mid summer, later with smaller (but not small) shoots. First wave of shoots is numerous, then they start appearing in lower numbers with more time between emerging new shoots.

Thick culms still covered with distinctive hairy Borinda sheaths.
Thick culms still covered with distinctive hairy Borinda sheaths.

When compared to phyllostachys, Borinda needs quite a bit more time for the shoots to mature. Hopefully, all the new culms will harden enough to withstand the next winter. Bamboo is getting more hardy to both, winter cold and summer heat. It used to suffer during both, summer and winter and only really thrived during spring and fall.

Towering new shoots
Towering new shoots
Top of the shoot
Shoot top

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Funky hairstyle of Borinda fungosa shoot
Funky hairstyle of Borinda fungosa shoot
B. fungosa clump is not as dense as with some other clumping bamboos.
B. fungosa clump is not as dense as with some other clumping bamboos.
Lower node started growing ring of roots above the soil level.
Lower node started growing ring of roots above the soil level.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Spring 2014

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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